John Napier, Scottish mathematician

John Napier, Scottish mathematician

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Caricature of the Scottish mathematician and inventor of logarithms John Napier (1550- 1617). Napier pursued 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 transcendental 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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