E (mathematical constant)
The constant (occasionally called Euler's number or Napier's constant in honor of the Scottish mathematician John Napier who introduced logarithms) is the base of the natural logarithm. It is approximately equal to
- e = 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 02874 ...
The number e is relevant because one can show that the exponential function exp(x) can be written as ; the exponential function is important because it is, up to multiplication by a scalar, the unique function which is its own derivative and is hence commonly used to model growth or decay processes.
The number e is known to be irrational and even transcendental. It was the first number to be proved transcendental without having been specifically constructed; the proof was given by Charles Hermite in 1873. It is conjectured to be normal. It features (along with a few other fundamental constants) in Euler's identity:
The infinite continued fraction expansion of contains an interesting pattern that can be written as follows: