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

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In Whitehead&Russell's PM, What is $\max_p$'s converse domain?

Here is the definition of upper limit. If I'm not mistaken, $\max_P$'s converse domain is the universal set $V$. The definition appears to be limiting the converse domain of $\operatorname{seq}_P$ ...
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137 views

Motivating mathematics(particularly algebraic number theory) through historical problems.

Most mathematical textbooks start a subject by going backwards, historically. They will define the terms that were invented to solve a problem in their polished form and then use these definitions and ...
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133 views

History of category theory

I am searching some information about the origins of the category theory. Anyone know where can I read about those topics? Thanks!
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35 views

first example of backwards induction?

In Mathematics Magazine 28(1954/55), 21-46, Richard Bellman presents a proof for the theorem which says that the geometric mean of $n$ numbers is always not greater than the arithmetic mean: the proof ...
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38 views

recommend me some texts on the history of the non-western mathematics

I would like to self study the detailed history of the non-western mathematics. I have started the literature of Barton (7th Ed.) but it primarily concentrated on Western and American Mathematics. ...
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1k views

What is the meaning of set-theoretic notation {}=0 and {{}}=1?

I'm told by very intelligent set-theorists that 0={} and 1={{}}. First and foremost I'm not saying that this is false, I'm just a pretty dumb and stupid fellow who can't handle this concept in his ...
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40 views

Determinant - derivation of the general formula and its history [duplicate]

I know the formula for calculating matrix determinant. What's I'm wondering is where did that general formula come from? And why determinants are so important? Obviously they are useful in finding ...
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93 views

Origin and usage of $\therefore$ and $\because$

I've recently read a book which used the sign $\therefore$ (for "therefore"). It was more or less clear from the context what was meant, but I looked it up among the AMS LaTeX symbols just to be ...
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30 views

Areas of Nice Shapes known to Greeks

The Greeks had known how to find the areas of a triangle, rectangle, circle etc., and possibly, Archimedes invented these formulas. Recently, I read that given a parabola in a plane and a line ...
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24 views

How has the definition of a tensor changed since Tullio Levi-Civita's definition?

To get a good grounding in tensors, I'm reading the book *The Absolute Differential Calculus (Calculus of Tensors) (Dover Books on Mathematics) Paperback by Tullio Levi-Civita. I'll then move on to a ...
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160 views

Which hot math research fields became insignificant later on?

In history (for last 150 years), which math research fields were hot (popular) at their time , but whose results became insignificant (almost useless) later on? The reason I ask this question is ...
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68 views

What was babylonians estimation for square root 3?

We see a lot of papers and talk about ancient Babylonians exactness of calculating the value of square root of 2. For example: ...
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3k views

Why is an image called an “image”?

Given a function $f : A \to B$, the image, denoted by $\operatorname{Im}f$ is the set of all $f(x)$ where $x \in A$. Why do we call this set the image? When was it first used, and what motivated its ...
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Math symbol in German thesis from 1963

I have the following math symbol in a German thesis written in 1963. Is it anything more than just a function name? It is used in the following context and then goes on to state that "If the ...
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51 views

In Whitehead and Russell's PM, are homogenous relations the only ones that have relation numbers?

Given the definition of ordinal similarity: ✳151.01 $P \overline{smor} Q = \hat{S}\{ S\in 1\rightarrow 1. C‘Q=ConverseD‘S. P=S^;Q\}$ Df. $Q$ has to be homogeneous, otherwise $C‘Q$ is meaningless. ...
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55 views

History of Mathematical Formulas

I just wondered why in calculating something for example Variance we square the difference of the value and its Arithmetic Mean and do not take the absolute value of the difference? Are there books or ...
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2k views

What is the motivation for quaternions?

I know imaginary numbers solve $x^2 +1=0$, but what is the motivation for quaternions?
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147 views

Example of a proof using the axiom of commensurability

I'm teaching our intro to proofs course (well, one of them) and one of the classic illustrations of an overturned "axiom" is the Greek axiom of commensurability, which stated in geometric terms the ...
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2answers
67 views

Hilbert's construction of multiplication of two numbers

I am now reading Hilbert's "Foundations of Geometry", section 15, where he describes there a geometric way to construct, given two segments of length $a$ and $b$, a segment of length $ab$ (in short: ...
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91 views

Why $1\frac{1}{2}\ne \frac{1}{2}$?

Why mathematicians have chosen notation such that in algebra $1\frac{1}{2}=\frac{3}{2}$ but $x\frac{y}{z}=\frac{xy}{z}$, instead of $x\frac{y}{z}=\frac{xz+y}{z}$?
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392 views

What is the history behind the development of the term “coefficient”? [closed]

Why are coefficients called "coefficients"? For example I learned that squaring a number is called "squaring" because it actually refers to "making a square". That's how it was developed. ...
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77 views

Spherical geometry as an example of non euclidean geometry

I have recently been learning some hyperbolic geometry and the professor briefly mentioned spherical geometry. From a modern, naive point of view, it seems quite easy to show that spherical geometry ...
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84 views

What's so special about binomial coefficients that someone decided to organize them in a triangle?

I know that binomial coefficients are related to figurate numbers (which were studied by Greeks a loooong time ago, because of its connections to geometry). I also understand how the Pascal's triangle ...
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325 views

Examples of advancement in mathematics due to war

It's not a lie that, in most sciences, some of their advancement comes from war. A couple examples would be the Haber process in chemistry and none other than the Manhattan Project in both physics and ...
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108 views

Any book on major (recent) math discovery (results) in an easy understanding way?

