Use this tag for questions concerning history of mathematics, historical primacies of results, and evolution of terminology, symbols, and notations.

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Citation: earliest incidence of the Borel localization theorem

The Borel localization theorem in (Borel) equivariant cohomology states that if $T$ is a torus and $M$ a smooth $T$-manifold, with fixed point set $M^T$, then upon localizing the coefficient ring ...
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Books / Articles on how mathematical education has changed over time

Can anyone recommend books/articles on approaches to teaching mathematics over centuries? How has it been changing since the beginning of mathematical education? Thank you
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71 views

In Whitehead & Russell's PM, what makes anything true or false?

It seems that truth and falsehood are fundamental to meanings and types. A proposition is defined as anything that is true or that is false. PM defines truth as "consisting in the fact that there is ...
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43 views

Why do some authors use terms “non-ascending” and “non-descending” instead of ascending and descending?

In my math book, everywhere the author has used "non-ascending" instead of descending and "non-descending" instead of ascending. I was wondering if there is some special meaning or use associated with ...
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History of Rigour and Formulism [on hold]

As we know, modern mathematics is based off of rigour and formalism. I am wondering what the history of this was. If I remember right, what a number is wasn't even defined hundreds of years ago ...
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31 views

Origin of period function model of primes

There is a web page attributed to Omar Pol, "Sobre el patrón de los números primos: Determinación geométrica de los números primos y perfectos." ("On the pattern of primes: Geometric Determination of ...
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57 views

(un)Intentionally funny titles of mathematical works [closed]

There are many mathematical/scientific works with very concise and relevant titles, but only few can be called 'funny' in some people's perspectives. For example, Fourier Transformation for ...
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Apolonius' definition of a parabola

I need help understanding what apollnius did when he defined a parabola and what he proved. "First let the diameter PM of the section be parallel to one of the sides of the axial triangle as AC, and ...
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2answers
100 views

Who first found the value of $\int_{-\infty}^{+\infty}e^{-x^2}dx$?

A fairly pretty technique of showing that $$\int_{-\infty}^{+\infty}e^{-x^2}dx = \sqrt{\pi}$$ is to square the integral, writing that square as the product of two integrals with integration variables ...
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Who first computed the Euler characteristic of a generalized flag manifold?

Let $G$ be a compact Lie group and $H$ a closed subgroup containing a maximal torus $T$ of $G$. Then the Euler characteristic of $G/H$ satisfies $$\chi(G/H) = \frac{|W_G|}{|W_H|},$$ where $W_G = ...
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76 views

No rigorous proofs from 200 B.C to 1870?

I'm reading: Mathematical thought from ancient to modern times by Kline. My question is about this pasasge: Beyond its achievements in subject matter, the nineteenth century reintroduced ...
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119 views

Moscow State Oral Exam

I have heard that during the 1960s, prospective students had to take an 'Oral Maths' exam (alongside written maths, physics and Russian literature). I having trouble imagining what type of exam this ...
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76 views

About terminology “Orthogonal” and “Orthonormal”

This question may not be of theoretical importance in Linear algebra, but I came to this question, while looking definition of orthogonal transformation in intuitive way. Let $V$ be an inner product ...
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74 views

Grothendieck's obituary. Anybody know the background behind this story?

"In a subsequent letter to Leila Schneps, Grothendieck said he would be prepared to share his research into physics with her if she could answer one question: “What is a metre?" " Source: ...
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1answer
73 views

How did Gauss discover the prime number theorem?

