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Friday, December 3, 2021

# Nw: Why e, the Transcendental Math Fixed, Is Simply the Simplest ###### James Round for Quanta Magazine

Ultimate month, we supplied three puzzles that looked long-established ample but contained a numerical twist. Hidden under the surface was the mysterious transcendental quantity e. Most familiar because the putrid of pure logarithms, Euler’s quantity e is a universal constant with an infinite decimal growth that begins with 2.7 1828 1828 45 90 45… (spaces added to highlight the quasi- sample within the principle 15 digits after the decimal point). But why, in our puzzles, does it apparently seem out of nowhere?

###### Sooner than we strive to respond to this quiz, we want to learn a puny bit extra about
• e
• ‘s properties and aliases. Cherish its transcendental cousin

π , e could well well moreover merely moreover be represented in infinite programs — because the sum of infinite collection, an infinite product, a limit of infinite sequences, an amazingly typical persevered fraction, etc.

I serene be conscious my first introduction to e. We were studying general logarithms in college, and I marveled at their skill to show complicated multiplication problems into easy addition correct by representing all numbers as fractional powers of 10. How, I puzzled, were fractional and irrational powers calculated? It is, needless to claim, easy to calculate integer powers similar to 102 and 10 3, and in a pinch it’s possible you’ll probably even calculate 10

2.5 by discovering the square root of 10

5
. But how did they resolve out, because the log table asserted, that 20 was 10 1.30103

? How could well well a complete table of logarithms of all numbers be constituted of scratch? I correct couldn’t imagine how that can be done.

Later I realized regarding the magic formulation that enables this feat. It offers a ticket of the put the “pure” in “pure logarithms” got here from:

###### e x=1 + \$latex frac{x}{1 !}+frac{x^{2}}{2 ! }+frac{x^{3}}{3 !}+frac{x^{4}}{4 !}+frac{x^{5}}{5 !}+cdots\$.

For destructive powers, alternate phrases are destructive as expected:

These extremely effective formulas allow the calculation of any energy of the mysterious e for any accurate quantity, integer or fraction from destructive infinity to infinity, to any desired precision. They permit the building of a complete table of pure logarithms and, from that, general logarithms, from scratch.

The actual case of this formulation for x=1 offers this famed illustration of

e:

As well, e has many unparalleled properties, a few of which we’ll command within the solutions to our problems. However the one property that goes to the essence of e

and makes it so pure for logarithms and scenarios of exponential state and decay is that this:

\$latex frac{d}{dx}\$ex

=

## ex . This says that the tempo of alternate of e x is the identical as its price at all aspects. When x represents time, it signifies a price of state (or decay, for destructive

x

) that is the identical because the scale or quantity that has gathered up to now. There are myriad phenomena within the explicit world that halt precisely this for stretches of time, and every person is conscious of them as examples of exponential state or decay. But, utility apart, there is a component of pretty perfection and naturalness in this property of e that can truly inspire shock. It even carries a correct lesson; I engage to take into record it as a Zen-like feature that, in its quest for state, is continually in supreme stability, by no plot reaching out for extra or no longer as much as what it has earned.

A be conscious of warning: In the puzzle solutions under, we are in a position to bag into math that’s a puny bit extra developed and ambitious-looking out than is long-established for this puzzle column. Don’t worry if the equations slay your eyes glaze over; correct are trying to coach the long-established argument and suggestions. My hope is that someone can arrive away with some insight, nonetheless hazy, about how and why e appears in our puzzles. In the BBC TV collection The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski acknowledged of John von Neumann’s mathematical writing that it’s crucial when studying math to coach the tune of the conceptual argument — the equations are merely the “orchestration down within the bass.”

Now allow us to are trying to tune down how e appears in our puzzles.

Puzzle 1: Partition

Let’s engage any quantity, similar to 10. Divide it into some decision of related objects, similar to two 5s, and multiply them together: 5 × 5=25. Now, we would indulge in divided 10 into three, four, 5 or six related objects and done the identical. Here’s what occurs to our product after we halt so:

2 objects: 5 × 5=25
3 objects: 3.33 × 3.33 × 3.33=37.04
4 objects: 2.5 × 2.5 × 2.5 × 2.5=39.06
5 objects: 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2=32 6 objects: 1.67 × 1.67 × 1.67 × 1.67 × 1.67 × 1.67=21.43

That you can gaze that the product will enhance, reaches what appears to be a most and then begins cutting again. Strive doing the identical with any other numbers similar to 20 and 30. You’ll see that the identical ingredient occurs in every case. This has nothing to complete with the numbers themselves but is caused by a certain property of the quantity e.

a. Gaze whereas you happen to’ll be in a stutter to resolve out when the product reaches a most for a given quantity and what this has to complete with e.

As I discussed within the ticket for 1a, the product reaches a most when the price of each half is closest to e. To be extra correct, the two absolute top products will possible be got when the values ​​of the objects lie on either aspect of e. For the small, day after day-dimension numbers we are pondering here, the absolute top price is got for the half whose distinction from e is the smallest.

b. For the quantity 10, the ideal product (39.06) is ready 5.5% higher than the next ideal (37.04). Without calculating the explicit distinction, are you able to guess which quantity no longer as much as 100 has the smallest percentage distinction between the ideal product and the next ideal? Why ought to serene this be? From above, it’s easy to acknowledge that two products will possible be closest together when the values ​​of the two adjoining objects are practically equidistant from e, one decrease than e and the different elevated. (This is strictly appropriate top if the feature is symmetric around

e, which it’s no longer, but in this fluctuate it’s far halt ample, as Michel Nizette

explained excellently.) If the fashioned quantity is N, it could well in all probability are liable to happen when the fractional fraction of the ratio \$ latex frac{N}{e}\$ is halt to 0.5 — that is, when \$latex frac{N}{e}\$ lies halt to the midpoint between two integers. So whereas you happen to effect a table of \$latex frac{N}{e}\$ for N as much as 100 and look for the fractional fraction closest to 0.5, you’ re going to bag the foremost integer: 53. Dividing 53 by e offers 19.4976 and a distinction of top 0.0013% for the products yielded by 19 and 20 objects.

c. Are you able to point to why e arises in this interestingly easy insist?

As explained by readers Lazar Ilic, Ashok Khatri, Alan Olson, Kurt Godel, TG, Atul Kumar and Michel Nizette, the response involves some fundamental calculus — specifically, it’s far crucial to search out essentially the most of a feature by environment its by-product to zero. Our feature is (\$latex frac{n}{x}\$)
x

, and the price of each half is \$latex frac{n}{x}\$. The logarithm of the feature is

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