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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

on 10 May 2017
A very detailed and not too difficult overview of the second most famous number in mathematics. I loved it and refer to it often. One
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
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on 5 December 2010
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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on 17 August 2017
Fascinating and written for (nearly) everyone to be able to enjoy.
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on 19 November 2017
Arrived on time and exactly as described. Just started reading it and it is fascinating.
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on 12 February 2000
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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on 4 December 2010
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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on 26 December 2000
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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on 9 July 2001
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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on 12 May 2000
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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on 17 January 2013
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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