Carl Friedrich Gauss conjectured in his early youth that $$\lim_{x \rightarrow \infty} \frac{\pi(x)}{x/\log(x)} = 1.$$ Any idea how did he reach such result?
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49 views

Have Information Theoretic results been used in other branches of mathematics?

consider this a soft-question. Information Theory is fairly young branch of mathematics (60 years). I am interested in question, whether there have been any information theoretic results that had ...
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42 views

Examples of open problems solved through short proof

Are there good examples of reasonable open problems in mathematics that had an 'obvious' solution via application of a theorem already known/not yet found in mathematics but could have been found with ...
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1answer
107 views

An endless loop in a program that search for mathematical theorems and proofs − a milestone? [closed]

I don't know if there exist computer programs working on its own, trying to find and prove theorems, delivering proofs and go on searching for new theorems. But if (when) there are such programs, ...
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2answers
50 views

What is the most appropriate book for teaching, not the content but skills of mathematics

Hello Everyone I am a high school student currently doing Extension 1 Mathematics at my school. I am currently looking for a high quality mathematics book. Although I am not looking for a book, like ...
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103 views

Value of $\pi$ by Aryabhata

Aryabhata gave accurate approximate value of $\pi$. He wrote in Aryabhatiya following: add 4 to 100, multiply by 8 and then add 62,000. The result is approximately the circumference of circle of ...
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31 views

Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics

I am interested in how Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics and then symplectic geometry was developed starting from Newtonian mechanics. We can start by assuming that Newtonian mechanics tells us ...
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1answer
22 views

Necessary and sufficient condition for a number to be regular

Background: A number is said to be (sexagesimally) regular if its reciprocal has a finite sexagesimal expansion (that is, a finite expansion when expressed as a radix fraction for base 60). With the ...
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27 views

Looking for an English translation of Descartes's mathematical works

Good day to everyone! I am looking for an English translation of Descartes' mathematical works (particularly in elementary number theory). Would someone be kind enough as to point me to an ...
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3answers
79 views

geometry developments during the Islamic Golden Age (7-13 century)

Can anybody refer me to publications on geometry during the Islamic Golden Age? My interest is especially on Arab geometry an non-Euclidean geometry. But searching for sources was a saddening ...
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44 views

Chi-square or chi-squared?

The $\chi^2$ test/distribution is referred to as either "chi-square" (more frequently) or else "chi-squared" (less frequently). What is the history behind the name? Footnote 2 in this paper by Peter ...
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395 views

What is the oldest math source that we know of?

What is the oldest math source that we know of? Or to put it differently, what is the first math that was ever done?
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Did Landau prove that there is a prime on $(x,(1+1/5)x)?$

Was Landau the first to prove that there is a prime on $(x,\frac{6}{5}x )?$ In his Handbuch $^1$ discussing the limit $$\lim_{n\to\infty} (\pi((1+\epsilon)x)-\pi(x))=\infty $$ he seems to say that ...
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What is the most cited mathematical paper?

Just out of curiosity: What is the paper with the largest number of citations in all of mathematics? I think it is Shannon's A Mathematical Theory of ...
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79 views

Euler Vs. Diderot

I'm reading The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy and I came across a page with the following excerpt about Leonhard Euler: "The role of the court mathematician is perfectly illustrated by a ...
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81 views

Who First Considered This Generalization of the Fibonacci Numbers?

I am looking for the author who originally researched a generalization of the Fibonacci numbers, which Koshy, in Chapter 7 his book Fibonacci and Lucas Numbers with Application refers to as the ...
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1answer
84 views

Understanding the concepts of division and fractions

$\require{cancel}$ I'm having some issues regarding division so I will start by asking how this concept was developed throughout the ages: What was the first civilization to introduce the idea of ...
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138 views

To what extent were mathematicians in previous centuries aware of the lack of rigour in their methods?

By modern standards, much of pre-modern mathematics isn't rigorous. Famous examples include Euler's solution to the Basel problem or literally anything involving sets before Cantor and Russel came ...
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60 views

Algebra on a Louvre tablet

Problem: On a Louvre tablet of about 300 B.C. are four problems concerning rectangles of unit area and given semiperimeter. Let the sides and semiperimeter be $x,y$ and $a$. Then we have ...
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374 views

2015-related question: why are Lucas-Carmichael numbers named after Lucas?

