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

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Functions of Matrices History

I'm currently looking for some books or papers that talk about the history of the functions of matrices. Specifically, I'm looking for the history regarding sine and cosine of a matrix. I've already ...
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A thought on Ancient Math

Is there a good site that I can see/ learn all the great work of mathematicians from all over the world? I am interested in reading those ancient book in a modern language. Suggestion? "Knowledge of ...
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4answers
684 views

Was there anybody before Cantor who conjectured existence of infinities of different sizes?

Georg Cantor is formally known as the first one who discovered existence of infinities of different sizes. But the history of thinking about the concept of "infinity" in maths and philosophy goes back ...
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1answer
58 views

Why is the nuclear norm called so?

A simple question. Why is the sum of the singular values of a matrix called its nuclear norm? What is the origin of, and motivation for, this term? Apparently the term nucleus is sometimes used to ...
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8answers
326 views

What are the theorems in mathematics which can proved using completely different ideas?

I know this question can have many answers. But I would like to know about theorems which can give completely different proofs. For example: When I read from the book Proof from the ...
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0answers
103 views

Who first proved Fermat's Last Theorem for polynomials and when?

Who first proved Fermat's Last Theorem for polynomials and when? I have a proof using the Mason-Stothers Theroem, but the result is much older. Does anyone know the original proof or prover? Or at ...
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1answer
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Open and closed localization of sheaves

In this paper: http://www-math.mit.edu/~hrm/papers/ss.pdf the author claims that Leray originally developed sheaves over closed sets rather than open sets and that it was Cartan who later realized ...
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1answer
159 views

Ramanujan's False Claims

"During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3900 results (mostly identities and equations). Nearly all his claims have now been proven correct, although a small number of these ...
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22answers
18k views

Examples of mathematical discoveries which were kept as a secret

There could be several personal, social, philosophical and even political reasons to keep a mathematical discovery as a secret. For example it is completely expected that if some mathematician find ...
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The Largest Gaps in the History of Mathematics

Edit: Based on the useful comments below. I edited the original post in order to seek for other important historical gaps in mathematics. Mathematics is full of the historical gaps. The first type ...
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2answers
101 views

Widespread, persistent mathematical disagreement?

My question is related to this one about whether mathematicians always ultimately agree, with a slight variation. I'm curious not whether mathematicians always ultimately agree, but whether there are ...
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0answers
104 views

History of the neusis construction of cube roots?

A simple neusis (marked ruler) construction of $\sqrt[3]{2}$ is given in many places, for example wikipedia. My question is: what is the history of this construction? As far as I can determine, all ...
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3answers
59 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 ...
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106 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 analysis, ...
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2answers
159 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, ...
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1answer
84 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 ?
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3answers
54 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 ...
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1answer
64 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 ...
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3answers
264 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 ...
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1answer
60 views

Why can real variable methods 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 (real variable) harmonic analysis. But, as is known to me, there is much difficulty when mathematicians ...
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1answer
128 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 ...
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1answer
42 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 ...
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0answers
92 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 ...
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1answer
684 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 ...
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1answer
35 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 ...
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0answers
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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 ...
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2answers
134 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 ...
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1answer
45 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?
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3answers
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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 ...
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“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 ...
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4answers
189 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 ...
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0answers
49 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 ...
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16answers
10k views

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 ...
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0answers
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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 ...
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0answers
42 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?
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1answer
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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 ...
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0answers
145 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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
64 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 ...
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3answers
142 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 $\vdash: P \in trans \cap Rl‘J .\supset. P_1 = P \overset{.}{-}P^2$ ...
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1answer
140 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, ...
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1answer
62 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 ...
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2answers
173 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 ...
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1answer
271 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 ...
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0answers
65 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 ...
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0answers
48 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 ...
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2answers
104 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 ...
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1answer
55 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 ...
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137 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 ...
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126 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 ...