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The History of the History of Mathematics

Case Studies for the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Benjamin Wardhaugh

The writing of mathematical histories has a long history, one which has seldom received scholarly attention. Mathematical history, and mathematical biography, raise distinctive issues of method and approach to which different periods have responded in different ways. At a time of increasing interest in the history of mathematics, this book attempts to show something of the trajectory that history has taken in the past. It presents seven case studies illustrating the different ways that mathematical histories have been written since the seventeenth century, ranging from the ‘historia’ of John Wallis to the recent re-presentation of Thomas Harriot’s manuscripts online. It considers both the ways that individual reputations and biographies have been shaped differently in different circumstances, and the ways that the discipline of mathematics has itself been variously presented through the writing of its history.


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Index 183


Index Abel, Niels Henrik 6, 115 centenary 6, 122–3, 137, 143 clarity and elegance of 129, 134 death of 121, 131 European tour 120, 130, 133, 135–6, 141 inf luence of 137–8 and Jacobi 120, 122, 125, 127–30, 138 letters of 122–3, 136 as a ‘modern’ mathematician 139–42, 144 and the Norwegian landscape 135–6 and the Norwegian state 130–32 portrait of 143 poverty of 130–31 and Weierstrass 140 works of 121, 137 see also Bjerknes, Carl Anton; Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne; Holmboe, Bernt Michael; Holst, Elling; Mittag- Lef f ler, Gösta Académie des sciences 52, 74, 82, 87–8 Acta mathematica see Mittag-Lef f ler, Gösta algebra, history of 3, 33, 40–1 see also Harriot, Thomas; Wallis, John algorism 32 ‘Algus’ 32 Arbuthnot, John, Usefulness of Mathematical Learning 44 arithmetic, history of 31–5, 37–40, 43–4 Baily, Francis, Account of the Rev. John Flamsteed 97, 101, 106 Barrow, Isaac 52, 54 Berlin Academy of Sciences 76 biography Freudian 67, 116 mathematical 4, 71, 116–17 scientific 5 see also under individual biographers Biot, Jean Baptiste 52, 60–1 Bjerknes, Carl Anton, biography of Abel 121–2, 126–30, 135 Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne, poem for Abel’s centennial 137 book trade English 11–12, 14 French 75 Brewster, David 55–6, 97–8 Life of Newton 61–2, 96 Memoirs 63, 105–7 see also De Morgan, Augustus Buf fon, Georges-Louis 81, 82, 88 Butler, William...

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