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e: The Story of a Number af Eli Maor
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e: The Story of a Number (original 1994; udgave 1998)

af Eli Maor (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
8371019,216 (3.66)2
The interest earned on a bank account, the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and the shape of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are all intimately connected with the mysterious number e. In this informal and engaging history, Eli Maor portrays the curious characters and the elegant mathematics that lie behind the number. Designed for a reader with only a modest mathematical background, this biography brings out the central importance of e to mathematics and illuminates a golden era in the age of science.… (mere)
Medlem:KentPlaceMath
Titel:e: The Story of a Number
Forfattere:Eli Maor (Forfatter)
Info:Princeton University Press (1998), Edition: 1, 248 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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e: The Story of a Number af Eli Maor (1994)

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I started this book many years ago, and got about half way in, and realized that I was struggling to understand the math concepts. This led me to reviewing my college algebra, something that I still have on my project list - a long term project list as it turns out. I am culling this from my current reading list for now. ( )
  quinton.baran | Mar 29, 2021 |
Too. Much. Calculus. I was hoping this would be more like [b:The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number|24081|The Golden Ratio The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number|Mario Livio|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1428317462s/24081.jpg|1787138], 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. ( )
  Jennifer708 | Mar 21, 2020 |
This book has been very satisfying for me to read so far since I have enough background to understand the math fairly easily, but at the same time the topics are unfamiliar to me.

Detailed Review:

Preface: The author explains his interest in e, identifies himself as a person born long enough ago that he had to make practical use of log tables, and as someone born in Israel.

1. John Napier, 1614
Napier's log tables take over the world! This was a lot history and the math didn't make sense to me. I didn't dig in very deeply, because Napier's logs are now obsolete. They were a revolution, though. There is a basic explanation of the general idea of doing multiplication with logarithms. Then follows a discussion of the fact that in Napier's day fractional exponents were unknown and unused and so his choice of base was dictated by this problem: that the powers must change rather slowly wrt. to their integer exponents so that the number must be close to 1 and also the extreme difficulty of manual computation. This makes me think of Babbage, eager to solve the problem of the construction of log tables. Euler's definitions of logarithms, which is not the same as Napier's, is now the canonical one.

2. Recognition
Logarithms are loved and the slide rule and its many cousins are invented, used, and made obsolete by the hand held calculator.

* Computing with Logarithms
A worked example of computation using log tables.

3. Financial Matters
e = the value you would get in a year if you invested a dollar at 100% interested compounded continually = (1 + 1/n)^n.

4. To the Limit: If it Exists
We have problems figuring out the limit, and must do close analysis, if two values tend in the opposite direction. These are the so called "indeterminate forms". We can expand (1 + 1/n)^n using the binomial theorem (Maor does not derive the binomial theorem). It is expanded to 1 + n * 1/n + n (n - 1)/2! * (1/n)^2 + n(n - 1)(n-2)/3! * (1/n)^3 + ... + (1/n)^n. This can be simplified to 1 + n * 1/n + (1 - 1/n)/2! + (1 - 1/n)(1-2/n)/3! + ... + 1/n^n. We want the limit as n approaches inf. That's 1/0! + 1/1! + 1/2! + .... Note how we ignore the last term in the previous expression because n is going to infinity and so there is no last term. This is a good way to compute e because it converges very fast.

* Some Curious Numbers Related to e
A grab bag. Maybe I'll go back to them later.

5. Forefathers of the Calculus
Squaring the circle in Egypt. A circle of diameter d has the same area as a square of side 8/9d. Run the numbers and pi is 256/81, which isn't too bad an approximation. Archimedes pursues the method of exhaustion. The Greeks were a little hindered by their strong inclination toward geometry rather than algebra. They had no x, and they specified line segments via their endpoints. The Greeks did not like the concept of infinity and Archimedes avoided it. The method of exhaustion had an ad-hoc quality to it, it required ingenuity.

6. Prelude to Breakthrough
In the 1500s Francois Viete wrote down an infinite product. Others followed suit and in the 1600 James Gregory wrote down an interesting infinite series. Kepler works with indivisibles, sometimes for practical purposes as in his "New Solid Geometry of Wine Barrels".

* Indivisibles at Work
A discussion of finding the area under the graph of the function f(x) = x^2 from 0 to a by means of the method of indivisibles. Chop the x axis into equal lengths of infinite smallness, d. Intervals are d, 2d, 3d, etc. f(d) = d^2, f(2d) = (2d)^2, etc. Therefore, area is d[d^2 + (2d)^2 + ... + (nd)^2]. But this can be simplified by taking out d, so we get d^3[1 + 2^2 + ... _ n^2]. But there's a formula for the sum of a sequence of squares, so this is: (1 + 1/n)(2 + 1/n)(nd)^3/6. But nd = a, so (1 + 1/n)(2 + 1/n)a^3/6. Now there is no indeterminacy, so as n goes to infinity we get 1*2*a^3/6 = a^3/6. This is obviously correct by the calculus, but we need to know how to find the sum of this series of squares, so it wasn't exactly automatic.
1 stem themulhern | Nov 17, 2018 |
Reading this book had me wondering about the mystical properties of numbers, whether there was some elemental truth I could discover. Overall, the book was an enjoyable and illuminating examination of e, and a solid retelling of e's importance in the development of trigonometry. ( )
1 stem James.Igoe | Jul 26, 2017 |
I doubt this book appeals to readers with 'modest background in mathematics' as the cover promises. 'e' is the base of the natural logarithm. I vaguely recalled that e was the only number that was its own derivative. This book is at its best describing the discovery of 'e', and its historical import.

As a non-mathematician I had to skip the most complicated moments, but still appreciated the overall story. ( )
  kcshankd | Jan 18, 2016 |
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The interest earned on a bank account, the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and the shape of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are all intimately connected with the mysterious number e. In this informal and engaging history, Eli Maor portrays the curious characters and the elegant mathematics that lie behind the number. Designed for a reader with only a modest mathematical background, this biography brings out the central importance of e to mathematics and illuminates a golden era in the age of science.

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