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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

1
vote
4answers
138 views

Why didn't Fermat provide proofs of his theorems?

Apparently Fermat stated but didn't provide proofs of various theorems named after him, including Fermat's little theorem, Fermat's theorem on sums of two squares, Fertmat's polygonal number theorem, ...
4
votes
1answer
69 views

How would Johann Bernoulli have tutored Euler?

Early in Euler's life (when he was still a child/teenager), the Euler family friend Johann Bernoulli would tutor Euler in mathematics. Do we know how Johann Bernoulli would have tutored the young ...
5
votes
0answers
112 views

How do mathematicians know what is known?

How do mathematicians know that what they are researching has not been already know for 200 years? Obviously if they are researching something that is cutting edge it is not a problem, but if one is ...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

Examples of “Non-Logical Theorems” Proven by Logic

I am still an undergraduate student, and so perhaps I just haven't seen enough of the mathematical world. Question: What are some examples of mathematical logic solving open problem outside of ...
2
votes
1answer
69 views

Did the ancient Sumerians calculate the square root of two?

This post makes the claim: Not bad you might think, but compare it to the Summerian Kù of 51.85cm of the copper of Nippur and its derived unit SAR of 3600 Kù being 1866.6 meter being only 0.77% ...
3
votes
0answers
59 views

What is the origin of “how the Japanese multiply” / line multiplication?

A few months ago I made a video about a way to multiply numbers using lines (here) and it got really popular. I had heard about this trick before and I wanted to trace its origins. It seems to me to ...
6
votes
1answer
69 views

How did Le Verrier calculate Neptune's position?

In the Wikipdia article on Neptune the discovery is described as a mathematical achievement: Subsequent observations revealed substantial deviations from the tables, leading Bouvard to ...
4
votes
2answers
115 views

Who invented or used very first the double lined symbols $\mathbb{R},\mathbb{Q},\mathbb{N}$ etc

Who invented or used very first the double lined symbols $\mathbb{R},\mathbb{Q},\mathbb{N}$ etc. to represent the real number system, rational number system, natural number system respectively?
2
votes
1answer
38 views

Origin of Slater's condition

I've been looking all over the internet to answer this question: Slater's condition is a commonly used to certify that strong duality holds in a convex optimization problem. Although used in many ...
3
votes
1answer
167 views

What is this myth/legend and origin of related ideas?

There is a story I recently heard but the story teller (who read about it someone on the Internet) have forgotten the majority of the story, so there is little I can work on: my search attempts went ...
13
votes
7answers
497 views
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Sophie Germain primes

Why did Germain come up with her Germain primes? I am intrigued to know why Sophie came across these primes. Do they have any applications?
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Understanding the difference between relations and functions.

$R=\{(1,2),(1,3)\}$ is a relation but not function. The logic for this is that if the first element of every ordered pair must remain different, then it is said to be function. Otherwise, it's just ...
20
votes
3answers
652 views

Who named “Quotient groups”?

Who decided to call quotient groups quotient groups, and why did they choose that name? A lot of identities such as $$\frac{G/A}{B/A}\cong \frac{G}{B}$$ suggest that whoever invented the notation ...
3
votes
2answers
123 views

What is the intutive explanation of why the notation of matrices is as it is?

If I want to solve a system of linear equations, like 2x-y=1 x+2y=4 Then the matrix notation for the same would be: $$ \begin{bmatrix} 2 & -1 \\ 1 & 2 \\ \end{bmatrix} \begin{bmatrix} X\\ ...
2
votes
1answer
100 views

Why didn't Frege succeed in his attempts to reduce mathematics to logic?

My background: Sophomore-level understanding of mathematics and philosophical logic. All the explanations I have found online so far are either far too technical or too simplistic. Thanks in advance ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Why we can't define more mathematical constant?

I would like to know how many mathematical constant are there? I saw this link and I know the names. Who can define a mathematical constant? Someone can say that ...
0
votes
2answers
74 views

What is the meaning of calculating sine of a number?

