Download e-book for kindle: A History of Mathematics: From Mesopotamia to Modernity by Luke Hodgkin

By Luke Hodgkin

ISBN-10: 0198529376

ISBN-13: 9780198529378

Even supposing the bankruptcy issues stick with the present version of historical past of arithmetic textual content books (compare the desk of contents Victor J. Katz's heritage of arithmetic; particularly similar), the textual content has a energy, intensity, and honesty discovered all too seldom in a textual content ebook mathematical background. this isn't the common text-book on technical heritage that may be brushed off (as Victor J. Katz's could be) as "a pack of lies" with in simple terms "slight exageration" (to quote William Berkson's Fields of Force).Also, the textual content is daring sufficient to cite and translate the particular and standard variety of presentation utilized in Bourbaki conferences: "tu es demembere foutu Bourbaki" ("you are dismmembered [..]) [a telegram despatched through Bourbaki workforce to Cartan, informing him that his e-book used to be approved and will be published]. Luke Hodgkin's textual content dispenses with the asterisk (see p.241).

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A simpler case is the ‘square root of 2’ tablet, which seems straightforward in its interpretation (Fig. 6). The picture shows a square; its side is marked √ 30 1 (or 2 ), and the diagonal has two sexagesimal numbers marked. One is a good approximation to 2 √ (1, 24, 51, 10), the other to the diagonal 2/2 (42, 25, 35). Nearly the same sexagesimal numbers will appear again when we deal with Islamic mathematicians over 3000 years later; for now it is worth raising the question of what these numbers were used for, and how they were arrived at.

To answer this question would require some thought about what the ‘point’ of any mathematical procedure is. At one level, we can imagine that the ability to deal with increasingly difficult problems, regardless of their meaning, could be used as an examination-type filtering mechanism within the scribal schools, marking off the bright students from the mediocre ones; or, outside the schools, it could be a form of competition between ‘freelance’ scribes (they existed too) who were trying to attract clients.

In a problem, it will be 30 somethings— a measurement of some kind, which is stated explicitly, for example, length or area in appropriate units; and this will usually make clear which meaning it should have. g. the ‘40 times table’), which often concern simple numbers. 7 Or 30 × 60 × 60 and so on. If the decimals—‘30’ can also mean 30 × 60 answer was written as 30, you should—and this is an idea which we can recognize from our own practice—be able to deduce what ‘30’ meant from the context.

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A History of Mathematics: From Mesopotamia to Modernity by Luke Hodgkin


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