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"e": The Story of a Number (Princeton Science Library) Paperback – 8 Feb 2009
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e: The Story of a Number begins by describing the transition in mathematics brought about by the introduction of the microchip. 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 and were listed in the huge books that were consulted in every library. Then handheld calculators arrived, and within a few years slide rules were museum pieces.
But e remains, the centre 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 JS Bach. e: The Story of a Number would be an excellent choice for a any student of trigonometry or calculus. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Honorable Mention for the 1994 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Mathematics, Association of American Publishers
"This is a gently paced, elegantly composed book, and it will bring its readers much pleasure.... Maor has written an excellent book that should be in every public and school library."--Ian Stewart, New Scientist
"Maor wonderfully tells the story of e. The chronological history allows excursions into the lives of people involved with the development of this fascinating number. Maor hangs his story on a string of people stretching from Archimedes to David Hilbert. And by presenting mathematics in terms of the humans who produced it, he places the subject where it belongs--squarely in the centre of the humanities."--Jerry P. King, Nature
"Maor has succeeded in writing a short, readable mathematical story. He has interspersed a variety of anecdotes, excursions, and essays to lighten the flow.... [The book] is like the voyages of Columbus as told by the first mate."--Peter Borwein, Science
"Maor attempts to give the irrational number e its rightful standing alongside pi as a fundamental constant in science and nature; he succeeds very well.... Maor writes so that both mathematical newcomers and long-time professionals alike can thoroughly enjoy his book, learn something new, and witness the ubiquity of mathematical ideas in Western culture."--Choice
"It can be recommended to readers who want to learn about mathematics and its history, who want to be inspired and who want to understand important mathematical ideas more deeply."--EMS Newsletter
Top customer reviews
of the joys is the copious graphs that so well illustrate the ideas. Good explanations of how e entered into maths and has come
almost to dominate it, and how e is related to the trigonometrical functions we learnt at school and to the square root of minus one.
This book is a valuable addition to other portraits of individual numbers, for example "Zero" by Charles Seife, or "An Imaginary Tale, The
Story of root minus one" by Paul Nahin. For those who wish to pursue e to a high technical level, I recommend "Dr Euler's Famous
Formula" also by Paul Nahin (university level). Can you guess what this famous formuls is? Don't look immediately at the next line!
It is of course e^i.pi = -1
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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