• A Most Elegant Equation

  • Euler’s Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics
  • By: David Stipp
  • Narrated by: Sean Pratt
  • Length: 5 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (292 ratings)

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A Most Elegant Equation  By  cover art

A Most Elegant Equation

By: David Stipp
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
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Publisher's summary

Bertrand Russell wrote that mathematics can exalt "as surely as poetry". This is especially true of one equation: ei(pi) + 1 = 0, the brainchild of Leonhard Euler, the Mozart of mathematics. More than two centuries after Euler's death, it is still regarded as a conceptual diamond of unsurpassed beauty. Called Euler's identity, or God's equation, it includes just five numbers but represents an astonishing revelation of hidden connections. It ties together everything from basic arithmetic to compound interest, the circumference of a circle, trigonometry, calculus, and even infinity. In David Stipp's hands, Euler's identity becomes a contemplative stroll through the glories of mathematics. The result is an ode to this magical field.

©2017 David Stipp (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about A Most Elegant Equation

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    3 out of 5 stars

Good treatment of the subject

Overall a good journey through Euler's formula, with nice side trips through intriging relevant stories that were integral to Euler's great, beautiful equation. However, the author, who is a writer who once majored in math, epresses his sometimes fleeting grasp on the subject with the literary awkwardness. He has a journalist's understanding of mathematics, and the journalistic skill of a mathematician.

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25 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great math book to listen to

Not all math books translate well to audio but in this case it was a really enjoyable listen.
Writing and narration were quite good and the math was approachable even in this format.
The only thing missing is a pdf of the formulas and images from the last few chapters where I found myself wanting to work along with the author. This is not recommended while driving ;) but I may just re-listen to that section with a pad of paper so I can scratch out the ideas on paper

Great book!

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20 people found this helpful

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Helped me stay in a conversation with a Quant

I was super impressed with this fun and engaging book. I'm prepping for the GRE, again. And while I'm taking an online trig course, I wanted something mathematical to add to my morning commutes. I listened to several chapters several times because the content can be difficult to follow for a non-math person like myself. But I surprised myself how much I learned when I found out one of my colleagues has a Masters in Mathematics and we talked about Euler, Euler's formula and the history of mathematics as well as distinctions in Algebra, Trig, etc.
I like the writing style. It's flippant and a little sarcastic. It's a very specific form of humor that fits the topic well.

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12 people found this helpful

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Good and Simple

I really liked the math history, and a refreshing view on a beloved equation. however the math explanations are too elementary for anyone with some University mathematics, which can make some demonstrations too lengthy or boring. I still liked it though, and would recommend it to anyone with interest in math, but not quite a profound understanding

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11 people found this helpful

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way too simplistic if you know math

the elementary level of math the author assumes in the listener starts to get annoying by the 3rd chapter and never lets up. great for a zero math person though. should have said "for english majors" on the cover.

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A good introduction to Euler but could have been more focused and less disjointed

What I liked about this book was its introduction to Leonhard Euler and his contributions to mathematics. I also learned about the beauty of pi and transcendent numbers.

The style was very accessible although the book has diagrams that couldn’t be presented in an audiobook. If I had followed along with the book in hand I could have followed the chapters on trigonometry and geometry better.

The narrator was very good.

What bothers me about this book is the author wrote that Euler’s Formula was also known as God’s equation yet didn’t elaborate on Euler’s Christian worldview. Euler’s faith was integral to his work in mathematics. The author glossed over this with the comment that Euler was pious and a Protestant. But why call Euler’s Formula God’s Formula without a discussion about Euler’s faith and how it informed his work? I think the fact that Euler was a Christian during the Enlightenment, a period of Deism and secular humanism, explains why he’s not held in as high regard as say Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire.

The author started out with helpful metaphors but after awhile they became distracting and not relevant to presenting the material.

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This does not work as an audible book. Needs PDF

There are pages and pages of equations the author goes over which would be OK if there was a PDF to look at but just as a spoken line it is gibberish. I suspect it is ploy to get you to buy the book also but really it is not worth it. You can get most of the same information on Google.

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7 people found this helpful

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A good primer spoilt by Author.

When discussing the formula, and not indulging in the author's political progressive preening, a short and interesting introduction to the key Math's equation of Euler's. The book provides context into its place in maths and the wider world, as well as providing a historical bio of Mr. Euler.

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6 people found this helpful

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missing PDF's!

Amazing book, truly a great story. Euler was a truly astonishing person, needs a PDF!

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5 people found this helpful

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Audible Math Wasn't Too Bad

Maybe it's just me, but I found it pretty easy to follow the math while just listening. Overall an interesting read.

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  • Dale Linney
  • 04-12-20

Very good.

Lovely exposition of the formula, its history and some of its uses. The author argues for the transcendent beauty of mathematics, but does not trust the audience to share in his wonder, and so couches some deep insights in silly narratives to make them relevant to the layman. The people reading and listening are likely looking for wonder, he should trust them to appreciate it. Its another example of mathematicians feeling apologetic for their passion. Overall though, he is clear and reveals some of the formula's deep connections.

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  • Teresa
  • 07-13-21

I enjoyed this book so much!

Sometimes you need all the focus to draw the formulae in your head. Great narration too.

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  • Moby Motion
  • 07-20-19

A great audio adaptation

When I first considered buying this book, I was worried that maths might be a difficult topic to translate into an audio book. As it turns out, it was light on formulas and all very well explained. I would recommend a pen and paper for the latter chapters that delve into infinite series', to ensure you can grasp how they all relate to each other.

Nonetheless, it does justice to important mathematical finding while making sure to stay entertaining at the same time.

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  • JayD
  • 01-01-21

A subtle and engaging overview

Stipp’s approach to a difficult concept is well-structured, delivered in a manner that gradually reveals the genius of Euler’s equation. It is a book for non-mathematicians with a casual interest in advanced mathematics, however, and in this I think it is quite successful.
The audiobook version (despite the clear, personable narration) needs some form of supporting material to be truly effective. The printed book clearly has diagrams and other visual aids to help with especially difficult concepts yet these have not been provided (as a PDF or web address). Without these, the equations can be off-putting and hamper the overall experience.

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  • Mick
  • 07-16-20

Enjoyable journey illustrating the beauty of Math

As an undergraduate studying advanced mathematics, I have a deep passion for all things math. That said, you do not need to be an avid math enthusiast to enjoy this book. A little curiosity is all you need to be swept up by what is essentially a gentle introduction to the beauty and elegance of mathematics.

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  • David Sapsford
  • 04-27-18

Entertaining

Facinating narative and well constructed story; well read and the mathematics was easy to visualise.

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