- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (27 February 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691141347
- ISBN-13: 978-0691141343
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,55,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
"e" – The Story of a Number (Princeton Science Library) Paperback – Import, 27 Feb 2009
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Honorable Mention for the 1994 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Mathematics, Association of American Publishers "This is a gently paced, elegantly composed book, and it will bring its readers much pleasure... Maor has written an excellent book that should be in every public and school library."--Ian Stewart, New Scientist "Maor wonderfully tells the story of e. The chronological history allows excursions into the lives of people involved with the development of this fascinating number. Maor hangs his story on a string of people stretching from Archimedes to David Hilbert. And by presenting mathematics in terms of the humans who produced it, he places the subject where it belongs--squarely in the centre of the humanities."--Jerry P. King, Nature "Maor has succeeded in writing a short, readable mathematical story. He has interspersed a variety of anecdotes, excursions, and essays to lighten the flow... [The book] is like the voyages of Columbus as told by the first mate."--Peter Borwein, Science "Maor attempts to give the irrational number e its rightful standing alongside pi as a fundamental constant in science and nature; he succeeds very well... Maor writes so that both mathematical newcomers and long-time professionals alike can thoroughly enjoy his book, learn something new, and witness the ubiquity of mathematical ideas in Western culture."--Choice "It can be recommended to readers who want to learn about mathematics and its history, who want to be inspired and who want to understand important mathematical ideas more deeply."--EMS Newsletter
About the Author
Eli Maor is the author of "Venus in Transit", "Trigonometric Delights", "To Infinity and Beyond", and "The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-Year History" (all Princeton). He teaches the history of mathematics at Loyola University in Chicago and at the Graham School of General Education at the University of Chicago.
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Top customer reviews
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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.