Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Some time ago I asked a mathematician what he considered the most beautiful equation. He offered Maxwell's four equations relating electric and magnetic fields and an explanation. I was intrigued and considered how one might convey this beauty typographically.

At the Codex Book Fair in Berkeley, yesterday (today is the last day) I was pleased to sell one of my Florilegium flowers to a gentleman who offered the above: Euler's famous equation.

Brief research has yielded this elegant description from Jerry P. King in The Art of Mathematics:

'The five most important constants in mathematics are the numbers e, i, π, 1, and 0. (There is no doubt of this; just stop any 100 mathematicians and ask them.) Moreover, the most vital relation in mathematics is the relation of “equality” and the paramount operations are addition, multiplication, and the operation called “exponentiation.” [The above equation], as you can see, contains all of these things and nothing else. The equation portrays completeness because it contains these important mathematical concepts and, morever, it contains nothing extraneous.'

I believe a new book has been conceived . . . a collection of beautiful equations.

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