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# e: the Story of a Number

by

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

## Get A Copy

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

*e: The Story of a Number*certainly lives up to its title!

The book begins with an introduction to logarithms, highlighting the relationship between the arithmetic and geometric progressions contained therein. Then we learn how the enigmatic number e was already slyly peeking out at us, way back in the day, in the realm of compound interest. Next we have a fairly decent discussion of limits and infinity. Then, after some binomial formula gymnastics, which are aided by an obliging infinite series, ...more

e - is irrational number which is the basis of the natural logarithm. Sounds daunting, but one can think of this number as a basis for measuring rate of change in many processes involving so called exponential growth (the rate o ...more

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 ...moreUnlike pi, which has been known for thousands of years, and which was foundational to geometry, one of Mathematics' oldest branches, e has been around for a shorter ...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

Although there was a lot of overlap initially with mathematics covered in high school cirricula (e.g. logarithms, compound interest formula, limits & Zeno's paradox, differentiation from first principles, binomial theorem/Pascal's tr ...more

Nov 17, 2018
Jennifer
rated it
it was ok
·
review of another edition

Recommended to Jennifer by:
Goodreads

Shelves:
science-nature

Too. Much. Calculus. I was hoping this would be more like The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number, but it wasn't. For one thing, this book has differential equations. A lot of them. As a STEM major, I did study calculus at the university level (but not Dif Eq), but this was still hard going. What really helped get me through the book were the historical anecdotes, and the parts of the book I was able to follow well were also well-done.

Eli Maor is extremely capable at distilling complex concepts into simple and intuitive explanations, and weaving the human nature of discovery into the story of this number.

e, the number, is visible so much in the world around us, and this book does an excellent job at explaining the significan ...more

e is Napier's constant.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_(math...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_(math...

*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

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

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

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