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

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Math Mindeset: Historical Learning vs Generality of Concepts

I started math four months ago with modules like measure theory and topology. It was unavoidable to notice how many concepts are more general than what I thought before. For example the ...
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1answer
154 views

Why is it called 'discrete' mathematics?

I understand why you would refer to mathematics which concerns itself with all of the numbers on the number line as 'continuous' but why would you refer to countable or finite mathematics as ...
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4answers
224 views

What is the difference between asserting “$\phi(a)$” and asserting “$\phi(a)$ is true” in Whitehead and Russell's PM?

The first edition of Principia Mathematica clearly distinguishes "Socrates is a man" and "'Socrates is a man' is true." Judging from the context, the distinction is neither a primitive idea nor a ...
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0answers
296 views

Is there any English version of Récoltes et Semailles?

I felt like my question isn't appropriate for MO, so I though maybe I should post it here. I want to read Alexander Grothendieck's "Récoltes et Semailles", but I don't know any French. I can easily ...
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98 views

How can I find who discovered this integral?

I need to find the first paper/author to document this integral $$\int\log^nx\;\mathrm dx=(-1)^n\;\Gamma(n+1,-\log x)\quad n\in\Bbb N_0$$ To prevent this in the future, is there a service in which I ...
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2answers
261 views

Origin of the modern definition of the tensor product

Due to whom is the modern (i.e. via its universal property) definition of the tensor product, and in which article was it communicated?
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57 views

Historical question about irrationals.

Which beliefs of the Pythagoreans were invalidated by the discovery of irrationals?
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88 views

Is the construction of $\mathbb{R}$ by Cauchy sequences due to Cauchy? For that matter, are Cauchy sequences due to Cauchy?

A little bit of cursory searching around on Wikipedia reveals only that Cauchy sequences are named after Cauchy—but I already knew that.
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History of incenter and Euler line

It is easy to see that if a triangle is isosceles, then its incenter lies on its Euler line. Who first proved the converse of this result and what technique was used? (See the post "The incenter and ...
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263 views

Cantor and a paradox of naive set theory [closed]

He was the creator of set theory. Did he recognize a paradox of the naive set theory? In other words, did he recognize that the naive set theory leads to a contradiction?
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1answer
182 views

What was the planned topic of Gödel's second paper on incompleteness?

Gödel's incompleteness theorems first appeared together in a paper titled (translated to English) "On formally undecidable propositions of Principia Mathematica and related systems I," with the Roman ...
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1answer
74 views

Measure and Probability

Can someone tell me that how did the idea to relate measure and probability come?(What's the conceptual history of measure and probability?)
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5answers
579 views

Why are second-order 'things' studied so much in mathematics?

In many areas of math, I've been surprised at how much research, past and present, focuses on second order 'things'. Examples: Number theory: quadratic reciprocity, quadratic number fields Analysis: ...
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2answers
334 views

Fundamental theorem of linear algebra

When I studied linear algebra we (our books, our professors) used to call Fundamental theorem of linear algebra the theorem that says: Fundamental theorem of linear algebra: A linear ...
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4answers
178 views

The origin of the function $f(x)$ notation

What are the historical origins of the $f(x)$ notation used for functions? That is when did people start to use this notation instead of just thinking in terms of two different variables one being ...
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1answer
174 views

How does Schröder explain the apparent oddity of ❋5.11.12.13.14 in 1st ed of Whitehead and Russell's PM?

The footnote refers to Schröder's work. I'd appreciate if someone can explain Schroder's insights and spare me some hard reading.
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1answer
103 views

History of the point at infinity?

I'm curious to learn more about the history of the introduction of the concept of the point at infinity into mathematics. The sum of my knowledge of the historical aspect is from this paragraph (which ...
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2answers
196 views

How to prove ❋4.86 in 1st ed of Whitehead and Russell's PM?

