The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics

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This Handbook explores the history of mathematics under a series of themes which raise new questions about what mathematics has been and what it has meant to practice it. It addresses questions of who creates mathematics, who uses it, and how. A broader understanding of mathematical practitioners naturally leads to a new appreciation of what counts as a historical source. Material and oral evidence is drawn upon as well as an unusual array of textual sources. Further, the ways in which people have chosen to express themselves are as historically meaningful as the contents of the mathematics they have produced. Mathematics is not a fixed and unchanging entity. New questions, contexts, and applications all influence what counts as productive ways of thinking. Because the history of mathematics should interact constructively with other ways of studying the past, the contributors to this book come from a diverse range of intellectual backgrounds in anthropology, archaeology, art history, philosophy, and literature, as well as history of mathematics more traditionally understood.

The thirty-six self-contained, multifaceted chapters, each written by a specialist, are arranged under three main headings: 'Geographies and Cultures', 'Peoples and Practices', and 'Interactions and Interpretations'. Together they deal with the mathematics of 5000 years, but without privileging the past three centuries, and an impressive range of periods and places with many points of cross-reference between chapters. The key mathematical cultures of North America, Europe, the Middle East, India, and China are all represented here as well as areas which are not often treated in mainstream history of mathematics, such as Russia, the Balkans, Vietnam, and South America. This Handbook will be a vital reference for graduates and researchers in mathematics, historians of science, and general historians.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199213122
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/18/2009
  • Series: Oxford Handbooks Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 800
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Eleanor Robson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She is the author of Mesopotamian mathematics, 2100-1600 BC (1999), Mathematics in Ancient Iraq: A Social History (2008), and many articles on the socio-intellectual history of the cuneiform world. She is co-director of an AHRC-funded project on the geography of knowledge in Assyria and Babylonia.

Jacqueline Stedall is Junior Research Fellow in Mathematics at The Queen's College, Oxford. Her research focuses on European mathematics from the 16th century to the 18th with a special interest in the development of algebra. Recent publications include Mathematics Emerging: A Sourcebook, 1540-1900 (2008) and The 'Magisteria magna' of Thomas Harriot (2008, with Janet Beery). She is also editor of the BSHM Bulletin, journal of the British Society of the History of Mathematics.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Eleanor Robson and Jacqueline Stedall
Geographies and Cultures: Global
1.1. What was mathematics in the ancient world? Greek and Chinese perspectives, G E R Lloyd
1.2. Mathematics and authority: a case study in New and Old World accounting, Gary Urton
1.3. Heavenly learning, statecraft, and scholarship: the Jesuits and their mathematics in China, Catherine Jami
1.4. The internationalization of mathematics in a world of nations, 1800-1960, Karen Parshall
Geographies and Cultures: Regional
2.1. The two cultures of mathematics in ancient Greece, Markus Asper
2.2. Tracing mathematical networks in seventeenth-century England, Jacqueline Stedall
2.3. Mathematics and mathematics education in traditional Vietnam, Alexei Volkov
2.4. A Balkan trilogy: mathematics in the Balkans before the First World War, Snezana Lawrence
Geographies and Cultures: Local
3.1. Mathematics education in an Old Babylonian scribal school, Eleanor Robson
3.2. The archaeology of mathematics in an ancient Greek city, David Gilman Romano
3.3. Engineering the Neapolitan state, Massimo Mazzotti
3.4. Observatory mathematics in the nineteenth century, David Aubin
People and Practices: Lives
4.1. Patronage of the mathematical sciences in Islamic societies, Sonja Brentjes
4.2. John Aubrey and the 'Lives of our English mathematical writers', Kate Bennett
4.3. Introducing mathematics, building an empire: Russia under Peter I, Irina and Dmitri Gouzevitch
4.4. Human computers in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain, Mary Croarken
People and Practices: Practices
5.1. Mixing, building, and feeding: mathematics and technology in ancient Egypt, Corinna Rossi
5.2. Siyaq: numerical notation in the Persianate world, Brian Spooner and William Hanaway
5.3. Learning arithmetic: textbooks and their users in England 1500-1900, John Denniss
5.4. Algorithms and automation: mathematics and weaving, Carrie Brezine
People and Practices: Presentation
6.1. The cognitive and cultural foundations of numbers, Stephen Chrisomalis
6.2. Sanskrit mathematical verse, Kim Plofker
6.3. Antiquity, nobility, and utility: picturing the Early Modern mathematical sciences, Volker Remmert
6.4. Writing the ultimate mathematical textbook: Nicolas Bourbaki's Elements de mathematique, Leo Corry
Interactions and Interpretations: Intellectual
7.1. People and numbers in early imperial China, Christopher Cullen
7.2. Mathematics in fourteenth-century theology, Mark Thakkar
7.3. Mathematics, music, and experiment in late seventeenth-century England, Benjamin Wardhaugh
7.4. Modernism in mathematics, Jeremy Gray
Interactions and Interpretations: Mathematical
8.1. The transmission of the Elements to the Latin West: three case studies, Sabine Rommeveaux
8.2. 'Gigantic implements of war': images of Newton as a mathematician, Niccolo Guicciardini
8.3. From cascades to calculus: Rolle's Theorem, June Barrow-Green
8.4. Abstraction and application: new contexts, new interpretations in twentieth-century mathematics, Tinne Hoff Kjeldsen
Interactions and Interpretations: Historical
9.1. Traditions and myths in the historiography of Egyptian mathematics, Annette Imhausen
9.2. Reading ancient Greek mathematics, Ken Saito
9.3. Number, shape, and the nature of space: thinking through Islamic art, Carol Bier
9.4. The historiography and history of mathematics in the Third Reich, Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze
About the contributors

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