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Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula: Cures Many Mathematical Ills Paperback – May 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Nahin includes gems from all over mathematics, ranging from engineering applications to beautiful pure-mathematical identities. Most of his topics lie just beyond the periphery of a typical mathematics course: they are facts, such as the irrationality of pi, that you may have heard of but never had explained in detail. It would be good to have more books like this."--Timothy Gowers,Nature

"Nahin's tale of the formula e[pi] i+1=0, which links five of the most important numbers in mathematics, is remarkable. With a plethora of historical and anecdotal material and a knack for linking events and facts, he gives the reader a strong sense of what drove mathematicians like Euler."--Matthew Killeya, New Scientist

"It is very difficult to sum up the greatness of Euler. . . . This excellent book goes a long way to explaining the kind of mathematician he really was."--Mathematics Today

"What a treasure of a book this is! This is the fourth enthusiastic, informative, and delightful book Paul Nahin has written about the beauties of various areas of mathematics. . . . This book is a marvelous tribute to Euler's genius and those who built upon it and would make a great present for students of mathematics, physics, and engineering and their professors. Paul Nahin's name has been added to my list of those with whom I wouldn't mind being stranded on a desert island--not only would he be informative and entertaining, but he would probably be able to rig a signaling device from sea water and materials strewn along the beach."--Henry Ricardo, MAA Reviews

"The heart and soul of the book are the final three chapters on Fourier series, Fourier integrals, and related engineering. One can recommend them to all applied math students for their historical development and sensible content."--Robert E. O'Malley, Jr., SIAM Review

"The author conducts a fascinating tour through pure and applied mathematics, physics, and engineering, from the ethereal heights of number theory to the earthiness of constructing speech scramblers. . . . [T]his is a marvelous book that will illuminate the mathematical landscape of complex numbers and their many applications."--Henry Ricardo, Mathematics Teacher

"This is a book for mathematicians who enjoy historically motivated mathematical explanations on a high mathematical level."--Eberhard Knobloch, Mathematical Reviews

"It is a 'popular' book, written for a general reader with some mathematical background equivalent to a first-year undergraduate course in the UK."--Robin Wilson, London Mathematical Society Newsletter

From the Back Cover

"If you ever wondered about the beauties and powers of mathematics, this book is a treasure trove. Paul Nahin uses Euler's formula as the magic key to unlock a wealth of surprising consequences, ranging from number theory to electronics, presented clearly, carefully, and with verve."--Peter Pesic, St. John's College

"The range and variety of topics covered here is impressive. I found many little gems that I have never seen before in books of this type. Moreover, the writing is lively and enthusiastic and the book is highly readable."--Des Higham, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New preface by the author edition (May 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691150370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691150376
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Nahin was born in California, and did all his schooling there (Brea-Olinda High 1958, Stanford BS 1962, Caltech MS 1963, and - as a Howard Hughes Staff Doctoral Fellow - UC/Irvine PhD 1972, with all degrees in electrical engineering). He worked as a digital logic designer and radar systems engineer in the Southern California aerospace industry until 1971, when he started his academic career. He has taught at Harvey Mudd College, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Universities of New Hampshire (where he is now emeritus professor of electrical engineering) and Virginia. In between and here-and-there he spent a post-doctoral year at the Naval Research Laboratory, and a summer and a year at the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Defense Analyses as a weapon systems analyst, all in Washington, DC. He has published a couple dozen short science fiction stories in ANALOG, OMNI, and TWILIGHT ZONE magazines, and has written 16 books on mathematics and physics, published by IEEE Press, Springer, and the university presses of Johns Hopkins and Princeton. His most recent book, INSIDE INTERESTING INTEGRALS, discussing numerous techniques for doing definite integrals (up through and including contour integration in the complex plane) that commonly occur in physics, engineering, and mathematics, was published by Springer in September 2014. His next book, IN PRAISE OF SIMPLE PHYSICS, on the application in everyday life situations of elementary mathematics (up to and including freshman calculus) and the fundamental physical laws, is under contract with Princeton University Press, is currently at the copyeditor, and will appear May 2016. Another book, TIME MACHINE TALES, an up-dating of the 2nd edition of TIME MACHINES (1999), is under contract at Springer (in the Fiction & Science series) and will appear in 2017. He has given invited talks on mathematics at Bowdoin College, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Tennessee, and Caltech, has appeared on National Public Radio's "Science Friday" show (discussing time travel) as well as on New Hampshire Public Radio's "The Front Porch" show (discussing imaginary numbers), and advised Boston's WGBH Public Television's "Nova" program on the script for their time travel episode. He gave the invited Sampson Lectures for 2011 in Mathematics at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine). When he isn't writing he is battling evil-doers on his PS4 and, now and then, he even wins ("Wolfenstein: The Old Blood" is my current time-waster).

