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Princeton University Press, 2003 - Mathematics - 266 pages
21 Reviews

Among the myriad of constants that appear in mathematics, p, e, and i are the most familiar. Following closely behind is g, or gamma, a constant that arises in many mathematical areas yet maintains a profound sense of mystery.

In a tantalizing blend of history and mathematics, Julian Havil takes the reader on a journey through logarithms and the harmonic series, the two defining elements of gamma, toward the first account of gamma's place in mathematics.

Introduced by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), who figures prominently in this book, gamma is defined as the limit of the sum of 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + . . . up to 1/n, minus the natural logarithm of n--the numerical value being 0.5772156. . .. But unlike its more celebrated colleagues p and e, the exact nature of gamma remains a mystery--we don't even know if gamma can be expressed as a fraction.

Among the numerous topics that arise during this historical odyssey into fundamental mathematical ideas are the Prime Number Theorem and the most important open problem in mathematics today--the Riemann Hypothesis (though no proof of either is offered!).

Sure to be popular with not only students and instructors but all math aficionados, Gamma takes us through countries, centuries, lives, and works, unfolding along the way the stories of some remarkable mathematics from some remarkable mathematicians.

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Review: Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant

User Review  - Douglas - Goodreads

At the time this book came out, I was going through parts of Whittaker's famous "Modern Analysis". This book was written when mathematicians still "did" mathematics. They got their hands dirty. They ... Read full review

Review: Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant

User Review  - Matt Jarvis - Goodreads

I found this book quite difficult, but it was a very engaging read none the less and exposed me to some areas of mathematics that I have not seen before, and am now eager to explore! Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Julian Havil is a retired former master at Winchester College, England, where he taught mathematics for thirty-three years. In addition to "Nonplussed!," he is the author of "Gamma: Exploring Euler s Constant" (both Princeton).

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