e by Eli Maor


The story of [pi] has been told many times, both in scholarly works and in popular books. But its close relative, the number e, has fared less well: despite the central role it plays in mathematics, its history has never before been written for a general audience. The present work fills this gap. Geared to the reader with only a modest background in mathematics, the book describes the story of e from a human as well as a mathematical perspective....

Details e

Release DateMay 24th, 1998
PublisherPrinceton University Press
GenreScience, Mathematics, Nonfiction, History

Reviews e

  • Sanjay Gautam
    In the first 100 pages itself the book has made me feel flabbergasted. I was expecting it to be only about the number 'e' but to my surprise it was all about how calculus came into existence and trust me you will be surprised how insightful it was. And from here he develops insights about the number 'e', which is I am still going through.
  • Tara
    e: The Story of a Number certainly lives up to its title!The book begins with an introduction to logarithms, highlighting the relationship between the arithmetic and geometric progressions contained therein. Then we learn how the enigmatic number e was already slyly peeking out at us, way back in the day, in the realm of compound interest. Next we have a fairly decent discussion of limits and infinity. Then, after some binomial formula gymnastics...
  • Katia N
    Eli Maor wrote quite a few books about the history of Mathematics. They are wonderful in combining interesting historical insights with the maths per se, but on the level of a school program. I loved his "Infinity" book. This is as well extremely erudite and fascinating. e - is irrational number which is the basis of the natural logarithm. Sounds daunting, but one can think of this number as a basis for measuring rate of change in many processes ...
  • Bill Ward
    Everyone knows about π, the ratio 3.14159... the universal constant governing circles. The constant e is just as important if not more so, but never managed to break its way into popular culture because it's a little hard to understand just what makes it so special. This book makes a valiant effort to redress that shortcoming, by explaining the history of logarithms and calculus and how the last 400 years of mathematics developed, empowered larg...
  • Andy
    One hundred and thirty pages into Eli Maor’s history of Euler’s number (e), Maor experiences what can only be described as a "John Nash moment". Here he departs from his straight-laced account to describe, at length, an imagined conversation between J. S. Bach and Johann Bernoulli.Bernoulli: That perfectly fits my love for orderly sequences of numbers.Bach: But there is a problem. A scale constructed from these ratios consists of three basic ...
  • Jeffrey
    OK, so books on math, not going to become national best sellers by any stretch of the imagination. But any story in the field of math be it zero, 'e,' Phi, PI tells us more about that mystical, insightful language that can tell us so much about the why's and what's of our surroundings, as well as provide the more practical to suit our human needs. Math is interesting in the sense that it dictates to the mathematician not the mathematician to it t...
  • Ben Pace
    Enjoyable skim through the basics of logarithms, conic sections, calculus, and various other areas of mathematics relating to e. Not a textbook, so don't read this to learn those subjects, only to glance at them. The historical aspects add a narrative element, and of course the writing is far more pleasant than a textbook too. The background given, and also the original explanations, helped me to understand some of the concepts better, so I am gl...
  • andrew y
    As said by others - picked this up wanting to understand a complex mathematical topic, got this and also an awesome historical overview of the development of the calculus and more over hundreds of years. Awesome!
  • Jennifer
    Too. Much. Calculus. I was hoping this would be more like The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number, 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...
  • Tim
    Maor's account of the place of e, the base of the natural logarithms, in the history of mathematics provides a peek inside a mathematician's brain. More connected by mathematical ideas than by chronology or the usual social, cultural, economic, or political themes taken up by historians, Maor's book opened vistas in the calculus I did not see when I first ploddingly confronted derivatives and integrals some decades ago. He thoroughly covers the d...
  • melydia
    Like its more famous cousin pi, e is an irrational number that shows up in unexpected places all over mathematics. It also has a much more recent history, not appearing on the scene until the 16th century. My favorite parts of this book were the historical anecdotes such as the competitive Bernoullis and the Nerwton-Leibniz cross-Channel calculus feud. Unfortunately, this math history text is much heavier on the math than the history, including d...
  • Aakash Subhankar Bhowmick
    The book takes you through an amazing journey of time in which you will be fascinated and humbled by the efforts which mathematician have put in to develop mathematics as it is today. The book is perfect to arouse interest in mathematics in your children, and to make them realize that more than its regular textbook form, mathematics is fun, inspiring and beautiful.
  • Ari
    I found this basically unreadable. It oscillated too quickly between "history" and "refresher of AP calculus" and lacked any real unifying themes. It felt very rambly. The author has a lot of facts more or less related to logarithms, or exponentials, or infinite series, and wants to share them all.
  • Dan
