What Wardhaugh does exceptionally well is to break the ice for readers interested in the subject. He does this largely by training readers to ask insightful questions when they read a historical text.
Writings by early mathematicians feature language and notations that are quite different from what we're familiar with today. Sourcebooks on the history of mathematics provide some guidance, but what has been lacking is a guide tailored to the needs of readers approaching these writings for the first time. How to Read Historical Mathematics fills this gap by/i>
Writings by early mathematicians feature language and notations that are quite different from what we're familiar with today. Sourcebooks on the history of mathematics provide some guidance, but what has been lacking is a guide tailored to the needs of readers approaching these writings for the first time. How to Read Historical Mathematics fills this gap by introducing readers to the analytical questions historians ask when deciphering historical texts.
Sampling actual writings from the history of mathematics, Benjamin Wardhaugh reveals the questions that will unlock the meaning and significance of a given text--Who wrote it, why, and for whom? What was its author's intended meaning? How did it reach its present form? Is it original or a translation? Why is it important today? Wardhaugh teaches readers to think about what the original text might have looked like, to consider where and when it was written, and to formulate questions of their own. Readers pick up new skills with each chapter, and gain the confidence and analytical sophistication needed to tackle virtually any text in the history of mathematics.
"Anyone interested in the history of mathematics should start here, especially those who teach history of mathematics courses. The text is refreshing, relevant, and surprisingly interesting. A great read!"Choice
"[This book] is well written, readable, and straightforward. . . . It should be read by anyone who is using original source material to study the history of mathematics."David Ebert, Mathematics Teacher
"This is an extraordinary book for anyone interested in the history of mathematics. The author notes in the preface that reading historical mathematics can be fascinating, challenging, enriching, and endlessly rewarding. He then proceeds to illustrate how to analyze and get the most out of original source material."Jim Tattersall, MAA Reviews
"What Wardhaugh does exceptionally well is to break the ice for readers interested in the subject. He does this largely by training readers to ask insightful questions when they read a historical text."Sol Lederman, Wild About Math
"How to Read Historical Mathematics is filled with worthwhile advice to historians of mathematics and potential historians of mathematics. Wardhaugh's book should be readily available and kept with your personal reference books. It should also be in your school library."Donald Cook, Mathematical Review
"[A] splendid introduction to what to look for and to think about when reading historical source material in mathematics. . . . This volume provides much food for thought in relatively few pages, yet in a pleasantly relaxed manner."Leon Harkleroad, Zentralblatt MATH
"How to Read Historical Mathematics is more than a useful aid to students being introduced to the field: it is a practical field guide to a whole new way of doing the history of mathematics. I warmly recommend it."Amir Alexander, British Journal for the History of Science
"Although Wardhaugh's examples will likely appeal mainly to those already interested in the history of mathematics, his commentary is broadly applicable to all of history of science and indeed to all students of history generally. There are occasional mentions of technological tools unknown to earlier generations of historians, but for the most part the discussion is generic enough that one expects How to Read Historical Mathematics to remain relevant even in a future where JSTOR and Google Books may no longer have the place they hold now."David Lindsay Roberts, ISIS
"Each item is preceded by a brief sketch of its author and context. The entertainment for the reader rests not only with the mathematical content but also in the evolution of expository style and often inventive presentation."E. J. Barbeau,Mathematical Reviews Clippings
"The book is a small jewel, the book to give to the student who is interested in pursuing history of mathematics. The author is apparently a talented historian."UMAP Journal
Benjamin Wardhaugh is a postdoctoral research fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford. He is the author of "Music, Experiment, and Mathematics in England, 1653-1705".
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