Dan Cohen's Reviews > e: the Story of a Number

e by Eli Maor
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May 05, 2012

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bookshelves: science-and-maths
Read on May 05, 2012

This book surprised me a bit by being more of an actual maths book (ie. not just a maths history / popularisation book) than I expected. Having said that, it stayed mainly on the right side of the line for me and I could skate over it without much impact in those places where the maths got a bit more technical than I wanted to bother with. And it was good to be reminded what actual maths is about in a way that wasn't too disconcerting. The maths in the book is followable to anyone with A-level standard, although some of the subjects (eg. complex analysis) are things you'd only cover in a degree course. I liked the attempts to get under the skin of some of the maths and examine, for example, the ways in which e is analogous to pi. Perhaps the hyperbolic functions were explained that way to me when I learned about them at school, but the exposition here was definitely illuminating. Worth a read if you want to skip the actual maths for the historical and big picture stuff, and even more useful if you don't mind ploughing through the maths for a deeper understanding.
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