The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics

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Eleanor Robson, Jacqueline Stedall
OUP Oxford, 18. des. 2008 - 926 síđur
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 practise 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. A vital reference for graduates and researchers in mathematics, historians of science, and general historians.


About the contributors

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Eleanor Robson is Reader in Ancient Middle Eastern Science in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. 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 Senior Research Fellow in History of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford, and Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford. Her research focuses on European mathematics from the 16th to the 18th century, 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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