When we calculate sine/cos/tan etc. of a number what exactly are we doing in terms of elementary mathematical concept, please try to explain in an intuitive and theoretical manner and as much as ...
7
votes
1answer
80 views

Who first proved the fundamental theorem of finitely generated (or finite) abelian groups?

The fundamental theorem of finitely generated abelian groups (or maybe just finite abelian groups) is well-known and can be found in just about any text on the theory of groups or abstract algebra. ...
6
votes
6answers
223 views

Interviews of famous modern mathematicians

I was wondering, are there any good collections of interviews of famous modern mathematicians? It can be text interviews, or audio or video recordings. I am not sure what exactly I mean by "modern". ...
2
votes
0answers
22 views

Cayley on “trivial transformations”

In his 1854 paper, "Deuxième mémoire sur les fonctions doublement périodiques" ("Second memoir on doubly periodic functions"), Cayley discusses (what we would today describe as) a certain class of ...
11
votes
2answers
409 views

History of Algebraic Geometry: Motivation behind definition of schemes

I am trying to read an article by Jean Dieudonne which talks about development of Algebraic Geometry. The article was being published in the journal "Advances in Mathematics" Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

Coincidence about nabla?

I was surprised to notice that gradient of function and Levi-Civita connection have the same notation, i.e. nabla sign $\nabla$. Moreover, extending any connection on tensors, one let it be ...
2
votes
1answer
66 views

Descartes on imaginary unit.

I heard once that Descartes defining the imaginary unit had to talk about the imagining of rise of the spirit over the real numbers because definition based on square root of a negative number could ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Has any error ever been found in Euclid's elements?

Has any error ever been found in Euclid's elements since its publication? Or it is still perfect from the view point of modern mathematics.
0
votes
1answer
52 views

is there an objective basis for preferring place-value notation over other types of notation? [closed]

if asked why we prefer decimal notation over, say, Roman numerals, it is usual to say that we find place-value easier to work with. it seems this is often the justification people give ie a sort of ...
1
vote
1answer
97 views

is the decimal notation the “right” notation for arithmetic?

I am considering here the pre-decimal notations such as Roman numerals, Egyptian numerals etc. It seems reasonable that these must all be equivalent. And it seems that decimal notation (i.e. ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

History of $p$-adic numbers

I'm interested in learning about the historical motivation and development of $p$-adic numbers. I haven't been able to find any books on the topic. I'd appreciate any references, including to more ...
0
votes
2answers
90 views

Why do some sources call calculus, “the calculus”?

No need to cite specific sources since I think it's a fairly common thing to see. What's up with that? Thank you Edit: I've seen it in several places. Here's where I'm currently looking at it at: ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

About connection and topology

I'm looking for a good book (or article) about history of topology, and specially about the connection concept. I appreciate all your suggestions!!!
3
votes
0answers
104 views

History of a combinatoric problem: exchanging numbers by throwing stones

Another user recently asked a question on the Puzzling stack: Two spies throwing stones into a river. Suitably generalised, it becomes: Two spies (Alice and Bob) need to exchange a message. Each ...
0
votes
0answers
19 views

Homogeneous Spaces: The Erlangen Programme

This is a wholly a question of mathematics history. The Klein Erlangen programme is most pithily, if a little tersely, described in modern wording as a homogeneous space: a topological group acting ...
6
votes
1answer
54 views

Closed and Open Set - History of Terms

I know very little in the way of math history, but I question that was bothering me recently is where the terms open and closed came from in topology. I know that it's easy to ascribe a sense of ...
3
votes
0answers
91 views

In which field of science that we can prove $0! =1$ and what i can say to studentof high school if he asked about it's prove ?? [duplicate]

In mathematics there are some data , we have took them by convention and mathematics is not able to show us them proves , now want just to know if the "convention" term enough mathematics ...
9
votes
2answers
179 views

Newton's “Famous Blunder”?

On page $225$ of Isaac Newton on Mathematical Certainty and Method by Niccolo Guicciardini (see here for a link), I read In the following demonstration... Newton made a famous blunder... He wrote, ...
1
vote
0answers
45 views

Why are frames called “frames”?

