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The History of Mathematical Proof in Ancient Traditions

£124.00

  • Editor: Karine Chemla, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris
Karine Chemla, Bernard Vitrac, Ken Saito, Nathan Sidoli, Reviel Netz, Orna Harari, Dhruv Raina, Agathe Keller, François Charette, Geoffrey Lloyd, Ian Mueller, Jens Høyrup, Christine Proust, Alexei Volkov, Tian Miao
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  • Date Published: July 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107012219

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  • This radical, profoundly scholarly book explores the purposes and nature of proof in a range of historical settings. It overturns the view that the first mathematical proofs were in Greek geometry and rested on the logical insights of Aristotle by showing how much of that view is an artefact of nineteenth-century historical scholarship. It documents the existence of proofs in ancient mathematical writings about numbers and shows that practitioners of mathematics in Mesopotamian, Chinese and Indian cultures knew how to prove the correctness of algorithms, which are much more prominent outside the limited range of surviving classical Greek texts that historians have taken as the paradigm of ancient mathematics. It opens the way to providing the first comprehensive, textually based history of proof.

    • A groundbreaking global outlook of the history of mathematical proof in the ancient traditions
    • Offers a reflection on the shaping of the Eurocentric history of proof in the nineteenth century
    • Will appeal to historians and philosophers of science as well as mathematicians
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This radical, profoundly scholarly book explores the purposes and nature of proof in a range of historical settings. It overturns the view that the first mathematical proofs were in Greek geometry and rested on the logical insights of Aristotle by showing how much of that view is an artefact of nineteenth-century historical scholarship. It documents the existence of proofs in ancient mathematical writings about numbers and shows that practitioners of mathematics in Mesopotamian, Chinese and Indian cultures knew how to prove the correctness of algorithms, which are much more prominent outside the limited range of surviving classical Greek texts that historians have taken as the paradigm of ancient mathematics. It opens the way to providing the first comprehensive, textually based history of proof.' Jeremy Gray, Open University

    'At long last, a substantial single volume on the history of ancient mathematics makes the cutting-edge research of scholars, some of whom normally publish in other languages, accessible to the English speaking reader … this volume is a milestone - the history of ancient mathematics has its very own French revolution, and it has finally crossed the Channel.' Serafina Cuomo, British Journal for the History of Science

    '… a collection of meticulous, expert studies of ancient mathematical texts. The individual chapters are essential reading for historians of geometry and arithmetic, and the volume, as a whole, will no doubt become canonical in the history of mathematics. Together, Karine Chemla and her ensemble of scholars successfully make the case for revising the nineteenth-century portrait of the history of mathematical proof that prevails even today. We must question the critical editions we employ, and we must expand the history of mathematical proof to include algorithmic texts in the Greek, Mesopotamian, Indian, Chinese, and Islamic traditions.' Early Science and Medicine

    'The purpose of the book … is to challenge the standard narrative and design a research program to replace it with a more adequate assessment of the achievements of non-Greek mathematicians in antiquity. The pivotal question is, in what sense and by what methods were mathematical procedures justified in showing that they always produce correct results when applied?' Jochen Brüning, Common Knowledge

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107012219
    • length: 614 pages
    • dimensions: 255 x 180 x 36 mm
    • weight: 1.17kg
    • contains: 93 b/w illus. 29 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: historiography and history of mathematical proof: a research program Karine Chemla
    Part I. Views on the Historiography of Mathematical Proof:
    1. The Euclidean ideal of proof in The Elements and philological uncertainties of Heiberg's edition of the text Bernard Vitrac
    2. Diagrams and arguments in ancient Greek mathematics: lessons drawn from comparisons of the manuscript diagrams with those in modern critical editions Ken Saito and Nathan Sidoli
    3. The texture of Archimedes' arguments: through Heiberg's veil Reviel Netz
    4. John Philoponus and the conformity of mathematical proofs to Aristotelian demonstrations Orna Harari
    5. Contextualising Playfair and Colebrooke on proof and demonstration in the Indian mathematical tradition (1780–1820) Dhruv Raina
    6. Overlooking mathematical justifications in the Sanskrit tradition: the nuanced case of G. F. Thibaut Agathe Keller
    7. The logical Greek versus the imaginative Oriental: on the historiography of 'non-Western' mathematics during the period 1820–1920 François Charette
    Part II. History of Mathematical Proof in Ancient Traditions: The Other Evidence:
    8. The pluralism of Greek 'mathematics' Geoffrey Lloyd
    9. Generalizing about polygonal numbers in ancient Greek mathematics Ian Mueller
    10. Reasoning and symbolism in Diophantus: preliminary observations Reviel Netz
    11. Mathematical justification as non-conceptualized practice: the Babylonian example Jens Høyrup
    12. Interpretation of reverse algorithms in several Mesopotamian texts Christine Proust
    13. Reading proofs in Chinese commentaries: algebraic proofs in an algorithmic context Karine Chemla
    14. Dispelling mathematical doubts: assessing mathematical correctness of algorithms in Bhaskara's commentary on the mathematical chapter of the Aryabhatıya Agathe Keller
    15. Argumentation for state examinations: demonstration in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese mathematics Alexei Volkov
    16. A formal system of the Gougu method - a study on Li Rui's detailed outline of mathematical procedures for the right-angled triangle Tian Miao.

  • Editor

    Karine Chemla, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris
    Karine Chemla is Senior Researcher at the CNRS (Research Unit SPHERE, France) and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. She is also Professor on a Guest Chair at Northwestern University, Xi'an, as well as at Shanghai Jiaotong University and Hebei Normal University, China. She was awarded a 'Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Professorship for Senior Foreign Scientists' in 2009.

    Contributors

    Karine Chemla, Bernard Vitrac, Ken Saito, Nathan Sidoli, Reviel Netz, Orna Harari, Dhruv Raina, Agathe Keller, François Charette, Geoffrey Lloyd, Ian Mueller, Jens Høyrup, Christine Proust, Alexei Volkov, Tian Miao

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