    Maor did not do a good job at staying remotely on-topic. This would be better advertised as a history of calculus, as more time was devoted to that than to e. While the historical content of the book is certainly fascinating, it is not what I signed up for when I started reading.
  • David
    Absolutely brilliant. Among my favorite books. It has everything---from the infamous Newton/Leibniz controversy and the first derivation of Euler's constant from compound-interest calculations to the rectification of the logarithmic spiral and the Cauchy-Riemann equations for (complex) analytic functions. The appendix alone is nearly worth the price of the book. A true gem. Riveting and well written. Essential reading.
  • Daniel
    Interesting enough. Best thing about the book IMO is the appendix that offers proofs for the existence of the number in its earliest form (i.e., limit of (1+1/n)^n). I always find the typical discussions of e or of that limit to be circular, so it's nice to have a from-scratch defense of the number!
  • Brandon Meredith
    I read about half this book and then put it down. It had some somewhat interesting stuff near the beginning but then started treading over some territory I’ve seen time and again, much of it only tangentially related to the title.
  • Dani Ollé
    Great history book of mathematics which explains also the mathematical concepts themselves
  • Annette
    I enjoyed the writing and the connections between mathematical topics. I was not as interested in following the many derivations/proofs.
  • Aleksandra Taranov
    The writing style was sometimes a little dry, but I found the actual material fun and interesting. I liked the balance between historical anecdotes and mathematical formulas.
  • Mugizi Rwebangira
    It's actually pretty good.e is not as boring as people think.
  • Andrew
    For the average layperson, the number e is something they may vaguely remember from an intermediate high school math class, but certainly isn’t something that is as familiar to them as π. For many of those people, the math in this book might be a bit intimidating. If it discourages them from picking up this book, that would be unfortunate, because the author does a pretty good job of explaining the history of the math that involves the use of ...
  • Maurizio Codogno
    Il pi greco lo conoscono tutti o quasi; ma non è il solo numero "molto interessante" per i matematici. Secondo a ben poca distanza c'è infatti il numero e, che vale circa 2,718 e appare anch'esso nei punti più diversi della matematica; dal calcolo dell'area sotto un'iperbole a quello degli interessi composti, dai logaritmi alle funzioni trigonometriche. Nella sua bella collana a basso prezzo che recupera varie opere di storia della matematica,...
  • Maurizio Codogno
    Il pi greco lo conoscono tutti o quasi; ma non è il solo numero "molto interessante" per i matematici. Secondo a ben poca distanza c'è infatti il numero e, che vale circa 2,718 e appare anch'esso nei punti più diversi della matematica; dal calcolo dell'area sotto un'iperbole a quello degli interessi composti, dai logaritmi alle funzioni trigonometriche. Nella sua bella collana a basso prezzo che recupera varie opere di storia della matematica,...
  • Moctar Bebaha
    This books is certainly one of the best books on the history of Math, Mathematicians, and numbers. Although from the title of the book it seems that the book only concerns exponentials and logarithms, the fact is the author takes you from the first attempts of humans to understand numbers and their nature, to the discovery of irrational numbers and, later on, to transcendental numbers, the creation of imaginary numbers and the struggle to "make p...
  • Dan Cohen
    A good book from Eli Maor. Nearly rated 4 stars but I'm a bit of a meanie. The book is a nice mixture of history / biography and mathematics. Rather more actual mathematics than is usual for this type of book but it's well presented and, of course, the reader can skip the bits of maths wherever s/he gets bored of them (I did, quite a lot!) The author writes really well and the text is a joy to read.For my part I would have liked more of the histo...
  • Dan Cohen
    This book surprised me a bit by being more of an actual maths book (ie. not just a maths history / popularisation book) than I expected. Having said that, it stayed mainly on the right side of the line for me and I could skate over it without much impact in those places where the maths got a bit more technical than I wanted to bother with. And it was good to be reminded what actual maths is about in a way that wasn't too disconcerting. The maths ...
  • Braden Weber
    I would've liked this book much more if it actually fulfilled its claims. "Designed for a reader with only a modest background in mathematics.""This biography of e brings out that number's central importance in mathematics"Neither seemed to apply to the book I was reading. It was as challenging as any math book I've ever read, and the tangents -- either I'm too stupid to understand how the tangents tie into e, or they actually don't tie into e. N...
  • Vernon
    I recently gave a speech in my Toastmasters club titled "The Power of e." I have always had a little place in my heart for this irrational, transcendental number. This speech gave me the chance to talk about the origins of e and where we can find evidence of it in our lives. After the speech, one of the club members told me about this book. I checked it out and really quite enjoyed reading it.It is not a really light read, but it is easy enough f...
  • Brent Neal
    Maor's treatise on the history of the Naperian base is an simple, interesting read beginning with a short biography of Napier himself. As is customary with any history of science or math of that time, Maor provides the reader with an obligatory look into the infamous conflict between Newton and Leibniz. While the history itself was not terribly new to me, my attention and delight was found in Maor's very instructive sidebars demonstrating applica...