- Series: Princeton Science Library
- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; Princeton Science Library edition (February 8, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691141347
- ISBN-13: 978-0691141343
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 122 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #825,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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e: The Story of a Number (Princeton Science Library) Princeton Science Library Edition
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Until about 1975, logarithms were every scientist's best friend. They were the basis of the slide rule that was the totemic wand of the trade, listed in huge books consulted in every library. Then hand-held calculators arrived, and within a few years slide rules were museum pieces.
But e remains, the center of the natural logarithmic function and of calculus. Eli Maor's book is the only more or less popular account of the history of this universal constant. Maor gives human faces to fundamental mathematics, as in his fantasia of a meeting between Johann Bernoulli and J.S. Bach. e: The Story of a Number would be an excellent choice for a high school or college student of trigonometry or calculus. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Everyone whose mathematical education has gone beyond elementary school is familiar with the number known as pi. Far fewer have been introduced to e, a number that is of equal importance in theoretical mathematics. Maor (mathematics, Northeastern Illinois Univ.) tries to fill this gap with this excellent book. He traces the history of mathematics from the 16th century to the present through the intriguing properties of this number. Maor says that his book is aimed at the reader with a "modest" mathematical background. Be warned that his definition of modest may not be yours. The text introduces and discusses logarithms, limits, calculus, differential equations, and even the theory of functions of complex variables. Not easy stuff! Nevertheless, the writing is clear and the material fascinating. Highly recommended.
- Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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As for the content, once I learned to read gibberish, I found the math interesting and the story delightful for amateur mathematicians. Many forgotten facts returned and even a few new connections were made, such as the sinh and cosh relation to the imaginary circular functions. I recommend reading this in print format and not as an e-book. The chapter on Euler rocks!
As the title implies, the book catalogs the development of the number "e", the base of the natural logarithm. For me, a college math major, the nature and origin of this mysterious number were quite hazy. Born in the era of electronic calculators, I could not fathom the utility of logarithm tables and slide rules, which dominated the anxieties of science and math students for centuries before my time. This book allowed me to feel the pain of those ghostly legions who wrestled with these tools, albeit in a pleasantly blunted way!
Some reviewers have opined that the book gets off subject a lot, but I did not find this to be the case. All the subjects covered were necessary chapters in the development of "e" and the science of logarithmic functions. The book is full of historical detail and anecdotes, in the style of Men of Mathematics, or Aubrey's Lives, but offers more technical grit than those books, like the Dunham books. In particular, information about Napier and the Bernoullis was all really new to me. The development of calculus, on the other hand, has been done to death, and is probably more of interest to high schoolers.
In any event, the book is relatively short, so if the format does not appeal to you, you will not have wasted too much time on it, and I bet you will have learned at least something. I think this book would be a fantastic adjuct to the high school calculus course.
I haven't seen the printed version but if it is of good printing quality, I would recommend it to anybody interested in the history of mathematics and the peculiarities of transcendental numbers. Now the reading experience was shadowed by my trying to understand what the misprinted equations really mean.