Past History of Mathematics

E.g., 2019-10-22
E.g., 2019-10-22
E.g., 2019-10-22
25 June 2019
17:00
Abstract

It is unnecessary to emphasize important place of algorithms in computer science. Many efficient and convenient algorithms are designed by borrowing or revising ancient mathematical algorithms and methods. For example, recursive method, exhaustive search method, greedy method, “divide and conquer” method, dynamic programming method, reiteration algorithm, circulation algorithm, among others.

 

From the perspective of the history of computer science, it is necessary to study the history of algorithms used in the computer computations. The history of algorithms for computer science is naturally regarded as a sub-object of history of mathematics. But historians of mathematics, at least those who study history of mathematics in China, have not realized it is important in the history of mathematics. Historians of Chinese mathematics paid little attention to these studies, mainly having not considered from this research angle. Relevant research is therefore insufficient in the field of history of mathematics.

 

The mechanization thought and algorithmization characteristic of Chinese traditional (and therefore, East Asian) mathematics, however, are coincident with that of computer science. Traditional Chinese algorithms, therefore, show their importance historical significance in computer science. It is necessary and important to survey traditional algorithms again from the point of views of computer science. It is also another angle for understanding traditional Chinese mathematics.

 

There are many things in the field that need to be researched. For example, when and how were these algorithms designed? What was their mathematical background? How were they applied in ancient mathematical context? How are their complexity and efficiency of ancient algorithms?

 

In the present paper, we will study the circulation structure in traditional Chinese mathematical algorithms. Circulation structures have great importance in the computer science. Most algorithms are designed by means of one or more circulation structures. Ancient Chinese mathematicians were familiar them with the circulation structures and good at their applications. They designed a lot of circulation structures to obtain their desirable results in mathematical computations. Their circulation structures of dozen ancient algorithms will be analyzed. They are selected from mathematical and astronomical treatises, and also one from the Yijing (Book of Changes), the oldest of the Chinese classics.

  • History of Mathematics
12 March 2019
14:00
Sepideh Alassi
Abstract

Jacob Bernoulli is known for his studies of the curves, infinitesimal math- ematics and statistics. However, before being a professor in mathematics, he taught experimental physics at the University of Basel. This explains his high interest in solving physical problems with newly developed Leibnizian calculus. In his scientific notebook, Meditationes, there are more than thirty notes about various mechanical problems for solving of which Bernoulli has applied Leibnizian calculus and has advanced this method along the way. A discussion with a craftsman brought Bernoulli’s attention to the problem of the strength of a beam early in his career and occupied his mind until his death. The craftsman’s narration based on his experience highlighted the flaws in Galilean-Leibnizian theory of the strength of a beam. This was the starting point of Bernoulli’s quest to mathematically find the profile of a bent beam (the Elastica Problem) and the physical laws governing it. He started a challenge to encourage other mathematicians of the time to study the problem, providing a hint hidden in an anagram. Although he published his solution of the Elastica Problem in 1694, that was not the end of the quest for him. Studying his unpublished notes in Meditationes reveals that over the last decade of his life, Bernoulli has reconsidered the problem. In my project, I demonstrate that he has found remarkable concepts such as mean tensile stress, and the notion of local stress-strain relation, etc.

  • History of Mathematics
18 February 2019
17:00
Ryan Hayward
Abstract

Seeking income during World War II, Piet Hein created the game now called Hex, marketing it through the Danish newspaper Politiken.  The game was popular but disappeared in 1943 when Hein fled Denmark.

The game re-appeared in 1948 when John Nash introduced it to Princeton's game theory group, and became popular again in 1957 after Martin Gardner's column --- "Concerning the game of Hex, which may be played on the tiles of the bathroom floor" --- appeared in Scientific American.

I will survey the early history of Hex, highlighting the war's influence on Hein's design and marketing, Hein's mysterious puzzle-maker, and Nash's fascination with Hex's theoretical properties.

  • History of Mathematics
4 December 2018
14:00
Abstract

The Oberwolfach Research Institute for Mathematics (Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach/MFO) was founded in late 1944 by the Freiburg mathematician Wilhelm Süss (1895-1958) as the „National Institute for Mathematics“. In the 1950s and 1960s the MFO developed into an increasingly international conference centre.

The aim of my project is to analyse the history of the MFO as it institutionally changed from the National Institute for Mathematics with a wide, but standard range of responsibilities, to an international social infrastructure for research completely new in the framework of German academia. The project focusses on the evolvement of the institutional identity of the MFO between 1944 and the early 1960s, namely the development and importance of the MFO’s scientific programme (workshops, team work, Bourbaki) and the instruments of research employed (library, workshops) as well as the corresponding strategies to safeguard the MFO’s existence (for instance under the wings of the Max-Planck-Society). In particular, three aspects are key to the project, namely the analyses of the historical processes of (1) the development and shaping of the MFO’s workshop activities, (2) the (complex) institutional safeguarding of the MFO, and (3) the role the MFO played for the re-internationalisation of mathematics in Germany. Thus the project opens a window on topics of more general relevance in the history of science such as the complexity of science funding and the re-internationalisation of the sciences in the early years of the Federal Republic of Germany.

  • History of Mathematics
9 November 2018
15:00
Isobel Falconer
Abstract

In 1897 J.J. Thomson 'discovered' the electron. The previous year, he and his research student Ernest Rutherford (later to 'discover' theatomic nucleus), collaborated in experiments to work out why gases exposed to x-rays became conducting. 


This talk will discuss the very different mathematical educations of the two men, and the impact these differences had on their experimental investigation and the theory they arrived at. This theory formed the backdrop to Thomson's electron work the following year. 

  • 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
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
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
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

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