A Source Book in Mathematics

A Source Book in Mathematics

A Source Book in Mathematics

A Source Book in Mathematics

Excerpt

The purpose of a source book is to supply teachers and students with a selection of excerpts from the works of the makers of the subject considered. The purpose of supplying such excerpts is to stimulate the study of the various branches of this subjects--in the present case, the subject of mathematics. By knowing the beginnings of these branches, the reader is encouraged to follow the growth of the science, to see how it has developed, to appreciate more clearly its present status, and thus to see its future possibilities.

It need hardly be said that the preparation of a source book has many difficulties. In this particular case, one of these lies in the fact that the general plan allows for no sources before the advent of printing or after the close of the nineteenth century. On the one hand, this eliminates most of mathematics before the invention of the calculus and modern geometry; while on the other hand, it excludes all recent activities in this field. The latter fact is not of great consequence for the large majority of readers, but the former is more serious for all who seek the sources of elementary mathematics. It is to be hoped that the success of the series will permit of a volume devoted to this important phase of the development of the science.

In the selection of material in the four and a half centuries closing with the year 1900, it is desirable to touch upon a wide range of interests. In no other way can any source book be made to meet the needs, the interests, and the tastes of a wide range of readers. To make selections from the field, however, is to neglect many more sources than can possibly be selected. It would be an easy thing for anyone to name a hundred excerpts that he would wish to see, and to eliminate selections in which he has no . . .

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