FINALLY - numerous readers have written over the years asking about the solutions manual to my Springer book, THE SCIENCE OF RADIO. Springer has kindly made it available in pdf format (3 MB), and if you write to me I'll send you a copy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 92 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Shortridge on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The reviews of An Imaginary Tale capture much of what will be said of Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula. I happen to like Paul Nahin's books very much ever since reading The Science of Radio, one of my favorite books of all time. If you didn't like Imaginary, you won't like Dr. Euler's . If you like the earlier book, this one is a must.

Chapter One starts with an introduction to complex numbers. This would make nice supplemental material for an introduction to complex numbers. The chapter is not the standard treatment. It gives a very clear introduction to Gauss' proof of the construction of the regular heptadecagon . The chapter goes on to factoring complex numbers in the context of Fermat's last theorem, with a very clear discussion of Lame's proof for n=7 . Earlier in the chapter Nahin uses the Cayley-Hamilton theorem to get De Moivre's theorem in matrix form without any mention of physical rotations.

Fourier series and integrals comprise most of the book which ends with applications to single side band radio. This last topic is a nice inclusion for folks like me who liked Nahin's early book The Science of Radio. There is a story about G.H. Hardy and Arthur Schuster, that I had never seen elsewhere.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes undergraduate calculus and has some exposure to linear algebra, maybe a second or third year undergraduate. The material is idiosyncratic enough to be entertaining for anyone who has had courses in complex analysis and number theory. It is a good introduction and supplemental reading for such courses, but not as a primary text.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By David S. Mazel on August 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is a book that is a delight to read. It is well-written and the text flows marvelously between each page and around the many formulas that are so carefully presented and worked out. I rate this book as 5-stars for presenting ever more mathematics relating to complex numbers in a clear and detailed manner.

The book is, as the author notes, a continuation of his book, An Imaginary Tale, where Nahin discusses the square root of -1. (If you haven't read that book, read it first because many of the footnotes refer to it.) In this book, we see more of complex numbers and, in particular, we see many applications of Euler's Identity that "e^{i theta} = cos(theta)+ i sin(theta)." This simple looking indentity is rich in applications and explorations. Nahin takes you on a journey to these topics and does so in an easy to follow way.

There are interesting stories as you go such as the one where we find the Gibbs did not, contrary to almost all textbooks, discover what is call Gibbs Phenomena. There are other stories and anecdotes but I'll let you enjoy them on your own.

That said, I must also say that the book assumes you have a good understanding of complex numbers and are comfortable manipulating them. A solid undergraduate understanding is all that's needed and if you have done graduate work, all the better. If you're considering the book at all, and have the math background, read it.

If you don't know anything about complex numbers, well, this book may not be as good as it could be for you.
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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful By John W. Fuqua on February 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Like all of Paul Nahin's books, I really like this one.

However, as with so many books an Errata would help. Mathematical and mathematical finance books are getting so expensive, that unless authors or publishers have a URL for Errata, readers esp. of mathematical books will wait for [sometimes years] for a second corrected edition of books.

I could be wrong about these but it seems these are typos:

p. 30 lines 5 & 6 curly bracket should only be around the 2 * cos(x/2) term

p. 121 second equation should be t=(v+u)/(2*c)

p. 121 '* (1/(2*c)' missing at end of the line

p. 123 line 17, first word should be 'bother' not 'other'

p. 127 line 3 and 4, it seems that the 'icnPI/l' [not the ones in the cos() or sin() terms] term after the 'B' and before the '2*cos' respectively, should not be there. Or am I missing something ?

p. 128 4th line from bottom should be 1753 not 1733

p. 143 2nd line before last equation should be '... (x- i * y)...'

p. 144 equation under 'In summary, then...' cases are reversed

p. 216 seems 1/(2*PI) is missing from right side of first equation, i.e. from "...G(u)G(omega-u)...du"
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Aristarchus on March 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Paul Nahin's book, "Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula," is an excellent expository treatment of Euler's formula (you say, "which one?") e^i*theta = cos(theta) + i*sin(theta) and its profound, and far-reaching, ramifications. Dr. Nahin also gives an extensive informal discussion of Fourier series, Fourier transforms, the Dirac Delta Function, and what electrical engineers would call "signals and systems theory." Some mathematical purists may criticize the lack of pure rigor. However, this book is an "expository" book, not a rigorous "textbook." Ideally, I recommend that you read Dr. Nahin's book in conjunction with your standard college textbook. That way, you will get the best of both worlds. Your textbook will give you the disciplined rigor. Dr. Nahin's book will give you the "Aha... insight!" I read Dr. Nahin's book before taking a graduate level course in electrical engineering (EE) Signals and Systems. I breezed through the EE course with perfect scores on my exams, and I give a lot of credit to Dr. Nahin. When you study mathematics, you really need BOTH disciplined mathematical rigor AND intuitive insight and understanding. Beware, however, that this book has LOTS of mathematics in it. The book is loaded with serious mathematics. Don't read this book if you want something for the intelligent layperson. Read this book if you love mathematics, if you are an engineering or mathematics student, or if you like industrial-strength mathematics. Paul Nahin may single-handedly save Americans from mathematical illiteracy. He does something that the mathematical community does not do well... "market and sell" mathematics.
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