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The History of the History of Mathematics: Case Studies for by Benjamin Wardhaugh

By Benjamin Wardhaugh

The writing of mathematical histories has a protracted historical past, one that has seldom bought scholarly consciousness. Mathematical historical past, and mathematical biography, elevate detailed problems with process and method of which assorted sessions have replied in numerous methods. At a time of accelerating curiosity within the historical past of arithmetic, this publication makes an attempt to teach whatever of the trajectory that historical past has taken some time past. It offers seven case stories illustrating different ways in which mathematical histories were written because the 17th century, starting from the ‘historia’ of John Wallis to the hot re-presentation of Thomas Harriot’s manuscripts on-line. It considers either the ways in which person reputations and biographies were formed another way in several conditions, and the ways in which the self-discipline of arithmetic has itself been variously awarded in the course of the writing of its heritage.

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Extra info for The History of the History of Mathematics: Case Studies for the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

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At a period when the ‘mathematician’ might be a surveyor, instrument maker or mechanic, there was no readymade box in which to place someone like Newton. It was only with the development of more abstract mathematics, first on the Continent and subsequently in Britain, that the term began to be understood as denoting a specialist practitioner of an essentially academic discipline, rather than someone who was skilled in using mathematics as a means of solving practical problems. 10 Naturally, these developments had an impact on the way that Newton was presented, and how his mathematics were researched and judged.

The History of the History of Mathematics : Case Studies for the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries Account: ns148561 Copyright © 2012. P. Lang. All rights reserved. S. or applicable copyright law. ) Many are the later writers in whose discussions of these subjects there are clear echoes of Malcolm’s distinctive turns of phrase, and, as far as I have been able to determine, nearly every account of the early history of arithmetic written later in eighteenth-century Britain was at least in part a paraphrase, a précis or an expansion, sometimes at second or third hand, of what Malcolm had to say.

9 Thus, while Newton’s results were spectacular, if mathematics is understood as a ‘collection of techniques’ or useful tools that might be wielded in dif ferent contexts by all competent mathematicians, Newton’s mathematical 8 9 Andrew Warwick, Masters of Theory: Cambridge and the Rise of Mathematical Physics (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 57. John Heard, ‘The Evolution of the Pure Mathematician in England, 1850–1920’, unpublished PhD dissertation (University of London, 2004), 43, 51.

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