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Math trivia

I was with my niece this past weekend - a high school senior taking honors 
calculus.  She asked me where e (the natural exponential constant - 2.718282) 
came from.  I told her that I thought it had been empirically derived by 
observation of exponential processes, but that was just an educated guess 
on my part.  Does anyone know the correct answer?

Please reply to me at:


Diane Elmer