Is Maths Real?

How Simple Questions Lead Us to Mathematics’ Deepest Truths

One of the world’s most creative mathematicians offers a new way to look at math—focusing on questions, not answers

Where do we learn math: From rules in a textbook? From logic and deduction? Not really, according to mathematician Eugenia Cheng: we learn it from human curiosity—most importantly, from asking questions. This may come as a surprise to those who think that math is about finding the one right answer, or those who were told that the “dumb” question they asked just proved they were bad at math. But Cheng shows why people who ask questions like “Why does 1 + 1 = 2?” are at the very heart of the search for mathematical truth.

Is Math Real? is a much-needed repudiation of the rigid ways we’re taught to do math, and a celebration of the true, curious spirit of the discipline. Written with intelligence and passion, Is Math Real? brings us math as we’ve never seen it before, revealing how profound insights can emerge from seemingly unlikely sources.

Profile Books (UK), Basic Books (US)

The Joy of Abstraction

An Exploration of Math, Category Theory, and Life

Mathematician and popular science author Eugenia Cheng is on a mission to show you that mathematics can be flexible, creative, and visual. This joyful journey through the world of abstract mathematics into category theory will demystify mathematical thought processes and help you develop your own thinking, with no formal mathematical background needed. The book brings abstract mathematical ideas down to earth using examples of social justice, current events, and everyday life – from privilege to COVID-19 to driving routes. The journey begins with the ideas and workings of abstract mathematics, after which you will gently climb toward more technical material, learning everything needed to understand category theory, and then key concepts in category theory like natural transformations, duality, and even a glimpse of ongoing research in higher-dimensional category theory. For fans of How to Bake Pi, this will help you dig deeper into mathematical concepts and build your mathematical background

Cambridge University Press

Joy of Abstraction Book Club

Bake Infinite Pie with X + Y

By Eugenia Cheng, Illustrated by Amber Ren

Aspiring bakers will embrace this charming picture book about baking pie by using simple math, from one of the world’s most creative and celebrated mathematicians.

X + Y are dreaming of baking infinite pie. But they don’t know if infinite pie is real. With the help of quirky and uber-smart Aunt Z, and a whole lot of flour and butter, X and Y will learn that by using math they can bake their way to success!

This charming and tasty story from mathematician and author of How to Bake Pi, Eugenia Cheng, reassures young readers that math doesn’t have to be scary—especially when paired with pie!

Additional back matter includes: a letter from Eugenia encouraging readers not to be intimidated by math, explanations of the math concepts explored in the book, and a recipe for Banana Butterscotch Pie!

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Coming soon

Molly and the Mathematical Mysteries

Ten Interactive Adventures in Mathematical Wonderland
By Eugenia Cheng, Illustrated by Aleksandra Artymowska

Join Molly as she ventures into a curious world where nothing is quite as it seems. A trail of clues leads from scene to scene, presenting Molly with a number of challenges. But who is leaving the clues, and where will they lead? This interactive mystery shows math isn’t just about numbers—it’s about imagination! An explorative and creative approach to the world of mathematics.

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

x + y
A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender

Why are men in charge? After years in the male-dominated field of mathematics and in the female-dominated field of art, Eugenia Cheng has heard the question many times. In x + y, Cheng argues that her mathematical specialty — category theory — reveals why. Category theory deals more with context, relationships, and nuanced versions of equality than with intrinsic characteristics. Category theory also emphasizes dimensionality: much as a cube can cast a square or diamond shadow, depending on your perspective, so too do gender politics appear to change with how we examine them. Because society often rewards traits that it associates with males, such as competitiveness, we treat the problems those traits can create as male. But putting competitive women in charge will leave many unjust relationships in place. If we want real change, we need to transform the contexts in which we all exist, and not simply who we think we are.

U.S. Edition
U.K. Edition

The Art of Logic
How to Make Sense in a World that Doesn’t

How both logical and emotional reasoning can help us live better in our post-truth world

In a world where fake news stories change election outcomes, has rationality become futile? In The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life. Cheng is a mathematician, so she knows how to make an airtight argument. But even for her, logic sometimes falls prey to emotion, which is why she still fears flying and eats more cookies than she should. If a mathematician can’t be logical, what are we to do? In this bookCheng reveals the inner workings and limitations of logic, and explains why alogic–for example, emotion–is vital to how we think and communicate. Cheng shows us how to use logic and alogic together to navigate a world awash in bigotry, mansplaining, and manipulative memes. Insightful, useful, and funny, this essential book is for anyone who wants to think more clearly.