Definition: A frame $F$ is a suplattice such that for any $x_{i}, y\in F$ (for $i\in I$, $I$ a set), we have $$y\wedge\left(\bigvee_{i\in I}x_i\right)=\bigvee_{i\in I}(y\wedge x_i).$$ Why are ...
13
votes
0answers
104 views

How and why did Weierstrass $\wp$ get its special symbol?

I kind of always hated drawing the Weierstrass $\wp$ symbol by hand, and it struck me as odd how and why it achieved its special status in the first place. After all, there are tons of other important ...
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Value of an elliptic integral of the first kind

The elliptic integral of the first kind $$ \int_0^{\pi/2}{\frac{du}{\sqrt{1-k^2\sin^2{u}}}} $$ cannot be expressed in terms of standard functions. But in the following context from The Pendulum by ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Reference Request: Nicole Oresme history

It says on Wikipedia that [Nicole Oresme] also worked on fractional powers, and the notion of probability over infinite sequences, ideas which would not be further developed for the next three and ...
1
vote
0answers
30 views

Corroboration of Weil anecdote

There is an anecdote at this comment: There is an urban legend on Weil that supposedly happened when Weil, Halmos and Mac Lane were all professors in Chicago during the notorious Stone age. Weil ...
2
votes
1answer
54 views

The term “Homotopy” was given by whom?

I want to know the names who define the term 'Homotopy' in algebraic topology in 1907. Are they Dehn and Paul Heegaard? What is the full name of Dehn? Thank you in advance.
2
votes
1answer
60 views

History of the Coefficients of Elliptic Curves — Why $a_6$? [duplicate]

I would like to know what is the motivation behind the naming convention of the Weierstrass form of elliptic curves given as $$E:y^2+a_1xy+a_3y=x^3+a_2x^2+a_4x+a_6.$$ I can see that $a_1,a_2,a_3,a_4$ ...
4
votes
5answers
407 views

How to defend Mathematics from “ignorant” people? [closed]

Some of my friends are blaming me to stop talking about and studying Math. But I love Math so much and I do Math almost everyday. The problem is that some of my friends told me "go and get a life". I ...
0
votes
0answers
127 views

What hints had John Nash to prove Riemann Hypothesis ?¿??

i have seen " A beatiful mind" and i have also read the book and sought in internet but i have not found how john nash wanted to prove Riemann Hypothesis by using Quantum mechanics or another method ...
6
votes
1answer
174 views

Chinese estimate for $\pi$. Were they lucky?

The famous chinese estimate $\pi\approx\frac{355}{113}$ is good. I think that is too good. As a continued fraction: $$\pi=[3:7,15,1,292,\ldots]$$ That $292$ is a bit too big. Is there a reason for a ...
8
votes
1answer
132 views

How did Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem affect the mathematical world?

Hi I am looking not to understand the Incompleteness Theorem, but to find out more about how and what this has effected the mathematics world. I am in high school, in Honors Algebra II, and I am ...
3
votes
2answers
59 views

How did Fourier arrive at the following regarding his series and coefficients?

I am reading Karen Saxe's "Beginning Functional Analysis." Perhaps it is poor exposition on her part, but she states: ...Fourier begins with an arbitrary function $f$ on the interval from $-\pi$ ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

History of terminology: sheaves, presheaves, etc.

I've been looking at some old notes (1970s) on Riemann surfaces, trying to match up terminology with modern definitions (at least going by Wikipedia). The notes use the same terms as Gunning's ...
9
votes
0answers
150 views

How does a Lehmer Sieve work?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehmer_sieve Apparently a Lehmer Sieve was a mechanical device that used chains and pulleys to factor numbers and solve diophantine equations. It once was able to factor ...
4
votes
2answers
78 views

How did self-similarity come into mathematics?

As far as I understand the interest in self-similarity was born outside of mathematics. The textbooks I came across give a few objects as examples (tree, broccoli, river, etc) yet it's clear that the ...