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e: The Story of a Number by Eli Maor

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Financial Matters

If thou lend money to any of My people, … thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest.—EXODUS 22:24

From time immemorial money matters have been at the center of human concerns. No other aspect of life has a more mundane character than the urge to acquire wealth and achieve financial security. So it must have been with some surprise that an anonymous mathematician—or perhaps a merchant or moneylender—in the early seventeenth century noticed a curious connection between the way money grows and the behavior of a certain mathematical expression at infinity.

Central to any consideration of money is the concept of interest, or money paid on a loan. The practice of charging a fee for borrowing ...

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