Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Named and unnamed mathematical constants: from anonymous to famous

Mathematical constants are either anonymous or famous, with fame a reflection of the constant's importance.
Julian Havil, 2012.

Along his compellingly illustrated path through the history of irrational numbers—delivering insights for mathematicians and non-mathematicians—Julian Havil introduces readers to interesting constants beyond the “famous constants” π and e [1]: the Conway Constant (also written Conway's Constant [2]), for instance, which isn't exactly famous. Neither is it anonymous, as it is named after the English mathematician John Horton Conway, who introduced and analyzed the look-and-say sequence leading to the discovery of the Conway Constant [3].

Anonymous constants may become famous. The Conway Constant and its look-and-say sequence should be of interest in the study of self-descriptive processes such as molecular self-replication; and, thus, will contribute to biomolecular modeling and advances in macromolecular chemistry and biochemistry [4].

Keywords: mathematics, special numbers, rationals, irrationals, transcendentals.

References and more to explore
[1] Julian Havil: The Irrationals. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, California, 2012; pages 136 and 137.
[2] Wolfram MathWorld: Conway's Constant [mathworld.wolfram.com/ConwaysConstant.html].
[3] John H. Conway: The Weird and Wonderful Chemistry of Audioactive Decay. Eureka 1986, 46, pp. 5-18 (see TOC on www.archim.org.uk/archives/eureka/#46).
by Óscar Martín
[4] Óscar Martín: Look-and-say biochemistry: Exponential RNA and Multistranded DNA. American Mathematical Monthly 2006, 113(4), pp. 289-307 [www.maa.org/publications/periodicals/american-mathematical-monthly/american-mathematical-monthly-april-2006].
Óscar Martín
by Ó Óscar Martín

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