this post is brought to you by the number e

The title of this post is not a typo. e is a number. Or rather, exactly like Pi, e is a letter used to represent a number. It’s a constant, an unchanging mathematical value, the base of the natural logarithm.

It’s not a very big number at all, and lies between 2 and 3. To five decimal places, e is 2.71828.

Here’s a mathy definition:

Which is to say that as the value of n approaches infinity, the value of the above expression approaches the random-seeming amount of approximately 2.71828.

e is irrational (it can’t be expressed with a fraction) and transcendental (it’s not algebraic, which is to say it is not the solution of a non-zero polynomial equation with integer coefficients).

Some happy day when I have time and mental energy, I am going to post about rational, irrational, transcendental and imaginary numbers, which so far are the mathematical concepts I most and best like to think about. I adore how all those terms signify important attributes of numbers, but do so with with lovely, literary-sounding names.

But for now, here’s e to one million places. Rock! I know you’ll be up ALL NIGHT reading this. It’s a suspenseful read, for sure:

http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=35061&pageno=6

And here‘s the Pi-Search page, where you can search a 200 million-digit decimal expansion of Pi for your birthdate, your phone number, or whatever numbers you care to find. My birthday occurs 558,580 digits from the first digit after the decimal point.

My college is having a Pi-reciting contest for Pi Day on March 14 (get it?). I’d like to get up there and start spewing out e. That’d be pretty punk rock.

DAMN I come up with some cool ideas sometimes.

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