This one has a great degree of self-evidence. Paradoxically, I find it difficult to deduce it from primitive propositions. The book only hinted ❋4.21 and ❋4.22.
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1answer
117 views

unique factorisation fails for cyclotomic integers $p>23$

Background: I have stopped doing algebra a long time ago and I am not that interested in the nitty-gritty details of proofs, but I am interested in maths history. ...
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2answers
281 views

Motivation for introducing algebraic topology?

What kind of topological questions does algebraic topology answer where point set topology is not enough? Phrased differently: Where is the line (or maybe intersection) between point set topology ...
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1answer
120 views

The average of the roots of a polynomial equals the average of the roots of its derivative

Background: It's straightforward to check that the average (i.e. the mean) of the roots of a nonlinear polynomial equals the average of the roots of its derivative: if $$f(x) = x^n + a_{n-1} x^{n-1} ...
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3answers
88 views

Swapping Theorems with definitions

My question is motivated from the following passage of Gian-Carlo Rota's Indiscrete Thoughts, 'Suppose you are given two formal presentations of the same mathematical theory. The definitions of the ...
10
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5answers
539 views

What are reasons why some symbols in mathematical logic are not standardized?

Why is so hard to find a standardisation regarding symbolism and/or terminology in Mathematical Logic ? We see again and again students asking if e.g. $\rightarrow$ and $\implies$ means the same ...
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97 views

the word “derivative”

When did the word "derivative" come into use in calculus, and why? As in Can the word "derive" be used to mean "take the derivative of"? the word "derivative" in normal English ...
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0answers
69 views

Is there a link between level of abstraction and use of numbers?

One of my friend who stopped studying maths in high school told me once You study maths, can you help me fill my tax forms? In her mind, advancing in maths studies implied manipulating an ...
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1answer
112 views

Does Whitehead and Russells' PM distinguish Proof from Demonstration?

I'm currently at Chapter 4, vol. 1 and 1st ed. I have to ask this question because the most important thing about this book is in its minute details. Thanks. Take *3.3 for example. Acording to this ...
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0answers
124 views

What makes Beal's conjecture “beautiful” enough to make people offer a million dollar prize? [closed]

What makes Beal's conjecture "beautiful" enough to make people offer a million dollar prize? Is it just a challenge or does it have real applications?
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3answers
579 views

Why are compact sets called “compact” in topology?

Given a topological space $X$ and a subset of it $S$, $S$ is compact iff for every open cover of $S$, there is a finite subcover of $S$. Just curiosity: I've done some search in Internet why compact ...
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0answers
68 views

Mathematical journals (maybe in the past) with regular competitions?

I just finished reading Yōko Ogawa's "The Housekeeper and the Professor". One of the main characters - "the professor" - is a retired mathematician who regularly takes part in contests published in a ...
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1answer
110 views

What is Euler's proof of his formula ${e^{ix}=\cos(x)+i\sin(x)}$

I've read several proofs of the Euler's formula $$e^{ix}=\cos(x)+i\sin(x)$$ but I want to know how Euler's himself prove it at the first time, how did he think about it?
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1answer
108 views

Who first proved that the second-order theory of real numbers is categorical?

The second-order theory of real numbers is obtained by taking the axioms of ordered fields and adding a (Dedekind) completeness axiom, which states that every set which has an upper bound has a least ...
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2answers
229 views

History of Calculus

Newton/ Leibniz invented calculus on approximately 1680's. Cauchy/Weierstrauss defined the $\epsilon - \delta$ definition of a limit in approximately 1820's. So how did they define derivatives? I ...
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77 views

What is $M_x$ in Frege's Basic Law IIb?

Gottlob Frege's magnum opus, "The Basic Laws of Arithmetic" (Die Grundgesetze der Arithmetic in German) constitutes one of most impressive and meticulous attempts at developing a rigorous foundation ...
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617 views

A problem V.I. Arnold solved as a primary school student

According to a 1995 interview that Vladimir I. Arnold gave to the Notices of the AMS, his primary school teacher I.V. Morozkin gave in 1949 (when Arnold was 12 years old) to a Soviet classroom, most ...
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519 views

The most active fields of mathematics?

