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Abramowitz and Stegun

Handbook of Mathematical Functions with Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables
Page 97 showing part of a table of common logarithms
Author Milton Abramowitz and Irene Stegun
Country United States
Language English
Genre Math
Publisher Dover Publications
Publication date
ISBN 0-486-61272-4
OCLC 18003605

Abramowitz and Stegun is the informal name of a mathematical reference work edited by Milton Abramowitz and Irene Stegun of the United States National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology). Its full title is Handbook of Mathematical Functions with Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables.

Since it was first published in 1964, the 1046 page Handbook has been one of the most comprehensive sources of information on special functions, containing definitions, identities, approximations, plots, and tables of values of numerous functions used in virtually all fields of applied mathematics.[1] The notation used in the Handbook is the de facto standard for much of applied mathematics today.

At the time of its publication, the Handbook was an essential resource for practitioners. Nowadays, computer algebra systems have replaced the function tables, but the Handbook remains an important reference source. The foreword discusses a meeting in 1954 in which it was agreed that "the advent of high-speed computing equipment changed the task of table making but definitely did not remove the need for tables".

More than 1,000 pages long, the Handbook of Mathematical Functions was first published in 1964 and reprinted many times, with yet another reprint in 1999. Its influence on science and engineering is evidenced by its popularity. In fact, when New Scientist magazine recently asked some of the world’s leading scientists what single book they would want if stranded on a desert island, one distinguished British physicist[2] said he would take the Handbook.

The Handbook is likely the most widely distributed and most cited NIST technical publication of all time. Government sales exceed 150,000 copies, and an estimated three times as many have been reprinted and sold by commercial publishers since 1965. During the mid-1990s, the book was cited every 1.5 hours of each working day. And its influence will persist as it is currently being updated in digital format by NIST.



Because the Handbook is the work of U.S. federal government employees acting in their official capacity, it is not protected by copyright. While it can be ordered from the Government Printing Office, it has also been reprinted by commercial publishers, most notably Dover Publications (ISBN 0-486-61272-4), and can be legally viewed and downloaded off the web.


A digital successor to the Handbook, long under development at NIST, was released as the “Digital Library of Mathematical Functions” (DLMF) on May 11, 2010, along with a printed version, the NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions, published by Cambridge University Press (ISBN 978-0-521-19225-5). More information can be found at NIST.

See also


  1. ^ Boisvert, R. et al. (2011) A Special Functions Handbook for the Digital Age, NAMS 58(7), 905-911.
  2. ^ Michael Berry, New Scientist 22 November 1997
  3. ^ NIST at 100: Foundations for Progress, 1964:Mathematics Handbook Becomes Best Seller —
  4. ^ "Boole's Rule - from Wolfram MathWorld". 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 


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