Portrait of the Scottish mathematician John Napier

Portrait of the Scottish mathematician John Napier

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Credit: GEORGE BERNARD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: John Napier. Portrait of the Scottish mathematician John Napier (1550-1617), the discoverer of logarithms. Napier came from a landed family and so was educated in France and at St. Andrews in Scotland. He studied mathematics as a hobby and he published his first logarithm tables in 1614, in the process of which he developed decimal notation. For the tables he chose the transendental number e (approximately 2.717) as the base. These Napierian, or natural, logarithms are most relevant to exponential systems. His logarithms greatly helped Kepler in his calculations of planetary motion. This artwork is from a book published in 1833.

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Keywords: creator, discoverer, john, logarithm tables, logarithms, mathematician, napier, portraits, slide rule, surname n

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