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e: The Story of a Number by Eli Maor

e: The Story of a Number (1994)

by Eli Maor

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Showing 5 of 5
I doubt this book appeals to readers with 'modest background in mathematics' as the cover promises. 'e' is the base of the natural logarithm. I vaguely recalled that e was the only number that was its own derivative. This book is at its best describing the discovery of 'e', and its historical import.

As a non-mathematician I had to skip the most complicated moments, but still appreciated the overall story. ( )
  kcshankd | Jan 18, 2016 |
Mathematics, History ( )
  daudzoss | Jul 29, 2012 |
Like its more famous cousin pi, e is an irrational number that shows up in unexpected places all over mathematics. It also has a much more recent history, not appearing on the scene until the 16th century. My favorite parts of this book were the historical anecdotes such as the competitive Bernoullis and the Nerwton-Leibniz cross-Channel calculus feud. Unfortunately, this math history text is much heavier on the math than the history, including detailed descriptions of limits, derivatives, integrals, and imaginary numbers. The trouble with this large number of equationsis that if you’re already familiar with the concepts you’ll be doing a lot of skimming, but if the subject is confusing then reading this book will probably not give you any new insights. In short, as much as I normally enjoy books about math and science, this particular one felt too much like a textbook. Recommended only for those folks with a very strong love for the calculus and related topics. ( )
  melydia | Feb 28, 2012 |
To a non-math person, the best thing about this book will be the title. It is quite dense in advanced calculus, complex variables and crazy concepts of number theory that I would have had to use a pad of paper on the side to figure out what was really going on. The problem for me was that I didn't see a particular point to the whole exercise, other than e is a very special case among irrational/transcendental numbers, namely it is the only function (an 'equation') that is equal to its own derivative. If that makes no sense to you then all you need to do is chuckle at the title. By the way, 'e' is a notation for a special base in a logarithm system. On a calculator you will find a button 'log' for base-10 logarithms (and an inverse 10^x) as well as a 'ln' for natural logarithms, with its inverse 'e^x'. Again, if this makes no sense then just giggle a little politely and back away slowly. ( )
  DirtPriest | Jun 11, 2011 |
  benskinner | Feb 24, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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In memory of my parents, Richard and Luise Metzger
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Rarely in the history of science has an abstract mathematical idea been received more enthusiastically by the entire scientific community than the invention of logarithms.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0691058547, Paperback)

Until about 1975, logarithms were every scientist's best friend. They were the basis of the slide rule that was the totemic wand of the trade, listed in huge books consulted in every library. Then hand-held calculators arrived, and within a few years slide rules were museum pieces.

But e remains, the center of the natural logarithmic function and of calculus. Eli Maor's book is the only more or less popular account of the history of this universal constant. Maor gives human faces to fundamental mathematics, as in his fantasia of a meeting between Johann Bernoulli and J.S. Bach. e: The Story of a Number would be an excellent choice for a high school or college student of trigonometry or calculus. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Interest earned on a bank account . . . arrangement of seeds in a sunflower . . . the shape of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis . . . are all intimately connected with the mysterious number "e". In this informal and engaging history, Eli Maor portrays the curious characters and the mathematics that lie behind the number e. Designed for a reader with only a modes background in mathematics, this book brings out e's central importance in mathematics. Illustrated.… (more)

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