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Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Among the many constants that appear in mathematics, π, e, and i are the most familiar. Following closely behind is y, or gamma, a constant that arises in many mathematical areas yet maintains a profound sense of mystery.

In a tantalizing blend of history and mathematics, Julian Havil takes the reader on a journey through logarithms and the harmonic series, the two
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published April 6th 2003 by Princeton University Press (first published March 17th 2003)
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Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
Still a favourite of mine, this is perhaps the best 'popular' maths book I've yet come across. I feel the existence of such accounts is something of a niche in mathematics, since most popular books on subjects like physics tend to be largely descriptive and deliberately avoid actual results and derivations for fear of becoming inaccessible. As with Havil's text here, and others like Dunham's, Maor's, Nahin's, et al. however, in mathematics comparable popular treatments will give the lay reader a ...more
Kelly Novak
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math-and-physics
A rare in-depth look at the gamma constant

I was hoping to find a book that went further into the rabbit hole of the gamma constant than most books. It pops up in many places, but why? Here, Havil goes further than I expected, and is easy to follow. He also remains entertaining while doing so.

And it is always interesting to end up with my favorite subject, the Riemann Hypothesis. My friends sometimes tease me for reading books on math and the Riemann Hypothesis (boring!), but they noticed my
Jose Moa
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
With the excuse of the gamma Euler constant,this book gives a very kind introduction to the gamma or generaliced factorial function ,to the z function and a brief introduction to de difficult subject of the analytic number theory.The book is full of striking results,and in a appendix gives a notions of complex variable,all understable with the mathematical maturity and backgrund of high school mathematics
Michael Davis
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
heavier than I expected, but I am loving it.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book, having studied and never really (at least not conciously) encountered the constant gamma. The author starts off with the history of the logarithm, the harmonic series and reaches after that the discovery of gamma. From here on, the journey continues to prime number and the Riemann assumption. The content is very technical which the author warns about right in the introduction, why I would only recommend to people having studied mathematics or at least something similar very ...more
Andrew Davis
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mathematics
We are introduced to Zeta function introduced by Euler in 1734, also known as Basel Problem. We then proceed to gamma constant and Gamma function, explored by Euler as well. In the second part of the book we move to Prime numbers and Euler's contribution to discipline of mathematics. No wonder Euler is considered as one of the best mathematicians ever.
Mark Moon
I read this on vacation earlier this year. Strikes a good balance between popular appeal and technical detail. Lots of fun.
Eric S
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a 5 on content and quality. I gave it a 4 because I didn't like it that much.
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mathematics
At the time this book came out, I was going through parts of Whittaker's famous "Modern Analysis". This book was written when mathematicians still "did" mathematics. They got their hands dirty. They didn't immediately seek full generalization. While mathematics will always possess what looks to the layman like hieroglyphic notation, the notation employed in Whittaker's book reminds us that it is to be an aid to thought, not an impediment or a pyrotechnic. This is less the case today, where ...more
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've read this book twice now. It's quite good.

Some tidbits:

p.32-33 Kempner series = Harmonic series with those terms whose denominators having a fixed digit dropped (e.g. only sum reciprocals of numbers without a '7' in them). This is bounded by geometric series, and therefore converges.

p.39 Fun proof of sum of reciprocal squares = pi^2 / 6, appropriate for calc class, once you know Taylor series for sin.

p. 44-45 \int_0^1 1/(x^x) dx = \sum_n=0^{\infy} 1/(n^n) using Taylor series for e^x and
Bill H
May 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: PeterH22
Shelves: pop-maths
Not gonna lie: I admit I skimmed over most of the mathematical detail in favor of the historical context I was really looking for. But I got enough out of it to have at least an interesting conversation or two on the Bolzano–Weierstrass theorem and Benford's Law (that's a fun one!) and some other odds and ends. Not really a general-audience publication, really, though.
Peter Flom
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: math
A look at Euler's constant from many directions. Requires a knowledge of calculus for full enjoyment
Matt Jarvis
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maths
I found this book quite difficult, but it was a very engaging read none the less and exposed me to some areas of mathematics that I have not seen before, and am now eager to explore!
Scott Morrison
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THe maths really was a bit complex for a light read, interesting, but not as good as others like it.
Jun 20, 2011 is currently reading it
so far so good although i always feel like an idiot when i get caught up on even the "simple" proofs. and this happens a lot.
Charles Eliot
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An unexpectedly wonderful romp through the wonderful world of number theory. If you've every been enthralled by numbers - even for a moment - this book will bring back that joy.
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