What I Learned from Reading “Gamma: Exploring Euler’s Constant” by Julian Havil: Part 5

Check out this lovely integral, dubbed the Sophomore’s Dream, found by Johann Bernoulli in 1697 (Gamma, page 44):

\displaystyle \int_0^1 \frac{dx}{x^x} = \displaystyle \frac{1}{1^1} + \frac{1}{2^2} + \frac{1}{3^3} + \frac{1}{4^4} + \dots.

I’ll refer to either Wikipedia or Mathworld for the derivation.

green line

When I researching for my series of posts on conditional convergence, especially examples related to the constant \gamma, the reference Gamma: Exploring Euler’s Constant by Julian Havil kept popping up. Finally, I decided to splurge for the book, expecting a decent popular account of this number. After all, I’m a professional mathematician, and I took a graduate level class in analytic number theory. In short, I don’t expect to learn a whole lot when reading a popular science book other than perhaps some new pedagogical insights.

Boy, was I wrong. As I turned every page, it seemed I hit a new factoid that I had not known before.

In this series, I’d like to compile some of my favorites — while giving the book a very high recommendation.

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  1. What I Learned by Reading “Gamma: Exploring Euler’s Constant” by Julian Havil: Index | Mean Green Math

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