Tagged Questions

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

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-2
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0answers
42 views

Why is the natural logarithm 'natural'? [duplicate]

Simple question: Why is it that the natural logarithm is called 'natural'?
1
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1answer
25 views

Where did the sum-of-divisors function come from?

Doing a research project on a few number-theoretic functions, and I was curious, where does the sum-of-divisors function come from? Surely someone thought it up and made it a possibility. I'm talking ...
5
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0answers
28 views

How are Hilbert Space methods used in number theory?

In N. Young's book "An introduction to Hilbert Space," there is an interlude in which the author remarks that the theory of Hilbert spaces is "routinely used in differential geometry, complex ...
4
votes
2answers
97 views

Etymology of “flabby” or “flasque” sheaf

I just started working with flasque, or flabby sheaves, that is sheaves whose restriction maps are surjective for any two open set of the space. I wonder about the etymology of the term. In French, ...
7
votes
1answer
52 views

Newton's way of getting a Taylor expansion

I don't understand how Newton find the Taylor expansion of $\frac{a^2}{b+x}$ by the following method : **This screenshot is from : The method of fluxions and infinite series Any idea ?
1
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3answers
46 views

How come leap years don't occur on years divisible by 100 that aren't divisible by 400? [closed]

I read this and I was surprised that years like 1900 and 1400, which aren't divisible by 400, aren't leap years, even though they are divisible by four. I wonder when this started happening on years ...
1
vote
1answer
41 views

How did Fourier series lead to the development of rigorous analysis?

Once I've heard that the studies of Fourier series have lead to rigorous definitions of such concepts as function, convergence, integral, limit. And also that Cantor's study of Fourier series led him ...
6
votes
3answers
157 views

Mathematical results that were generally accepted but later proven wrong?

I am giving a presentation on mathematical results that were widely accepted for a period of time and then later proven wrong, or vice versa. This talk is geared towards undergraduates who are likely ...
1
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0answers
27 views

Why real variable methods can take place of complex variable methods in harmonic analysis' research?

We know that one complex variable methods have been largely used in the early research of harmonic analysis. But, as is known to me, there is much difficulty when mathematicians attempt to generalize ...
3
votes
1answer
85 views

What is the incorrect proof by Euler that $\pi = 0$ (or something like that)?

I seem to remember a proof by Euler, involving infinite series, which was really complex (for a maths hobbyist). I believe it was sent in a letter to someone, and that it ended up with $\pi = 0$ or ...
0
votes
1answer
32 views

Discovering the mathematical nature of Nature - Galileo's inclined plane experiment

In 1638 Galileo published Two New Sciences, in which he described his inclined plane experiment. He discovered that the acceleration of gravity was uniform, and could be modeled mathematically by the ...
2
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0answers
42 views

Pell's Equation and the Pigeon Hole Principle

David Speyer gave a beautiful application of the pigeon hole principle here to show that Pell's equation $$x^2-Dy^2=1$$ has infinitely many integral solutions. I was wondering if anybody knows the ...
30
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1answer
414 views

What did mathematicians study as an undergraduate/graduate before modern mathematics such as modern algebra and analysis?

I am curious as to what mathematicians such as Leibnitz and Gauss and the Bernoulli's studied when they were students in university. I find it fascinating how we are taught calculus and abstract ...
2
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1answer
29 views

Different proofs for two squares theorem for primes

There is a proof of two squares theorem for primes of form $4k+1$ from quadratic forms and there is a proof from Bolyai using Gaussian integers. I am reasonably sure such a nice simple statement has ...
-1
votes
0answers
64 views

What actually happened to Cantor? [on hold]

I saw this answer and its comments while browsing Math SE, and it made me tempted to ask: What actually happened to Cantor? Did he really, as it's usually claimed, be called blasphemous and ridiculed ...
10
votes
0answers
122 views

Why is $J$ sometimes used to denote $\mathbb{Z}_{>0}$?

In older books, such as Rudin's Principles of Mathematical Analysis and Herstein's Topics in Algebra, I've noticed that authors tended to use $J$ to denote $\mathbb{Z}_{>0}$. Does anyone have any ...
4
votes
2answers
110 views

What happens to a great mathematician's unpublished works when they die?

