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# e: the Story of a Number

by
Eli Maor

The story of [pi] has been told many times, both in scholarly works and in popular books. But its close relative, the number e, has fared less well: despite the central role it plays in mathematics, its history has never before been written for a general audience. The present work fills this gap. Geared to the reader with only a modest background in mathematics, the book d
...more

Paperback, 248 pages

Published
May 24th 1998
by Princeton University Press
(first published January 1st 1993)

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## Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)

Jul 13, 2012
Bill Ward
rated it
really liked it

Recommends it for:
Valerie Neer

Shelves:
math,
geeky-history

Everyone knows about π, the ratio 3.14159... the universal constant governing circles. The constant

*e*is just as important if not more so, but never managed to break its way into popular culture because it's a little hard to understand just what makes it so special. This book makes a valiant effort to redress that shortcoming, by explaining the history of logarithms and calculus and how the last 400 years of mathematics developed, empowered largely by this mysterious number which, before the inv ...more*e*), Maor experiences what can only be described as a "John Nash moment". Here he departs from his straight-laced account to describe, at length, an imagined conversation between J. S. Bach and Johann Bernoulli.

*Bernoulli*: That perfectly fits my love for orderly sequences of numbers.

*Bach*: But there is a problem. A scale constructed from these ratios consists of three basic intervals: 9:8, 10:9, and 16:15. The first two are nea ...more

*e*is something they may vaguely remember from an intermediate high school math class, but certainly isn’t something that is as familiar to them as π. For many of those people, the math in this book might be a bit intimidating. If it discourages them from picking up this book, that would be unfortunate, because the author does a pretty good job of explaining the history of the math that involves the use of

*e*and its importance in solving a number of difficult ...more

However all this was interspersed with chapters on the major figures in mathematical history, and a sequential description of it's advancement, which was inter ...more

A good book from Eli Maor. Nearly rated 4 stars but I'm a bit of a meanie. The book is a nice mixture of history / biography and mathematics. Rather more actual mathematics than is usual for this type of book but it's well presented and, of course, the reader can skip the bits of maths wherever s/he gets bored of them (I did, quite a lot!) The author writes really well and the text is a joy to read.

For my part I would have liked more of the history / biography stuff and a little less of the math ...more

Although from the title of the book it seems that the book only concerns exponentials and logarithms, the fact is the author takes you from the first attempts of humans to understand numbers and their nature, to the discovery of irrational numbers and, later on, to transcendental numbers, the creation of imaginary numbers and the struggle to "make peace" with them. The author beautifully introduces ...more

Jan 29, 2012
Maurizio Codogno
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
storia-della-matematica

Il pi greco lo conoscono tutti o quasi; ma non è il solo numero "molto interessante" per i matematici. Secondo a ben poca distanza c'è infatti il numero

*e*, che vale circa 2,718 e appare anch'esso nei punti più diversi della matematica; dal calcolo dell'area sotto un'iperbole a quello degli interessi composti, dai logaritmi alle funzioni trigonometriche. Nella sua bella collana a basso prezzo che recupera varie opere di storia della matematica, la Princeton University Press ha recuperato questo t ...more*e*, che vale circa 2,718 e appare anch'esso nei punti più diversi della matematica; dal calcolo dell'area sotto un'iperbole a quello degli interessi composti, dai logaritmi alle funzioni trigonometriche. Nella sua bella collana a basso prezzo che recupera varie opere di storia della matematica, la Princeton University Press ha recuperato questo t ...more

It is not a really light read, but it is easy enough for anyone who has studied calculus to understand. ...more

Mar 03, 2016
Michal Paszkiewicz
added it

Very easy to read, but a great refresher of trigonometry and calculus. Packed with lots of fun facts, this is very enjoyable and a must read for anyone interested in the history of maths.

Still, it was interesting reading Maor's summary of the whole Newton/Liebniz kerfuffle (of course I knew there had been one, but I'd never read about it in detail before). And it was neat seeing how Newton's notation worked. Plus, the stuff about the inven ...more

I last Calculus class I had was in June of last year. Although it was a fair review for some topics, I couldn't say I understood everything explained or learned anything new. For an author trying to each a standard audience I don't think he did well.

I did find the historical sections of the book interesting.

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