Review of A Most Elegant Equation by David Stipp

Mathematics textbooks call it Euler’s formula. But some people feel that that name is too mundane for what is arguably math’s most magnetic truth, as well as one of its most startling, and so they all it God’s Equation

What is the book about?

A Most Elegant Equation: Euler’s Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics  is written by David Stipp.

This book explores the history of this equation as well as the beauty of mathematics. This is a book for us to sit back and enjoy the brilliance behind this profundity which might have escaped us when we were in school.

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What does this book cover?

A Most Elegant Equation has eleven chapters.

The book starts of by giving us a look at Euler. Then it breaks down the component parts of Euler’s equation – e, i, pi and 1 and 0. We then come back to see more of Euler followed by the impact of the equation on Mathematics. There are a couple of appendices which deal with the original derivation of the equation as well as the “real” nature of i.

What did I like?

A Most Elegant Equation is well written and will continuously involve the reader.

I liked the sections about the history of Mathematics as well as glimpses into the lives of famous mathematicians. Euler’s humble demeanor in contrast to his fellow greats like Newton, Gauss or Archimedes adds to his greatness. In addition, the fact that Euler’s was responsible for 25% of the Mathematics output during the Enlightenment is mind-boggling.

What did I not like?

While  the book was good when talking about the history of math, it faltered when it came down to explanations. I am pretty good at maths myself and I found my eyes glazing over at times. I think readers who are not that familiar with math or those that suffer from math-phobia will find this book to be a hard read.

My Recommendation

I recommend this book. While this book has its pluses and minuses, on the whole, I think this is a book worth reading – especially if you zoned out during school and want to understand the meaning behind core concepts. This will take some effort from you though.

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Also published on Medium.