When a great mathematician dies, they often leave plenty of unpublished and incomplete works in their manuscripts. As we assumed that they were a really good mathematician, most of the ideas in these ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

Name for LDC: Lebesgue?

Is there also a name associated to the Lebesgue dominated convergence theorem like Beppo-Levi or Fatou? Would Lebesgue be reasonable? Who did originally prove it?
1
vote
2answers
163 views

Friends and Enemies of Infinities [closed]

Infinity is a dividing line in the community of mathematicians. There is a long standing contest between those who believe in rich theory of infinite mathematics and large infinite numbers and those ...
81
votes
3answers
5k views

A 1,400 years old approximation to the sine function by Mahabhaskariya of Bhaskara I

The approximation $$\sin(x) \simeq \frac{16 (\pi -x) x}{5 \pi ^2-4 (\pi -x) x}\qquad (0\leq x\leq\pi)$$ was proposed by Mahabhaskariya of Bhaskara I, a seventh-century Indian mathematician. I ...
29
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4answers
2k views

“Stick it to the man!” Mathematical discoveries that resulted in persecution.

As the old story goes, Pythagoras and his followers were adamant that all numbers were rational, until Hippasus came along and proved that $\sqrt{2}$ (the length of the diagonal of the unit square) is ...
2
votes
4answers
171 views

Theorems in number theory whose first proofs were long and difficult

What are the examples of important theorems of number theory that has been shown to have surprisingly simple proofs though their first demonstration wasn't at all simple enough. Now simple proof is an ...
2
votes
0answers
38 views

Some Logo and Stamp on Mathematics and Mathematicians

I don't know whether this question is allowed to post of stackexchange, but I don't know other any other so good sources of mathematics community other than this website. I also thought that the ...
72
votes
15answers
9k views
+400

Do mathematicians, in the end, always agree?

I've been trying to study some different sciences in my life, ranging from biology to mathematics, and if I try to explain to people why I like mathematics above the others, I think the most important ...
1
vote
0answers
18 views

The name of $fusc$ (Calkin-Wilf sequence)

I was just wondering where $fusc$ got its name (where $fusc(2n) = fusc(n), fusc(2n + 1) = fusc(n) + fusc(n + 1)$, seeds: $fusc(0) = 0, fusc(1) = 1$). The function is of some importance in the ...
1
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0answers
34 views

Are there any functions which were proposed as elementary by mathematicians but not considered elementary now?

Are there any functions which were proposed by various mathematicians to be included in the set of elementary functions because of their properties but not considered elementary as of now?
0
votes
1answer
32 views

Diophantus problem

I was given following problem as an example of early mathematics with the solutions. But it seems i can't understand from where they are getting the 35z^2 = 5 from in the solutions. Could someone ...
2
votes
0answers
91 views

The history of summations

How did summations evolve? For instance, is there an article, book, webpage, etc. that talks about how mathematicians came up with using $\sum_x{ f(x) }$? I'm very interested on how summations came ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

In Whitehead & Russell's PM, if $P$ is an infinite well-ordered series, can $P$ have a last term?

If I'm not mistaken, $B‘\overset{\smile}{P}$ is the last term of $P$. If it does not exist, there is no need to put ~$(B‘\overset{\smile}{P}) \in C‘∇‘P $ in the hypothesis. Chances are I missed ...
3
votes
1answer
48 views

Some questions on the formation of the BSD conjecture

I'm quite curious how Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer formed their famous conjecture in the beginning of 1960s. I read some paper of Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer, as well as some paper of Tate and several ...
2
votes
3answers
112 views

In Whitehead & Russell's PM, does every Series contain a $P_1$ (immedeately precedes)?

✳204.7 $\vdash: P \in Ser .\supset. P_1 \in 1 \rightarrow 1$ Which says if $P$ is a series, then $P_1$ is one-one. ✳201.63 $\vdash: P \in trans \cap Rl‘J .\supset. P_1 = P \overset{.}{-}P^2$ ...
5
votes
1answer
88 views

History of the three “impossible” compass-and-straightedge problems

I'm preparing a presentation about constructible numbers and I wanted to know some of the history about it to motivate the topic. I wanted to know if the classical Greek problems (doubling the cube, ...
1
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0answers
52 views

A finite generalization of differentials and weird 'modular like mathematical space'?