All: Can anyone recommend a book which illustrate major (recent) math discoveries (results) in an easy understanding way ? For "recent discoveries", I meaning something discovered in last 50 years. ...
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82 views

Why are normal subgroups called “Normal”?

Why are normal subgroups called "Normal"? Who is credited with naming them, and why are they named such?
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48 views

Who first proved that every triangle has a circumscribed circle?

Wikipedia only mentions that it follows from the Cartesian equation for a circle: $\left(x - a \right)^2 + \left( y - b \right)^2=r^2$ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumscribed_circle#cite_note-1 ...
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60 views

How is Cartesian coordinate system related to his philosophy

In 1637, Rene Descartes published his famous monograph about philosophy "Discourse on the Method of reasoning well and Seeking Truth in the Sciences", and analytic method of geometry has been come up ...
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115 views

Who first studied semilattices?

Historically, who first studied semilattices, as opposed to lattices or Boolean algebras? (With or without identity, I do not mind.)
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Decoding Gauss' Easter Algorithm

In 1800, Gauss published this algorithm for computing the date of Easter in a given year $year$: $a = year \mod 19$ $b = year \mod 4$ $c = year \mod 7$ $k = \lfloor year/100 \rfloor$ $p ...
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2answers
102 views

Prove withoui calculus: the integral of 1/x is logarithmic

It was known in the 17th century that the function $$ t \mapsto \int_{1}^{t} \frac{dx}{x} $$ is logarithmic: a geometric sequence in the domain produces an arithmetic sequence in the codomain. This ...
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7answers
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What is the oldest open problem in geometry?

Geometry is one of the oldest branches of mathematics, and many famous problems have been proposed and solved in its long history. What I would like to know is: What is the oldest open problem in ...
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86 views

Who first discovered that some R.E. sets are not recursive?

Who first discovered that some recursively enumerable sets are not recursive, or equivalently that some semidecidable sets are undecidable? And in what context? Was the earliest formulation of this ...
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273 views

What meaning did Riemann assign to $dx$?

Detlef Laugwitz wrote a monumental biography of Riemann. The book was translated into English by Shenitzer. Laugwitz discusses Riemann's fundamental essay Uber die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie ...
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Who are some blind or otherwise disabled mathematicians who have made important contributions to mathematics?

Two prominent mathematicians who were disabled in ways which would have made it difficult to work were Lev Pontryagin and Solomon Lefschetz. Pontryagin was blind as a result of a stove explosion at ...
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91 views

Ancient calculus or thorough observation

Integration. It's the simplest way on earth with which we can derive any formula like surface area or volume of symmetrical shapes and solids (square, circle, cube etc.). But what I've been hearing is ...
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Why is the argument of a complex number measured anticlockwise (from the positive real axis), rather than clockwise?

I was going through some basic examples of complex numbers (finding the argument and modulus) with my brother yesterday, and he asked Why is the argument measured anticlockwise rather than ...
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244 views

History of the matrix representation of complex numbers

It is well-known to many that $\mathbb{C}$ can be represented by matrices of the form $\left[ \begin{array}{cc} a & b \\ -b & a \end{array} \right]$. For example, see this question or this ...
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52 views

Origin of the Name 'Chernoff Sequence'

I discovered the Chernoff Sequence, $A006939$ while thinking about recreating the divisibility of $12$ and $360$. I was actually surprised to see that it already existed, and it caught my attention. ...
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303 views

A question regarding ❋166.44 in Whitehead & Russell's Principia Mathematica

In the first step of Dem, I wonder how $\Sigma ‘\times P^{;}Q$ is transformed into $\Sigma‘ \Sigma^;(P \overset{\downarrow}{.,})\dagger^; Q$. Thanks,
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161 views

History of the power of a point with respect to a circle

There is a concept of a "power of a point with respect to a circle". If one has a point which is distance $d$ away from the centre of some circle and that circle has radius $r$ then the power of this ...
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507 views

Where does the “Visual Multiplication” technique originate from?

There is a geometric technique to perform multiplication of numbers. But as the internet goes, it is hard to figure out who deserves the credit. What I've heard is A mayan technique From Vedic ...
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29 views

Source for original article by Euler

I am looking for Euler's article E19, namely E19 De progressionibus transcendentibus, seu quarum termini generales algebraice dari nequeunt. Auct. L. Eulero. The terms of the sequence given by ux = ...
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129 views

Why does the sign $\times$ vanish in mathematical expressions?

I just would like to know whether or not there exists an historical reason to prefer the expression $a b$ to $a \times b$. Why does the sign $\times$ vanish (whereas $+$ stays)? I thought that ...
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96 views

What is the reason to introduce and study logarithmic functions?

I don't understand why logarithms exist when we have exponential functions. Exponential functions seem to be an easier and less convoluted way to write something. Why invent logarithms to do something ...
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155 views

Mathematical proof for order of operations

I was watching this YouTube video and at around 40:40 the speaker himself states that he does not know why we have the order of operations we have today. This got me thinking and I realize that I ...
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835 views

In what ways has physics spurred the invention of new mathematical tools?

I came across this comment: Mathematical rigor is not a criterion that physicists have for evaluating their theories. From a mathematical perspective, the non-rigorous theories are far more ...
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166 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, ...
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88 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 ...
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167 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 ...