Which fields of mathematics are the most active at this time -- by number of papers published, grant money, people working in them or by any other measure? Any trends in this regard?
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171 views

Could Euclid have bisected a line segment without his method of superposition?

In Book I Proposition 10 of the Elements, Euclid performs the bisection (i.e. finding a midpoint) of a line segment. In the course of doing so, he uses Book I Proposition 4, the Side-Angle-Side ...
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2answers
110 views

Notation and the name choice for meet and join (in order theory)

I have two simple questions: From where do the names meet and join come from? I don't see any intuition between those names in context of order theory. From where does the notation come? I have to ...
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2answers
473 views

Mathematics and slavery [closed]

I think that ancient Greek mathematics is a miracle. Think about Euclid. Developing mathematical arguments from a small set of axioms is incredibly modern. And their influence on modern mathematics is ...
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1answer
75 views

Cauchy's theorem or Frobenius' lemma

A textbook exercises asks: The goal of this exercise is to prove Frobenius's lemma, which asserts that if the order of the group $G$ is divisible by the prime $p$, then $G$ contains an element of ...
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3answers
775 views

Who came up with the $\varepsilon$-$\delta$ definitions and the axioms in Real Analysis?

I've seen a lot of definitions of things like boundary points, accumulation points, continuity, etc, and axioms of the real numbers. But I have a hard time accepting these as "true" definitions or ...
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1answer
55 views

Who first described commutative algebraic theories explicitly?

Lately, I've been thinking that the concept of a commutative algebraic theory is really, really important. So I'm curious; who had the honor of first discovering this concept? In particular, I'd like ...
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91 views

What were some Mexican contributions to high school level algebra and statistics?

I want to do a presentation on Mexican mathematicians' contribution to either high school level algebra or statistics. What kind of resources are out there? Does anyone know of a contribution that I ...
2
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1answer
26 views

What is a cofactor in this case?

Im looking at a homework problem I have and I am a bit confused. The first part of the question is to show that 8128 is a perfect number. This is simple enough: $1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 127 + ...
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1answer
123 views

Why $\operatorname e$ was named e ? What is the history and reason behind it?

Why the constant that Euler discovered has symbol $\operatorname e$ and not other symbols? What is the history and reason behind it? Thanks.
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48 views

Order of operations - is there any standard?

Is there any standard regarding order of mathematical operations? I only found ISO 31-11 that deals with mathematical symbols, but not with the order of operations. If there's not, I'd be interested ...
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2answers
93 views

why function argument is on right side $f(x)$ rather than on left side as $xf$

Is there an advantage for writing function arguments on the right side as $f(x)$ rather than on the left side as $xf$? The latter looks more natural if we think about it in diagram as $domain ...
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1answer
82 views

From $\mathsf{O}$ to $\mathsf{I}$ via $\infty$

The following is not true mathematics, but a little imaginary story about mathematical symbols. I wonder if there is - in parts - a true (etymological) story behind it. Once there was a symbol ...
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2answers
163 views

Is there any surprising elementary probability problem that result in surprising solution like the Monty Hall problem?

For recreational purpose, i haven't seen a interesting elemetary probability question quite a while. Is there any surprising elementary probability problem that result in surprising solution like the ...
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1answer
76 views

Russell's definition of finite cardinals

whether the thought had been previously adumbrated, perhaps confusedly, i know not, but the name of Bertrand Russell has become associated with the assertion that: the number $2$ is the set of all ...
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117 views

Reform of math symbols for high school texts

I am looking for references to papers and resources related to reforming math symbols for introductory courses at middle or high school level. Pointers to other forums also welcome. Eidt: For ...