Summary 2015 is a so called Lucas-Carmichael number. I believe (for reasons that I will explain below) that the 'Carmichael' in the name is a reference to ordinary Carmichael numbers and not to the ...
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83 views

How was 78557 originally suspected to be a Sierpinski number?

A Sierpinski number is an odd number $k$ such that $k2^n+1$ takes only composite values. In 1962, Selfridge proved that $78557$ is a Sierpinski number. It remains the smallest known such number. How ...
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What are some theorems that currently only have computer-assisted proofs?

What are some theorems that currently only have computer-assisted proofs? For example, there's the four colour theorem. I am very curious about this and would like to generate a list.
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Infinite series for the arctangent from the tangent of half-angle formula

From Hodge's biography of Turing: He had found the infinite series for the "inverse tangent function", starting from the trigonometrical formula for $\tan\left(\frac{1}{2}x\right)$.* The ...
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Why is “mathematical induction” called “mathematical”?

One of my whims is that I never write "mathematical induction" but just "induction". We are doing maths, so what is the point about precising? We don't say "Let $f$ be a mathematical function from the ...
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131 views

What are some mathematical problems which have been forgotten?

As mathematicians continue to study mathematics, often times they run into a problem which takes a considerable amount of effort to solve. For instance, trying to factor polynomials has lead to a ...
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53 views

Why does the radius come before the angle?

Based on my understanding, when delineating two variables (for a coordinate system or otherwise) convention is to label the 'independent variable' first, then the 'dependent variable'. So for a ...
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1answer
263 views

Why did Fermat care about characterizing primes on the form $p=x^{2}+ny^{2}$?

Im currently trying to figure out the genesis of quadratic reprocity by using Cox and Lemmermeyers books. I also got a copy of some works of Fermat but it is in German. It seems like there is some ...
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49 views

who discovered the orthocenter of a triangle?

I tried to answer Is there a name for this result in planar geometry? and wanted to go back to the first mention of the orthocenter (or even the altitude of a triangle, but i did draw a complete ...
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468 views

How did the Ancient Greeks know that the circle method of finding square roots was mathematically valid? How do we know that?

The Ancients used this method. (or at least James Grime said in a numberphile video) To construct the square root of a number, draw an interval of length $a+1$, and then draw a semi-circle with the ...
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212 views

Why do we write $a^n$ instead of $^n\!a$ for exponentiation?

For subtraction I can understand why $2-3 = 2+(-3)$ since we read from left to right, but I don't see why this need apply to exponentiation. What benefit is there to writing the base before the ...
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204 views

Source of Hardy-Littlewood's 2nd Conjecture

In what paper do Hardy and Littlewood first mention, specifically, their 2nd conjecture? It is not mentioned specifically in Partitio Numerorum III. This conjecture is usually expressed as ...
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5answers
185 views

Why do we first introduce the open set definition for continuity instead of the neighborhood definition?

After (nearly) completing my course in topology, something weird just stuck out to me which I hadn't considered before. When first discussing continuity, we often use the following definition: Let ...
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1answer
62 views

Who introduced the term indefinite integral and the notation $\int f(x)dx$?

I find the notation $\int f(x)dx$ for the indefinite integral of $f(x)$ on some interval $I$ is both suggestive and confusing. On the one hand, this notation is very suggestive when we calculate ...
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48 views

Lagrange's original proof of Remainder Theorem?

Where can I find Lagrange's original proof of the Remainder Theorem?
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44 views

St.Petersburg Paradox and Bernoulli's quote

I was reading about St.Petersburg paradox, and understood the proof that $\frac{S_n}{n\log n} \overset{P}{\rightarrow}1$. The textbook then quotes Bernoulli: "There ought not to exist any even ...
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274 views

When was it realized that complex numbers can't lie on a number line?

When I first learned about representation of a complex number by a point in a $2D$ plane, I wondered: what if it's redundant? What if a line is sufficient? Apparently, it's not, but I still wonder: ...