EDUCATION: Constant Companion

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Science  27 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5590, pp. 2175
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5590.2175a

Mathematical constants—numbers such as π and e—are more than just strings of digits. They “characterize the structure of mathematics,” according to Steven Finch, a Boston-area mathematician. His Favorite Mathematical Constants Web site describes the derivation of more than 100 common and obscure constants. For example, Finch wrestles with the “moving sofa” constant (2.21953…), the area of the largest two-dimensional shape that can be slid around the bend in a “hallway” of constant width. Finch hopes visitors will contribute to the site, as more facts about constants remain to be discovered, he says: “We simply haven't examined them all with sufficient care.”

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