So basically, in trying to make sense of a certain math aspect of a thermodynamic problem (how to manipulate differentials) I end up reading this ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

Definition of a function and the notation $f:A\to B$.

In some textbooks on analysis, I have encountered a definition of function/mapping that distinguishes the terminology mapping on $A$ to $B$ and mapping from $A$ to $B$; the first one refers to a ...
0
votes
2answers
139 views

Shape made by Beltrami

Beltrami made (out of thin paper or stiff cloth) a model of a surface of constant negative Gauss curvature. The original might have resembled a large saddle shaped Pringles chip, and frills might have ...
6
votes
0answers
120 views

Isaac Newton did number theory?!

I was reading Whiteside's article called "Newton the Mathemtician", where he says that Newton did Number Theory (e.g. inverstigating which numbers are expressible as a sum of two cubes). If this is ...
2
votes
0answers
45 views

Historical motivation for Hilbert's Third problem

What was the historical motivation for Hilbert's third problem? Why did Hilbert feel it was worthy of including on his published list? Hilbert's Third problem: Say that two polyhedra are scissors ...
1
vote
0answers
34 views

$A(x+p)²-B(x-p)²=y$, historical/math reference

I'm trying to build a reminder of all that I found about the quadratic function over the years. Here I came across this form of quadratic equation that I did not know: A(x+p)²-B(x-p)²=y I have no ...
0
votes
2answers
84 views

Does axiom of foundation/regularity protect against Russell-like paradoxes?

In ZF set theory the axiom of regularity (also called axiom of foundation) says that: In all nonempty sets x there is an element y such that x∩y=∅ As I been told that the intention of the axiom ...
8
votes
1answer
46 views

Geometry and land

The word "geometry" in Greek means "measurement of Earth/land". This may imply that geometry was originally invented in order to solve problems related to land. Are there historical accounts of ...
10
votes
4answers
115 views

What is a good book, or article, that explains the history of fourier analysis?

What is a good book on the history of Fourier Analysis? I'm looking for a book which explains how it came to be and what the mathematicians (or physicists) were thinking when they came up with it. If ...
8
votes
4answers
115 views

Which was defined first to represent $\underbrace{a+a+a+\cdots+a+a+a}_{n \text{ terms}}$? $n\times a$ or $a \times n$?

When we are talking about multiplication, we often use it without knowing which one was defined first and which one was defined because of its commutative property. Here I want to know which one was ...
0
votes
2answers
75 views

How did Newton calculate 3x7 by logarithm?

This is a story about Newton I read once when I was a child. Now that book is lost and I can only tell you what I remember. When Newton was young, he had been already famous in curiosity and ...
0
votes
0answers
67 views

Hard-to-put-together but easy-to-prove results

What are the most important examples of theorems and definitions which are post factum obvious, i.e., hard to put together but easy to understand and use (and prove, in the case of theorems) once you ...
3
votes
2answers
173 views

What does it mean by acta?

There are a lot math journals with title "acta" includes, for instance, Acta Mathematica, acta arithmetica, etc. Would you explain what "acta" means?
2
votes
0answers
42 views

Where do divisors on curves come from?

I've been learning about Riemann surfaces and the Riemann-Roch theorem, and I've been able to experience some of its great power. However, I'm curious as to what the history behind divisors on curves ...
3
votes
0answers
38 views

Cambridge Maths Tripos Papers

Does anyone know where I can find Cambridge Maths Tripos Papers for the 1980s?
8
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0answers
82 views

$\sin$ vs. $sin$ - history and usage

One thing newcomers to TeX or MathJax often get wrong is that they write something like $sin(x)$ instead of $\sin(x)$ - the point being that common mathematical functions with names consisting of ...
4
votes
0answers
65 views

math historian who don't belong to academia

Is there examples of math historian who don't belong to academia? Is it possible for professionally non-academician to perform good work in the field of the history of mathematics and publish? Does ...
0
votes
0answers
52 views

When do two points coincide in euclidean geometry?

The 4° common notion in the Elements of Euclid says: "Things which coincide with one another equal one another". Many authors have interpreted this sentence as a principle of superposition that could ...