A Concise History of Mathematics

A Concise History of Mathematics

A Concise History of Mathematics

A Concise History of Mathematics

Excerpt

Mathematics is a vast adventure in ideas; its history reflects some of the noblest thoughts of countless generations. It was possible to condense this history into a book of less than three hundred pages only by subjecting ourselves to strict discipline, sketching the unfolding of a few main ideas and minimizing reference to other developments. Bibliographical details had to be restricted to an outline; many relatively important authors--Roberval, Lambert, Schwarz--had to be bypassed. Perhaps the most crippling restriction was the insufficient reference to the general cultural and sociological atmosphere in which the mathematics of a period matured--or was stifled. Mathematics has been influenced by agriculture, commerce and manufacture, by warfare, engineering and philosophy, by physics and by astronomy. The influence of hydrodynamics on function theory, of Kantianism and of surveying on geometry, of electromagnetism on differential equations, of Cartesianism on mechanics and of scholasticism on the calculus could only be indicated in a few sentences-- or perhaps a few words--yet an understanding of the course and content of mathematics can only be reached if all these determining factors are taken into consideration. Often a reference to the literature has had to replace an historical analysis. Our story ends by 1900, for we do not feel competent to judge the work of our contemporaries.

We hope that despite these restrictions we have been able to give a fairly honest description of the main . . .

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