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Portal:Mathematics

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Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

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Exp derivative at 0.svg
e is the unique number such that the slope of y=ex (blue curve) is exactly 1 when x=0 (illustrated by the red tangent line). For comparison, the curves y=2x (dotted curve) and y=4x (dashed curve) are shown.
Image credit: Dick Lyon

The mathematical constant e is occasionally called Euler's number after the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, or Napier's constant in honor of the Scottish mathematician John Napier who introduced logarithms. It is one of the most important numbers in mathematics, alongside the additive and multiplicative identities 0 and 1, the imaginary unit i, and π, the circumference to diameter ratio for any circle. It has a number of equivalent definitions. One is given in the caption of the image to the right, and three more are:

  1. The sum of the infinite series
    where n! is the factorial of n, and 0! is defined to be 1 by convention.
  2. The global maximizer of the function
  3. The limit:

The number e is also the base of the natural logarithm. Since e is transcendental, and therefore irrational, its value can not be given exactly. The numerical value of e truncated to 20 decimal places is 2.71828 18284 59045 23536.

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low-resolution ASCII-art depiction of the Mandelbrot set
Credit: Elphaba

This is a modern reproduction of the first published image of the Mandelbrot set, which appeared in 1978 in a technical paper on Kleinian groups by Robert W. Brooks and Peter Matelski. The Mandelbrot set consists of the points c in the complex plane that generate a bounded sequence of values when the recursive relation zn+1 = zn2 + c is repeatedly applied starting with z0 = 0. The boundary of the set is a highly complicated fractal, revealing ever finer detail at increasing magnifications. The boundary also incorporates smaller near-copies of the overall shape, a phenomenon known as quasi-self-similarity. The ASCII-art depiction seen in this image only hints at the complexity of the boundary of the set. Advances in computing power and computer graphics in the 1980s resulted in the publication of high-resolution color images of the set (in which the colors of points outside the set reflect how quickly the corresponding sequences of complex numbers diverge), and made the Mandelbrot set widely known by the general public. Named by mathematicians Adrien Douady and John H. Hubbard in honor of Benoit Mandelbrot, one of the first mathematicians to study the set in detail, the Mandelbrot set is closely related to the Julia set, which was studied by Gaston Julia beginning in the 1910s.

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General Foundations Number theory Discrete mathematics
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Index of mathematics articles

ARTICLE INDEX: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z (0–9)
MATHEMATICIANS: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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