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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pleasure of mathematics
All students who have undertaken a calculus course know that "e" is a very important number and on eof the cornerstones of modern mathematics; but very few students - I am afraid - know its fascinating story. That's why Eli Maor decided to fill this gap and to write his book on the story of "e": he starts with the invention of logarithms by the...
Published on 26 Dec 2000

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, not outstanding
I read a lot of this popular science stuff, especially stories about math and physics. For me, this book was interesting reading, but it is not among the best in the genre.
Published on 6 Nov 2009 by Risto


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pleasure of mathematics, 26 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: "e", The Story of a Number (Paperback)
All students who have undertaken a calculus course know that "e" is a very important number and on eof the cornerstones of modern mathematics; but very few students - I am afraid - know its fascinating story. That's why Eli Maor decided to fill this gap and to write his book on the story of "e": he starts with the invention of logarithms by the Scottish nobleman John Napier and guides the reader in a wonderful voyage through the mathematical discoveries of the last four centuries. In this voyage, the interested reader can meet real giants of mathematics such as Newton, Euler and the Bernoullis; he can study curious mathematical curves such as the logarithmic spiral and the catenary; he can understand how calculus was born and how it developed in the minds of the great mathematicians of the 17th Century. The book is noteworthy because of the crystal-clear mathematical accuracy with which Eli Maor explains the facts of his story; therefore a maths background is necessary to enjoy reading this book. Finally, eli Maor makes his book even more interesting by adding some "capsules" on various subjects, such as the importance of hyperbolic functions, the relationship between music and maths, the beauty of the decorative patterns that use the logarithmic spiral. A book that should be in the library of every maths-loving person.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating book with a brave title, 9 July 2001
By 
Paul Carson (Chesham, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: "e", The Story of a Number (Paperback)
There aren't many good maths books out there, but this is definitely one of them. It manages to describe the concepts - mentioned below in other reviews - so well that by the end you wish you could meet the author and have a chat about mathematics; the sign of a really good book.
The level is about 18+ and it will be of great benefit to maths students going to or at university. It was recommended to me by my lecturer; not surprisingly, I ignored him, but I found it a few years later. I kicked myself when i finished...I wish i had read it earlier. The title doesn't help either...it turns you off immediately...so he's either brave or stupid to call it that...!
It is true that e is an extremely important number, and really, it is far more interesting than pi in many ways. Unravelling its history leads to an explanation of many interesting areas of mathematics, and calculus is described well. The explanation of logs wasn't all that great, but it tied the book together.
If you're a maths student, it will help give subjects you cover some background and perspective. You may understand them better too, so...go and read it now!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting little curiousity..., 12 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: "e", The Story of a Number (Paperback)
I thought this was and excellent book, tracing the story of e from Napier logarithms through to the development of calculus and beyond. The author's style is excellent producing an interesting, easily read, non-technical history which fleshes out some of the great characters in the history mathematics. There are also some really diverting asides. If you've any interest in the history of mathematics, I'd recommend this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Wonderful Book, 5 Dec 2010
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Anyone with modest mathematical knowledge ('AS' - level for example)and an interest in mathematics would benefit from reading this delightful book. Apart from the material directly related to 'e' there are also highly readable accounts of the dispute between Leibniz and Newton, the rivalry of the Bernoullis and the genius of Euler. I particularly enjoyed the chapters 'Squaring the Hyperbola' and 'The Imaginary becomes Real'. The latter builds to simple mappings of the complex plane, illustrating analyticity, the Cauchy - Riemann Equations and their link to Laplace's equation.The historical aspect to the book is entertaining and the mathematics explained well. Highly recommended.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A-level maths standard, but explained in historical context, 12 May 2000
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M. Ringrose (Northwood, Middlesex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: "e", The Story of a Number (Paperback)
This book quite clearly explains a lot of well-known theorems and their historical context. It is not "high-brow" or obtuse, as some maths history books can be. It is not necessary to read the proofs if you don't want to. It is not just about "e", but explains a little about pi and i also. The only bit that I found confusing at first was the lack of a worked example of Napiers original logarithm table, which is very early in the book. Neither did I think that there was an explanation of the practical logic behind Napier's original sparse log tables (apart from the fact that they take a long time to create by hand). However, there is a worked example near the end of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear and readable insight into a key mathematical topic, 4 Dec 2010
By 
M. F. Cayley (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a clear and very readable exposition of the background to the discovery of one of the key numbers in maths - e - and of its significance. Maor assumes very little prior mathematical knowledge, and takes the reader from elementary arithmetic to some quite sophisticated concepts. Along the way, when he refers to the more difficult mathematical sequences, equations etc which he has explained earlier, he reminds the reader in easy-to-follow terms what they mean and why they are relevant. This makes the book very suitable for non-mathematicians. Maor intersperses the maths with more general historical material. In the later chapters a non-expert will occasionally need to apply quite a bit of concentration to grasp the full detail, but the effort is worthwhile: and even if readers just skim these passages, they will still gain enough insight to follow the argument. Thoroughly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars e-eee - amazing, 25 Feb 2014
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An enjoyable journey through the history of e. As a one-time user of Log tables and slide-rules user I can but wonder at the remarkable mathematics behind them. As enjoyable a history of e as I have come across. It gives an interesting insight into need powering break-thoughs, followed by development of the notation, then the development of the fundamental theoretic concepts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 17 Jan 2013
By 
00Bay (England, UK) - See all my reviews
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I loved this book. It goes through the history of e in chronological order, starting with the discovery / invention of logarithms, and proceeding to all the other contexts in which e kept cropping up (limit of compound interest paid continuously, the curve which differentiates to itself, the equation of a hanging chain, its relation to pi in the context of imaginary numbers).

The main proofs were sent to appendices at the back, so you can go through the details of the algebra of you want, but if you don't want to then you can skip the proofs without disrupting the flow of the story. I'd say an A-level knowledge of maths is required to understand what it's on about, but if you don't have the equivalent of an A-level then you probably aren't considering buying this book!

One of the last chapters discusses e^i pi + 1 = 0 in a philosophical way, which was nice. I knew the results already but it was great to see how the story of e unravelled over the centuries, get to know some of the mathematicians who were involved, and the material is well presented in an interesting way.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For mystics, philosophers, or even mathematicians!, 16 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: "e", The Story of a Number (Paperback)
This is a truly excellent book. This is not a collection of bound papers, this is an exhaustive study of e and we are guided by the author's own thoughts and opinions throughout. Collections of papers, although useful in saving us the legwork, are a cop-out. The author(s) does not need to make any personal input at all. It is the author's easy and informative style that makes this book so accessible to such a wide audience. Whether you are a mystic, a philosopher, a numerologist or just an ordinary mathematician, you will not be disappointed with this work!
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great present, 31 July 2009
i gave this book as a present to my husband and he's very pleased! he likes reading books related to mathematics and sciences and he's a good critic so he tells me if they weren't good. well recommended!
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"e", The Story of a Number by Eli Maor (Paperback - 24 May 1998)
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