Engraving of John Napier

Engraving of John Napier

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Portrait after an engraving of John Napier (1550- 1617), Scottish mathematician and inventor of logarithms. Napier came from a landed family, so was educated in France and at St.Andrews. He persued mathematics as a hobby, being more interested in religious controversy. In his long study of imaginary roots he developed decimal notation in addition to a set of logarithms. For this he chose the transendental number e (approximately 2.717) as the base. These are known as Naperian, or natural, logarithms and are most relevant to exponential systems. His logarithms greatly helped Kepler in his calculations of planetary motion.

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Keywords: inventor, john, logarithms, mathematician, napier, portraits, surname n

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