Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mathematical Constants III

Word Cloud: e Euler number
from gogeometry

I will never forget my first encounter with the constant e. It was my first week of university. I was trying to complete the first of many Maths tutorials. I came accross this funny symbol: ln(...)

Since I couldn't find an explanation of what "ln" meant in my 700 page textbook (which was otherwise excellent, by the way), I went to my tutor. Our dialogue went something like this:

Me: What does ln (pronounced lin) mean?
Tutor: You don't know what lin means?
Me: That's right, I'm asking what ln means.
Tutor: Ln is the natural logarithm.
Me: Okay...
Tutor: It's just a logarithm with base e.
Me: What's e?
Tutor: It's a constant that forms the base of  the natural logarithm.
Me: But you said that the natural logarithm was a log with base e.
Tutor: Yes.
Me: And you defined e as the base of the natural logarithm.
Tutor: Yes.

Needless to say, this dialogue continued around in circles for about ten minutes before we both gave up in disgust. Even though I learned how to use ln and e, they have remained largely mysterious to me.

It's gonna take a few posts...but I plan to correct that! Join me on my mission...

And just to lighten up your day (and its ALMOST on topic):


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