Skip to main content
Trade Books For Courses Tradebooks for Courses

Out of the Labyrinth

Setting Mathematics Free

Ellen Kaplan & Robert Kaplan

Bloomsbury Press

Out of the Labyrinth Download image

ISBN10: 1608198707
ISBN13: 9781608198702


256 Pages



Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Who hasn't feared the math Minotaur in its labyrinth of abstractions? The subject can seem convoluted and forbidding. Yet to do mathematics is to wrestle with "accessible mysteries"—and Out of the Labyrinth shows how exhilarating the challenge can be. Robert and Ellen Kaplan are founders of the Math Circle, a pioneering learning program begun at Harvard in 1994 and now spreading around the world. In their classrooms students ages six to sixty have discovered mathematics as the highest form of intellectual play, while exploring topics that range from Roman numerals to quantum mechanics.

The Kaplans reveal the secrets of their highly successful approach, leading readers out of the labyrinth and into the joyous embrace of mathematics. Stocked with puzzles, colorful anecdotes, and insights from the authors' own teaching experience, Out of the Labyrinth is both an engaging and practical guide for parents and educators, and a treasure chest of mathematical discoveries. For any reader who has felt the excitement of mathematical discovery—or tried to convey it to someone else—this volume will be a delightful and valued companion.


Praise for Out of the Labyrinth

"This beautiful book—full of fun and full of the wisdom of a lifetime of teaching—is so deftly done that by the time the Kaplans tell us that 'math is our other native language,' we believe them utterly."—Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor, Harvard University, author of Imagining Numbers

"A profoundly important book that should be read by all those concerned with mathematics and the state of mathematics education."—James Tanton, founder of St. Mark's Institute of Mathematics

"In this sparkling narrative, mathematics is indeed set free."—Michael Shermer, Scientific American

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Ellen Kaplan & Robert Kaplan

Robert and Ellen Kaplan have taught subjects ranging from Sanskrit through mathematics to philosophy and history, and founded the Math Circle in 1994. Robert Kaplan is the author of the bestselling The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero. Ellen is coauthor, with their son Michael, of Chances Are . . . and Bozo Sapiens. Together, Robert and Ellen are the authors of The Art of the Infinite. Their website is