The History of Mathematical Tables: From Sumer to Spreadsheets

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Overview

The oldest known mathematical table was found in the ancient Sumerian city of Shuruppag in southern Iraq. Since then, tables have been an important feature of mathematical activity and are important precursors to modern computing and information processing. This book contains a series of articles summarizing the history of mathematical tables from earliest times until the late twentieth century. It covers mathematical tables (the most important computing aid for several hundred years until 1960s), data tables (i.e. Census tables), professional tables (ie. Insurance tables), and spreadsheets-the most recent tabular innovation. The book is presented in a scholarly yet accessible way, making appropriate use of text boxes and illustrations. Each chapter has a frontispiece featuring a table along with a small illustration of the source where the table was first displayed. Most chapters have sidebars telling a short "story" or history relating to the chapter. The aim of this edited volume is to capture the history of tables through eleven chapters written by subject specialists. The contributors describe the various information processing techniques and artifacts whose unifying concept is "the mathematical table".

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198508410
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/11/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Warwick

University of Warwick

Oxford University Department for Continuing Education; Fellow of Kellogg College

All Souls College, Oxford

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Table and tabular formatting in Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria, 2500 BCE - 50 CE, Eleanor Robson
The making of logarithm tables, Graham Jagger
The computation factory: de Prony's project for making tables in the 1790's, Ivor Grattan-Guinness
Difference engines: from Muller to Comrie, Michael R. Williams
The 'unerring certainty of mechanical agency': machines and table making in the nineteenth century, Doron Swade
Table making in astronomy, Arthur L. Norberg
The General Registry Office and the tabulation of data, 1837 - 1939, Edward Higgs
Table making by committee; British table maker 1871 - 1965, Mary Croarken
Table making for the relief of labour, David Alan Grier
The making of astronomical tables in H.M. Nautical Almanac Office, George A. Wilkins
The rise and rise of the spreadsheet, Martin Campbell-Kelly
Biographical Notes

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