The Guardian

New York Times

Book Post Review (subscription required)
“one of the clearest, liveliest and most essential math popularizers of our time”

With humour, grace, and a natural gift for making explanations seem fun, Eugenia Cheng has done it again. This is a book to savour, to consult, and to buy for all your friends. You’ll think more clearly after reading this book, something that is unfortunately in short supply these days. I am buying several copies to send to heads of state.

– Daniel Levitin, bestselling author of The Organised Mind & A Field Guide to Lies and Statistics

Witty, charming, and crystal clear. Eugenia Cheng’s enthusiasm and carefully chosen metaphors and analogies carry us effortlessly through the mathematical landscape

– Ian Stewart

Clear, clever and friendly

– Alex Bellos

It takes a talented writer to bring the concept of infinity to life, but Cheng’s infectious enthusiasm makes maths a delight

– BBC Science Focus

A concert pianist, mathematician, polyglot and YouTube star, Cheng has carved out quite a niche for herself … she brings an ebullient enthusiasm that’s infectious

– Guardian

Coming Soon

U.S. Edition
U.K. Edition

Beyond Infinity:
An Expedition to the Outer Limits of Mathematics

The hilarious and charming Eugenia Cheng leads us in search of what’s bigger than infinity, and smaller than its opposite

Imagine something small enough to fit in your head but too large to fit in the world-or even the universe. What would you call it? And what would it be? How about…infinity?

In Beyond Infinity, musician, chef, and mathematician Eugenia Cheng answers this question by taking readers on a startling journey from math at its most elemental to its loftiest abstractions. Beginning with the classic thought experiment of Hilbert’s hotel-the place where you can (almost) always find a room, if you don’t mind being moved from room to room over the course of the night-she explores the wild and woolly world of the infinitely large and the infinitely small. Along the way she considers weighty questions like why some numbers are uncountable or why infinity plus one is not the same as one plus infinity. She finds insight in some unlikely examples: planning a dinner party for 7 billion people using a chessboard, making a chicken-sandwich sandwich, and creating infinite cookies from a finite ball of dough all tell you more about math than you could have imagined.

An irresistible book on the universe’s biggest possible topic, Beyond Infinity will beguile and bewitch you, and show all of us how one little symbol can hold the biggest idea of all.

“Beyond Infinity is witty, charming, and crystal clear. Eugenia Cheng’s enthusiasm and carefully chosen metaphors and analogies carry us effortlessly through the mathematical landscape of the infinite. A brilliant book!”

Ian Stewart, author of Calculating the Cosmos


“The idea of infinity is one of the most perplexing things in mathematics, and the most fun. Eugenia Cheng’s Beyond Infinity is a spirited and friendly guide―appealingly down to earth about math that’s extremely far out.”

Jordan Ellenberg, author ofHow Not to Be Wrong and professor of mathematics at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Coming Soon

U.S. Edition
U.K. Edition

How to Bake Pi:
An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics

What is math? How exactly does it work? And what do three siblings trying to share a cake have to do with it? In How to Bake Pi, math professor Eugenia Cheng provides an accessible introduction to the logic and beauty of mathematics, powered, unexpectedly, by insights from the kitchen. We learn how the béchamel in a lasagna can be a lot like the number five, and why making a good custard proves that math is easy but life is hard. At the heart of it all is Cheng’s work on category theory, a cutting-edge “mathematics of mathematics,” that is about figuring out how math works.

Combined with her infectious enthusiasm for cooking and true zest for life, Cheng’s perspective on math is a funny journey through a vast territory no popular book on math has explored before. So, what is math? Let’s look for the answer in the kitchen.

“A slyly illuminating dispatch on the deep meaning of mathematics. . . . [Cheng] compels us to see numbers and symbols as vivid characters in an ongoing drama, a narrative in which we are alternately observers and participants.”

Natalie Angier, The American Scholar


“Invoking plenty of examples from cooking and baking, as well as other everyday-life situations such as calculating a taxi fare, searching for love through online dating services and training for a marathon, [Cheng] explains abstract mathematical ideas—including topology and logic—in understandable ways. . . .Her lively, accessible book demonstrates how important and intriguing such a pursuit can be.”

Scientific American


“A funny and engaging new book.”

Simon Worrall, National Geographic News


“Why go to all the trouble to write a book to help people understand mathematics? Because, as Cheng observes, ‘understanding is power, and if you help someone understand something, you’re giving them power.’ Read How to Bake Pi and you will, indeed, go away feeling empowered.”

Marc Merlin, Medium


“In her new book, How to Bake Pi, mathematician/baker Eugenia Cheng offers a novel, mathematical approach to cooking. . . . How to Bake Pi is more than a mathematically minded cookbook. It is just as much a book about mathematical theory and how we learn it. The premise at the heart of the book is that the problem that stops a cookbook from teaching us how to cook is the same problem that makes math classes so bad at actually teaching us to do math.”

