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
1answer
100 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
123 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
92 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
56 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!!!
4
votes
0answers
186 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
22 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
66 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
93 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
188 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
57 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 ...
16
votes
0answers
178 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
56 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
42 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
34 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
56 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
69 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
436 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
239 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
206 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
148 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
63 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
78 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
229 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
88 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
80 views

What did “logarithm” initially mean? [duplicate]

I just read that logarithms were not initially defined in terms of their inverse relationship to exponential functions (and that Euler was the first to develop them in this way). So how were they ...
5
votes
2answers
696 views

Why the name “square root”?

Why do we say that $\sqrt{a}$ is a square root of $a$? Is this because $\sqrt{a}$ is a root of the function $f(x)=x^2-a$? Cubic root similarly? Thanks in advance
30
votes
6answers
1k views

Why are integrals called integrals?

What is the historical background for this term? I cannot quite see what is integral about an integral, even if we go back to the viewing it as the area under a curve. It seems a strange choice of ...
1
vote
1answer
131 views

Why do different countries/regions have different methods of counting large numbers?

When we start counting large quantities of $10's$, the number system varies by country/region: Europe/US: $10^3$ (thousand, million, billion are all multiples of $10^3$) Japan/China/Korea: $10^4$ ...
6
votes
1answer
147 views

History of the terms “prime” and “irreducible” in Ring Theory.

In ring theory, a nonzero, nonunit element $p$ of a integral domain is called irreducible if $p=ab$ implies that exactly one of $a$ and $b$ is a unit, and it's called prime if $p\mid ab$ implies that ...
4
votes
2answers
174 views

Why did the ancients hate the Parallel Postulate?

I am reading this book, Gödel's Proof, by James R. Newman, at location 117 (Kindle), it says, For various reasons, this axiom, (through a point outside a given line only one parallel to the line ...
11
votes
3answers
726 views

History of notation: “!”

Does anyone know where the factorial "!" symbol came from? I can't decide if it is my favorite or least favorite notation in mathematics...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

Translation of Paolo Ruffini's work on Galois theory

Paolo Ruffini famously wrote a work providing the first proof of the unsolvability of the quintic with the extraordinary title "Teoria Generale delle Equazioni, in cui si dimostra impossibile la ...
2
votes
0answers
44 views

Which came first, energy minimization or pde?

I'm interested in a historical perspective on pde. I would like to know more about the original derivation of pde. It seems like d'Alembert was working on the one dimensional wave equation $$ ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

How did Napier rounded his logarithms?

How did Napier round his logarithms? Wikipedia says: By repeated subtractions Napier calculated $(1 − 10^{−7})^L$ for $L$ ranging from 1 to 100. The result for $L=100$ is approximately $0.99999 = ...
3
votes
3answers
103 views

Colloquialisms in Math Terminology

What are some of your favorite colloquial sounding names for mathematical objects, proofs, and so on? For example, manifolds are often described using an atlas and a neighborhood describes a small ...
3
votes
1answer
52 views

Why half coversed or coversed trigonometric functions are being deprecated?

As you can see here there are some names for some trigonometric functions that I can't find in any text or math related papers today. In my opinion this kind of approach will also make it easier to ...
2
votes
1answer
111 views

Reference Request - Early Calculus Papers

Question: I am looking for good references on the early calculus papers. Optimally, I want emphasis on the mathematics itself and I want that mathematics to be translated into modern terminology and ...
0
votes
0answers
22 views

How well-known are these contra-Bernoulli inequalities?

The standard and extremely useful Bernoulli inequality states that $(1+x)^n \ge 1+nx$ for positive integer $n$ and $x \ge 0$. I have needed an inequality of the form $(1+x)^n \le 1+c(n)x$ where $x$ ...
1
vote
2answers
103 views

What's the intuition behind definition of chaotic function?

I read books A First Course in Discrete Dynamical Systems by Richard A. Holmgren and An Introduction to Chaotic Dynamical Systems by Robert L. Devaney. I want to understand which concepts of "chaos" ...
3
votes
0answers
132 views

History of “Math is an Art” [closed]

For all its elegance I cannot bring myself to the conclusion that math is a form of art. As shown on the wikipedia page there is certainly math in art and art in math but what I wonder is how the ...
1
vote
3answers
103 views

Mathematical logic and foundations of mathematics in the 20th century

I would like some references regarding the foundations of mathematics in the 20th century, and mathematical logic, e.g. (1) I want to understand what happened to the foundation, what originated the ...
4
votes
1answer
223 views

What is “Bourbaki's style in mathematics”?

I know Nicolas Bourbaki "is the pseudonym of a group of (mainly) French mathematicians who publish an authoritative account of contemporary mathematics." But what characterizes "Bourbaki's style in ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

Infinite Product Identity for Hyperbolic Sine

Prove $\prod_{n\in\mathbb{N}\backslash\left\{ 0\right\} }\left(1+\left(\frac{\alpha}{\pi n}\right)^{2}\right)=\frac{\sinh\left(\alpha\right)}{\alpha}$. I saw this formula in a book and have no idea ...
5
votes
2answers
199 views

In Whitehead and Russell's PM, does not identity imply existance?

At the end of ✳96.48, $ \sim(w=\overset{\smile}{R}‘max_R‘J_R‘x)$ is chosen over $ w\neq\overset{\smile}{R}‘max_R‘J_R‘x$, on account of the latter's implication of existence. But ✳13.02 states that ...
2
votes
1answer
93 views

Differences in how mathematical results are proved in the time of Euclid and in the twentieth century [closed]

What is the difference in the manner demonstrated in Euclidean time and as demonstrated in the twentieth century?
4
votes
0answers
76 views

Origin of the family name de l'Hôpital? [closed]

The "de" is because he was a nobleman. The circumflex accent is to show that in Old French, there was an s, so that the word is clearly "hospital." But is it known why his family was called that? ...
14
votes
2answers
734 views

Why is analysis called “analysis”?

Just as the topic says, how did the name "analysis" come to denote the specific mathematical branch dealing with limits and stuff? The term "analysis" seems very generic compared to the words for the ...
9
votes
1answer
197 views

Ramanujan's personification of small positive integers

I dimly recall reading somewhere (perhaps in "The Man Who Knew Infinity"?) that Ramanujan associated personalities (perhaps it was mystical personalities, e.g. specific gods and goddesses?) with small ...
2
votes
1answer
93 views

The meaning of Differentials in Integration

This is further to the questions discussed in a previous post Here is an example of what I mean: Suppose that $C$ is a closed path in the plane and consider the line integral of $xy\,dx+x^2\,dy$ over ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Fibonacci's proof that $x^3+2x^2+10x=20$ has no solution in radicals?

I read on a poster today that Fibonacci showed that $x^3+2x^2+10x=20$ has no solution expressible in radicals, way back when. I couldn't find the proof anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find it? ...