On the beauty of equations

It's not often that you see a newspaper article about mathematicians but the Swiss embassy is doing stuff around Euler's 300th birthday. So, of course the Washington Post would notice ...

The statement in the article about a poll of mathematicians (math enthusiasts?) that named ei(pi) + 1 = 0 the "most beautiful equation" caught me by surprise.

I much prefer the more general form: ei theta = cos(theta) + i . sin(theta) because it neatly ties together geometry and calculus

So why is the simpler form considered so beautiful? Apparently because it contains five significant numbers: e, pi, i, 0 and 1 and three significant operations: addition, multiplication and exponentiation.

Looks like my view of beauty is closely tied to function. The majority of people polled seems to have plumped for sheer quantity.

1 comment:

  1. At first glance, I didn't get what you were trying to say, a second glance and I got it. For some reason, the generic equation (with variable sans values) is more aesthetically pleasing to the mathematical sense, but alas, in an irrational world [:D], we tend to associate specific values to most things in life, mathematical equations are no exceptions. :D
    But again, what's math without constants? All's fair in math and life. :)