"E": The Story of a Number

"E": The Story of a Number

Paperback Princeton Science Library (Paperback)

By (author) Eli Maor

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 18mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 8 February 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691141347
  • ISBN 13: 9780691141343
  • Illustrations note: 6 halftones. 74 line illus.
  • Sales rank: 70,941

Product description

The interest earned on a bank account, the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and 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 elegant mathematics that lie behind the number. Designed for a reader with only a modest background in mathematics, this biography of e brings out that number's central importance in mathematics and illuminates a golden era in the age of science.

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Author information

Eli Maor is the author of "Venus in Transit", "Trigonometric Delights", "To Infinity and Beyond", and "The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-Year History" (all Princeton). He teaches the history of mathematics at Loyola University in Chicago and at the Graham School of General Education at the University of Chicago.

Review quote

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

Table of contents

Preface John Napier, 1614 2Recognition 3Financial Matters 4To the Limit, If It Exists 5Forefathers of the Calculus 6Prelude to Breakthrough 7Squaring the Hyperbola 8The Birth of a New Science 9The Great Controversy 10e[superscript x]: The Function That Equals its Own Derivative 11e[superscript theta]: Spira Mirabilis 12(e[superscript x] + e[superscript -x])/2: The Hanging Chain 13e[superscript ix]: "The Most Famous of All Formulas" 14e[superscript x + iy]: The Imaginary Becomes Real 15But What Kind of Number Is It? App. 1. Some Additional Remarks on Napier's Logarithms App. 2. The Existence of lim (1 + 1/n)[superscript n] as n [approaches] [infinity] App. 3. A Heuristic Derivation of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus App. 4. The Inverse Relation between lim (b[superscript h] - 1)/h = 1 and lim (1 + h)[superscript 1/h] = b as h [approaches] 0 App. 5. An Alternative Definition of the Logarithmic Function App. 6. Two Properties of the Logarithmic Spiral App. 7. Interpretation of the Parameter [phi] in the Hyperbolic Functions App. 8. e to One Hundred Decimal Places Bibliography Index