David Brown in the Washington Post:
You should approach Joyce’s “Ulysses” as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.
— William Faulkner
Let’s approach Leonhard Euler and his work the same way. It will make things a whole lot easier.
If one is not a mathematician (and except for a few of you out there, who is?), it’s going to be impossible to actually understand why Euler was such a great man. Other people will have to tell us, and we should probably believe them.
In 1988, the journal Mathematical Intelligencer asked its readers to list the most beautiful equations in mathematics. Of the top five, Euler, who was born in Basel, Switzerland, 300 years ago next Sunday, discovered three of them, including No. 1:
ei(pi) + 1 = 0.
(The other two were from Euclid, who worked in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.)