Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The epitome -- Euler's Identity

Mathematics is a visual language.  As with poetry, placement on the page is a key ingredient of meaning.  Here is one of my favorite visual poems, The Transcendence of Euler's Formula, by Neil Hennessey, a Canadian poet and computer scientist.  For additional math-poetry from Neil, follow the link.

          epitome
          epitome
          epitome
          epi+ome
          epItome
          _____________
          epit0me

This mathematical formula is known as Euler’s identity (or Euler’s equation) where e is the base of the natural logarithm (sometimes called Euler's number), i is the imaginary unit defined by i² = -1, and π is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  With its inclusion of five of the most important numbers of mathematics, Euler's identity is considered a mathematical object of great beauty.   Even before Hennessy's arrangement, a poem.
     The Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-83) was the most prolific mathematical writer of all times finding time (even with 13 children) to publish over 800 papers, in many different fields of mathematics and physics, in his lifetime.

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