Paulina Rowińska

How does a delivery driver distribute hundreds of packages in a single working day? Why does remote Alaska have such a large airport? Where should we look for elusive serial killers? The answers lie in the crucial connection between maps and maths.

In Mapmatics, Dr Paulina Rowinska embarks on a fascinating journey to discover the mathematical foundations of cartography and cartographical influences on mathematics. From a sixteenth-century map that remains an indispensable navigation tool despite emphasizing the North–South divide, and maps of voting districts that can empower or silence whole communities, to public transport maps that both guide and mislead passengers, she reveals how maps and maths shape not only our sense of space and time but also our worldview.

Through entertaining stories, surprising real-world examples and a cast of unforgettable characters, Mapmatics helps us to appreciate the mathematical methods and ideas behind maps. And, by illuminating how our world works, leaves us better equipped to understand and look after it.

Media Reviews

A wonderfully readable adventure through the mathematic poetry of mapping. Dr Rowińska has created something really special, a book that celebrates the science and ideas behind the cartographic art with tales of everything fascinating, from criminal geography to ancient earthquake detectors. An essential guide that illuminates how much of our understanding of the world, the past, and indeed the people around us, is shaped by the mathematician and the mapmaker. – Edward Brooke-Hitching, author of The Phantom Atlas

Opens our eyes to the use of ‘mapmaking’ in the broadest sense . . . If you have ever wondered why an airliner bound from London to Los Angeles flies over Greenland, how we know what lies inside the Earth, or how computers correct errors, then this is for you. I learned a lot. – John Gribbin, author of Six Impossible Things

A highly readable account of how mathematics and mapmaking have joined forces to inform not only our view of the world, but our view of ourselves. The historical insights and human stories bring the whole topic vividly to life. – Ian Stewart, author of What’s the Use?

This book blew my mind, again and again. Rowińska covers an astonishing range of topics from our brain to our planet, with personal stories and maths, yes, but also scrutinising the social and political impacts of maps on our lives. – Roma Agrawal, author of Built

Guides you elegantly, like a beautifully drawn map, through the fascinating stories behind centuries of map-making . . . Highly entertaining. – Tim James, author of Fundamental

Rowińska spins a fascinating story about the development of maps and maths. It’s no exaggeration to say I learned something new on almost every page. – Kit Yates, author of How to Expect the Unexpected

Tackles the connections between maths and maps with aplomb . . . engaging, and thought-provoking, and perfectly encapsulates much of the essence of map-making. – Kenneth Field, author of Cartography

Blends broad subject expertise, magical storytelling skills and a splash of humour to ensure that the reader can joyfully navigate the maths of mapmaking. – Bobby Seagull, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers

A delightful journey into the mathematics of maps, globes, and world travel. Paulina Rowińska has a beautiful writing style and a wealth of important knowledge – she will keep you engaged on every page. – Jo Boaler, author of Limitless Mind

What a delightful book! On the surface (no pun intended), this book looks like a fun exploration of problems that arise as we create, navigate, or otherwise interact with maps. Along the way, we encounter many curious characters, and learn a surprising amount about history and psychology. But at the end of our journey, as we follow the twists and turns of Paulina Rowińska’s marvelous and often humorous prose, without the use of any formulas, we come away with an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics. Highly recommended! – Arthur Benjamin, author of The Magic of Math

More about this author