Ria Misra, io9


“[Cheng’s] book, a very gentle introduction to the main ideas of mathematics in general and category theory in particular, exudes enthusiasm for mathematics, teaching, and creative recipes. Category theory is dangerously abstract,           but Cheng’s writing is down-to-earth and friendly. She’s the kind of person you’d want to talk to at a party, whether about math, food, music, or just the weather. . . . Cheng’s cheerful, accessible writing and colorful examples make How to Bake Pi an entertaining introduction to the fundamentals of abstract mathematical thinking.”

Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American’s Roots of Unity blog


“This is the best book imaginable to introduce someone who doesn’t think they are interested in mathematics at all to some of the deep ideas of category theory, especially if they like to bake.”

MAA Reviews


“Beginning each chapter with a recipe, Cheng converts the making of lasagna, pudding, cookies, and other comestibles into analogies illuminating the mathematical enterprise. Though these culinary analogies teach readers about particular mathematical principles and processes, they ultimately point toward the fundamental character of mathematics as a system of logic, a system presenting daunting difficulties yet offering rare power to make life easier. Despite her zeal for mathematical logic, Cheng recognizes that such logic begins in faith—irrational faith—and ultimately requires poetry and art to complement its findings. A singular humanization of the mathematical project.”

Booklist, starred review


“Cheng is exceptional at translating the abstract concepts of mathematics into ordinary language, a strength aided by a writing style that showcases the workings of her curious, sometimes whimsical mind. This combination allows her to demystify how mathematicians think and work, and makes her love for mathematics contagious.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review


“An original book using recipes to explain sophisticated math concepts to students and even the math-phobic. . . . [Cheng] is a gifted teacher. . . . A sharp, witty book to press on students and even the teachers of math teachers.”

Kirkus Reviews


“A well-written, easy-to-read book.”

Library Journal


“Often entertaining . . . frequently illuminating. . . . [How to Bake Pi] offers enough nourishment for the brain to chew on for a long time.”

Columbus Dispatch


“Through an enthusiasm for cooking and zest for life, the author, a math professor, provides a new way to think about a field we thought we knew.”

CEP Magazine


“Combined with infectious enthusiasm for cooking and a zest for life, Cheng’s perspective on math becomes this singular book: a funny, lively, and clear journey no popular book on math has explored before. How to Bake Pi . . . will dazzle, amuse, and enlighten.”

Gambit Weekly


“This book was fun and covered some cool maths, using some nice analogies, and would serve as a good intro for someone getting into category theory.”

Aperiodical (UK)


“Eugenia Cheng offers an entertaining introduction to the beauty of mathematics by drawing on insights from the kitchen. She explains why baking a flourless cake is like geometry and offers puzzles to whet the appetites of maths fans.”

Times Educational Supplement (UK)


“Quirky recipes, personal anecdotes, and a large dollop of equations are the key ingredients in this alternative guide to maths and the scientific process. You should find it as easy as cooking a pie.”

Observer: Tech Monthly (UK)


“A curious cookbook for the mathematical omnivore.”

Irish Times (Ireland)


“Eugenia Cheng’s charming new book embeds math in a casing of wry, homespun metaphors: math is like vegan brownies, math is like a subway map, math is like a messy desk. Cheng is at home with math the way you’re at home with brownies, maps, and desks, and by the end of How to Bake Pi, you might be, too.”

Jordan Ellenberg, professor of mathematics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and author of How Not to Be Wrong


“With this delightfully surprising book, Eugenia Cheng reveals the hidden beauty of mathematics with passion and simplicity. After reading How to Bake Pi, you won’t look at math (nor porridge!) in the same way ever again.”

Roberto Trotta, astrophysicist, Imperial College London, and author of The Edge of the Sky


“Math is a lot like cooking. We start with the ingredients we have at hand, try to cook up something tasty, and are sometimes surprised by the results. Does this seem odd? Maybe in school all you got was stale leftovers! Try something better: Eugenia Cheng is not only an excellent mathematician and pastry chef, but a great writer, too.”

John Baez, professor of math, University of California, Riverside


“From clotted cream to category theory, neither cookery nor math are what you thought they were. But deep down they’re remarkably similar. A brilliant gourmet feast of what math is really about.”

Ian Stewart, emeritus professor of mathematics, University of Warwick, and author of Visions of Infinity and Professor Stewart’s Incredible Numbers


“This book puts the fun back in math, the fun that I always saw in it, the fun that is nearly sucked from it in K–12 education. . . . I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone with a casual interest in, or deep love of, logic, or mathematics, or baking.”

Melissa A. Wilson Sayres, assistant professor, School of Life Sciences and the Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, and writer of

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