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Basic Mathematics for Biochemists
(2nd edition)

This page describes the book Basic Mathematics for Biochemists (2nd edn.) by Athel Cornish-Bowden, published by Oxford University Press (1999): ISBN 0 19 850216 8 (paperback).

cover design


Publication details

Published by Oxford University Press Oxford and New York.

Price: paperback (ISBN 0 19 850216 8) 21.99 or $34.50. The prices were last checked on 23rd November 2004 but may change without notice. The hardback edition (ISBN 0 19 850217 6) is no longer available.

An order form can be obtained from the publisher in Oxford or New York.

This is a new edition of the book published under the same title by Chapman and Hall in 1981. Two chapters (the first and the last) are completely new, and the remainder have been thoroughly revised to make the treatment more suitable for modern students of biochemistry.



This book is available from and

Chapter and Section Titles

Errors in the book as printed

p.6, expression after line 4, and equation following it:

–6ab in the numerator should be –12ab

p. 7, first displayed expression in Section 1.3

The third fraction in the expression should be 3/10 (instead of 3/100)

p.8, equation after line 5, and the next equation three lines down

In the first equation, (2 – 6)/(15 – 6) – (1 – 15)/(6 – 15) should be (2 × 6)/(15 × 6) - (1 × 15)/(6 × 15), i.e. four out of the five minus signs in the expression should be multiplication signs. A very similar error occurs in the next equation, where (2 – 2)/(15 – 2) – (1 – 5)/(6 – 5) should be (2 × 2)/(15 × 2) – (1 × 5)/(6 × 5)

p. 26, answer 2

Delete the second this (at the beginning of the last line).

p. 28, problem 1.3(e)

The expression given has no rational factors; to give the solution shown on p. 201 it should be 9x2 + 12xy + 4y2.

p. 34, Box 2.3, part B

The decimal point in 8.7 should be written above the line. This may be difficult to show correctly on the web as not all browsers understand the code, but in principle this should be correct: 8·7

p. 37, Box 2.5: line starting with 12/2/3

6/32 should be 6/3=2

p. 35, Box 2.4

Line 3 of the right-hand column should read NOT 152 = 225. Being a negative statement the form actually given is not wrong, but there is no logical reason to give it rather than any other negative statement.

p. 49, Fig. 2.7 legend (a)

For different read difficult.

p. 56 Problem 2.1(e)

See correction to solution (p. 202) below.

p. 67, line 6 from the bottom

The word No is missing from the beginning of the line. The sentence should read No corresponding formula exists for calculating logarithms to any other base....

p. 73, line 13 of 2nd paragraph

For Similarly Ka means read Similarly pKa means (add p)

p. 77, line 2 of 2nd paragraph

For Suppose that *gkcapdeltaG0 = read Suppose that *gkcapdeltaG01 = (add subscript 1)

p. 77, last line of 2nd paragraph

For E ln K1 = K2 read E ln K1 = ln K2 (add ln)

p. 78, line 4

The value of the Faraday constant is 96485 coulomb mol–1.

p. 78, first displayed equation on the page

Add volt after 0.77 in the middle expression. The unit written at the end of the line was intended to refer to both terms, but to be 100% clear it might be better to write "volt" after the second 0.77 as well.

p. 84, second displayed equation

This should read *gkcapdeltaE0' = *gkcapdeltaG0'/nF

p. 87, line 1

For any product read a product or ratio

p. 87, Series of equations near the bottom of the page

The third line should read –0.11 + 0.03pKa – 0.09pH (i.e. the second minus should be plus).

p. 88, Fig 3.2

The equation in the upper text of the graph should read Eo = +0.03 – 0.09pH instead of Eo = –0.03 – 0.09pH

p. 90, Problem 3.1(i)

See correction to p. 203 below.

p. 93, line 16

x = –b/a should read x = –a/b

p. 103, 4th displayed equation

The approximately equal sign should be an ordinary = sign.

p. 115, 5th displayed equation

This is identical to the equation above it, and should be deleted.

p. 115, last displayed equation

Insert = before the second pKa

p. 117, 2nd line of 1st displayed equation

Delete exp before the open curly bracket.

p. 118, Problem 4.6

The y in and y is a constant should have a tilde.

p. 122, Example 5.1

The function should be y = 6x2 – 2x + 5 instead of y = 4x2 – 2x + 5 in order to give the integral shown.

p. 124, line 5

will produce in a should read: will produce ln a.

p. 127, first displayed equation

The numerator of the second term on the right-hand side should be A2.

