A good general mathematics reference book?


Possibly slightly OT, but I need to refresh my brain and everyone here seems knowledgeable and practical!

My candidate so far is "Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers" by Gullberg.

This was triggered by blindly grabbing my 50g today to do a curve fit on a protocol latency issue (time vs compressed packet size) to see if I'd written a stinker.

Some lunch-time introspection revealed I actually no longer know how to do a curve fit without it and can also no longer decipher half of Wikipedia's article on the subject. I'm not sure I ever could to be honest due to my passing-exams focused education. I wish to fix this/myself by stuffing my face in a book for a few weeks.

Any suggestions or pointers gratefully accepted.


Three examples of all-in-one math books for science and engineering types looking for a refresher are:
1) Basic Training in Mathematics: A Fitness Program for Science Students by R. Shankar.
2) All You Wanted to Know About Mathematics but Were Afraid to Ask (2 volume set) by Louis Lyons.
3) Methods of Mathematics Applied to Calculus, Probability, and Statistics by Richard Hamming. The first 2 are written by physicists, and the 3rd by a numerical analyst. Lyons is the most comprehensive, Shankar includes answers, and Hamming is the most accessible.

Numerically-oriented books (most out-of-print) with great insights are:
1) Essentials of Numerical Analysis with Pocket Calculator Demonstrations by Peter Henrici. The accompanying book written by Peter Henrici and his wife Marie, Numerical Analysis: Demonstrations on the HP-33E, includes rpn code.
2) Mathematics for Science and Engineering by Philip Alger. This book was based on the old Engineering Mathematics book by the famous GE engineer Charles Steinmetz.
3) Numerical Methods for Scientists and Engineers, and the more abbreviated, Introduction to Applied Numerical Analysis, both by Richard Hamming.


Thanks for your suggestions. Much appreciated.


Depends what you are after but I've had a copy of Abramowitz and Stegun for years - online version here

Mike T.


I have three general math reference books:

Schuam's Outlines "Mathematical Handbook of Formulas and Tables"

CRC Standard Mathematical Tables and Formulae - I have the 32 edition as a digital download

"Handbook of Mathematical, Scientific, and Engineering Formulas, Tables, Functions, Graphs, Transforms" - REA. I have the 1984 edition (given to me by my dad for my 17th birthday), which has gotten a lot of use since.


I have the Schaum's too...thanks to a tip from the time I asked the exact same question here. As for the CRC, I have the 1st edition, the 32nd edition, and 2/3 of the editions in between (collecting math books is another hobby of mine...I have over 300 books!)



"The CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Third Edition", Eric W. Weisstein


"The Princeton Companion to Mathematics" , Growers

"Mathematics: It's Content, Methods, and Meaning", A. D. Aleksandrov, A. N. Kolmogorov, M. A. Lavrent'ev


If you're looking for a compact reference book:

"Taschenbuch der Mathematik", I. N. Bronstein, K. A. Semendjajev, 13th edition of 1973 (585 pages, < 18 x 13 x 3cm)

brought me through my studies, heavily used then and thereafter. Hope there is an English translation, too.



"Taschenbuch der Mathematik", I. N. Bronstein, K. A. Semendjajev, 13th edition of 1973 (585 pages, < 18 x 13 x 3cm)

This is an excellent reference book for mathematics, indeed! I stole it from my father years ago, but I let him use it still from time to time. :)
I have it in English: "A Guide-Book to Mathematics", edition 1971, but I don't know if it is still available. Maybe in an old books' store?

Alex - Greece


Many copies of this book (in various English-language editions) are available here:



14 more here:



Thanks - have ordered this book in the UK for a mere £4.50!

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