History of Mathematics

Please note that the list below only shows forthcoming events, which may not include regular events that have not yet been entered for the forthcoming term. Please see the past events page for a list of all seminar series that the department has on offer.

Past events in this series
27 July 2018
14:30
Eduardo Dorrego López
Abstract

The emergence of analytic methods in the 17th century opened a new way in order to tackle the elucidation of certain quantities. The strong presence of the circle-squaring problem, focused mainly the attention on π, on which besides the serious doubts about its rationality, it arises an awareness---boosted by the new algebraic approach---of the difficulty of framing it inside algebraic boundaries. The term ``transcendence'' emerges in this context but with a very ambiguous meaning.

The first great step towards its comprehension, took place in the 18th century and came from Johann Heinrich Lambert's hand, who using a new analytical machinery---continued fractions---gave the first proof of irrationality of π. The problem of keeping this number inside the algebraic limits, also receives an especial attention at the end of his Mémoires sur quelques propriétés remarquables des quantités transcendantes, circulaires et logarithmiques, published by the Berlin Academy of Science in 1768. In this work, Lambert after giving to the term ``transcendence'' its modern meaning, conjectures the transcendence of π and therefore the impossibility of squaring the circle.

  • History of Mathematics
27 July 2018
15:00
Christopher Hollings
Abstract

The International Congresses of Mathematicians (ICMs) have taken place at (reasonably) regular intervals since 1897, and although their participants may have wanted to confine these events purely to mathematics, they could not help but be affected by wider world events.  This is particularly true of the 1936 ICM, held in Oslo.  In this talk, I will give a whistle-stop tour of the early ICMs, before discussing the circumstances of the Oslo meeting, with a particular focus on the activities of the Nazi-led German delegation.

  • History of Mathematics
27 July 2018
16:00
Howard Emmens
Abstract

Relatively little is known about the correspondence of William Burnside, a pioneer of group theory in the UK. There are only a few dozen extant letters from or to him, though they are not without interest. However, one of the most noteworthy letters to or at least about him, in that it had a special mention in his obituary in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, has not been positively identified. It's not clear who it was from or when it was sent. We'€™ll look at some possibilities.

  • History of Mathematics
27 July 2018
16:30
Anjing Qu
Abstract

In the 6th century, the phenomena of irregularity of the solar motion and parallax of the moon were found by Chinese astronomers. This made the calculation of solar eclipse much more complex than before. The strategy that Chinese calendar-makers dealt with was different from the geometrical model system like Greek astronomers taken as. What Chinese astronomers chose is a numerical algorithm system which was widely taken as a thinking mode to construct the theory of mathematical astronomy in old China. 

  • History of Mathematics
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