p. 127, Example 5.3 line for from the end

For so P + Q read so P = Q (replace plus by equals).

p. 134, Mechanism in the middle of the page

The second step should be shown as reversible, with a rate constant k–2 for the reverse reaction.

p. 136, penultimate line of text

The first (y1 + y2)h/2 should be (y0 + y1)h/2. (The second time this expression occurs in the line it is correct).

p. 137, penultimate equation

The equation should read ch2 = (y2 - 2y1 + y0)/2

p. 138, first equation

The expression in square brackets at the right-hand side should be ax + (1/2)bx2 + (1/3)cx3, i.e. the fraction (1/2) should be moved to the other side of the + sign.

p. 139 Problem 5.1(e)

The denominator of the expression to be integrated should be 2 – x (minus, not plus), to give the solution shown on p. 205.

p. 140 Problem 5.8

The last symbol in the first displayed equation should be c not C. Three lines down, the L in g/L should not be italic.

p. 163, fourth equation (expression for [G2–])

The coefficient 5 × 10–10 should be 2 × 10–10

p. 165, second equation

Delete the superscript 2 at the end of the equation. Note.When this error was first reported on this web page the page number was wrongly given as p. 163. There is a different correction to be made on p. 163.

p. 167, Problem 6.2

The symbol V1 near the end of the first line should be v1.

p. 167, problem 6.3(a)

See the correction to the solution on p. 207.

p. 170, first equation

The middle expression should be R/p instead of R/Tp

p. 171, last sentence of last complete paragraph

For if we recall the expression for the derivative of a ratio (Section 4.6) read if we recall the expression for the derivative of a product (Section 4.4).

p. 185, Box 8.3, line 9 equal to ...

The summation should be *gkcapsigmax not *gkcapsigman.

p. 193, Box 8.3 continued, table in the middle of the page

The value of 9.64 shown in line 3 as the squared of 3.1 should be 9.91, and the sum shown below it should be 39.14. In consequence the value of s2 shown in the first line of text after the table should be 2.807, not 2.817. However, the value s = 1.675 is correct.

p. 192, legend to Fig. 8.1, line 2

For superimposed on panel (c) read superimposed on panel (e).

p. 192, line 6 from the bottom

For and a sample mean close to the population standard deviation read and a sample standard deviation close to the population standard deviation.

p. 196, Table 8.1

The value in the Probability corresponding to 4 in the first column should be 0.1730, not 0.0976. This error affects all of the later entries in the Cumulative probability column, which should be 0.4115, 0.5918, 0.7468, 0.8598, 0.9312, 0.9709, 0.9905, replacing 0.3360, 0.5163 ..., and also requires correction of the text on p. 197 (see below).

p. 197, line 2 (effect of error in Table 8.1: see above)

For This means there is chance of 1 – 0.8557, i.e. 0.1443, or about 14% of observing at least nine read This means there is a chance of 1 – 0.9312, i.e. 0.0688, or about 7% of observing at least nine.

p 192, line 13

The end of the sentence should read and a sample standard deviation close to the population standard deviation.

p. 201, Problem 1.3(e)

See correction to p. 28 above.

p. 202, Problem 2.1(e)

The solution should be 3.617. (The solution given would be correct for summation from i = 1 to 6).

p. 203, Solution to problem 3.1(i)

4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 24 (not 120, which is 5!).

p. 205, Solution to problem 5.1(e)

See the correction to the problem (p. 139, above).

p. 207, Solution to problem 6.3(a)

The value of x should be 1, not –1.

p. 207, Solution to problems 6.3(e–f)

The solution given for problem 6.3(e) is actually the solution to problem 6.3(f); the solution to problem 6.3(e) is missing. (It will be added here after checking)

p. 207, Solution to problem 6.6(c)

The value should be 41, not 51.

p. 208, Fourth line of page (remarks following solutions to problem 6.6)

For This is normal is scientific problems read This is normal in scientific problems.

p. 208, Solution to problems 6.11-12

The solution given for problem 6.11 is actually the solution to problem 6.12; the solution to problem 6.11 is missing. (It will be added here after checking)

p. 209, Solution to problem 8.6(c)

1.48/70.5 = 0.56 (not 0.60).

p. 216, the definition of point of inflection is not quite correct (though it is correct for the sort of functions normally encountered in elementary biochemistry). Rather than stating that the second derivative is zero it would be better to say that it is normally zero, though it may also be undefined, in certain cases beyond the scope of the book.

This list was last updated on 22nd December 2006. If you notice any other errors, please let me know. I thank the following correspondents for drawing my attention to most of those noted: