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

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6
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1answer
93 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
294 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 ...
21
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5answers
566 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
106 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 ...
1
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1answer
95 views

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 ...
10
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2answers
285 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 ...
1
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1answer
59 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. ...
6
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4answers
316 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,
7
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2answers
242 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
723 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
37 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 = ...
8
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3answers
143 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 ...
1
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5answers
120 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
268 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
880 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
174 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
106 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 ...
7
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0answers
192 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 ...
32
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5answers
3k views

Examples of “Non-Logical Theorems” Proven by Logic

I am still an undergraduate student, and so perhaps I just haven't seen enough of the mathematical world. Question: What are some examples of mathematical logic solving open problem outside of ...
2
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1answer
103 views

Did the ancient Sumerians calculate the square root of two?

This post makes the claim: Not bad you might think, but compare it to the Summerian Kù of 51.85cm of the copper of Nippur and its derived unit SAR of 3600 Kù being 1866.6 meter being only 0.77% ...
4
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0answers
1k views

What is the origin of “how the Japanese multiply” / line multiplication?

A few months ago I made a video about a way to multiply numbers using lines (here) and it got really popular. I had heard about this trick before and I wanted to trace its origins. It seems to me to ...
6
votes
1answer
160 views

How did Le Verrier calculate Neptune's position?

In the Wikipdia article on Neptune the discovery is described as a mathematical achievement: Subsequent observations revealed substantial deviations from the tables, leading Bouvard to ...
4
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2answers
165 views

Who invented or used very first the double lined symbols $\mathbb{R},\mathbb{Q},\mathbb{N}$ etc

Who invented or used very first the double lined symbols $\mathbb{R},\mathbb{Q},\mathbb{N}$ etc. to represent the real number system, rational number system, natural number system respectively?
2
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1answer
54 views

Origin of Slater's condition

I've been looking all over the internet to answer this question: Slater's condition is a commonly used to certify that strong duality holds in a convex optimization problem. Although used in many ...
3
votes
1answer
215 views

What is this myth/legend and origin of related ideas?

There is a story I recently heard but the story teller (who read about it someone on the Internet) have forgotten the majority of the story, so there is little I can work on: my search attempts went ...
15
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7answers
585 views
0
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1answer
52 views

Sophie Germain primes

Why did Germain come up with her Germain primes? I am intrigued to know why Sophie came across these primes. Do they have any applications?
0
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1answer
91 views

Understanding the difference between relations and functions.

$R=\{(1,2),(1,3)\}$ is a relation but not function. The logic for this is that if the first element of every ordered pair must remain different, then it is said to be function. Otherwise, it's just ...
22
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3answers
770 views

Who named “Quotient groups”?

Who decided to call quotient groups quotient groups, and why did they choose that name? A lot of identities such as $$\frac{G/A}{B/A}\cong \frac{G}{B}$$ suggest that whoever invented the notation ...
3
votes
2answers
149 views

What is the intutive explanation of why the notation of matrices is as it is?

If I want to solve a system of linear equations, like 2x-y=1 x+2y=4 Then the matrix notation for the same would be: $$ \begin{bmatrix} 2 & -1 \\ 1 & 2 \\ \end{bmatrix} \begin{bmatrix} X\\ ...
2
votes
1answer
120 views

Why didn't Frege succeed in his attempts to reduce mathematics to logic?

My background: Sophomore-level understanding of mathematics and philosophical logic. All the explanations I have found online so far are either far too technical or too simplistic. Thanks in advance ...
1
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1answer
71 views

Why we can't define more mathematical constant?

I would like to know how many mathematical constant are there? I saw this link and I know the names. Who can define a mathematical constant? Someone can say that ...
0
votes
2answers
81 views

What is the meaning of calculating sine of a number?

When we calculate sine/cos/tan etc. of a number what exactly are we doing in terms of elementary mathematical concept, please try to explain in an intuitive and theoretical manner and as much as ...
7
votes
1answer
130 views

Who first proved the fundamental theorem of finitely generated (or finite) abelian groups?

The fundamental theorem of finitely generated abelian groups (or maybe just finite abelian groups) is well-known and can be found in just about any text on the theory of groups or abstract algebra. ...
10
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7answers
638 views

Interviews of famous modern mathematicians

I was wondering, are there any good collections of interviews of famous modern mathematicians? It can be text interviews, or audio or video recordings. I am not sure what exactly I mean by "modern". ...
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0answers
28 views

Cayley on “trivial transformations”

In his 1854 paper, "Deuxième mémoire sur les fonctions doublement périodiques" ("Second memoir on doubly periodic functions"), Cayley discusses (what we would today describe as) a certain class of ...
15
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2answers
704 views

History of Algebraic Geometry: Motivation behind definition of schemes

I am trying to read an article by Jean Dieudonne which talks about development of Algebraic Geometry. The article was being published in the journal "Advances in Mathematics" Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages ...
3
votes
1answer
105 views

Coincidence about nabla?

I was surprised to notice that gradient of function and Levi-Civita connection have the same notation, i.e. nabla sign $\nabla$. Moreover, extending any connection on tensors, one let it be ...
2
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1answer
89 views

Descartes on imaginary unit.

I heard once that Descartes defining the imaginary unit had to talk about the imagining of rise of the spirit over the real numbers because definition based on square root of a negative number could ...
12
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2answers
1k views

Has any error ever been found in Euclid's elements?

Has any error ever been found in Euclid's elements since its publication? Or it is still perfect from the view point of modern mathematics.
1
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1answer
102 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
162 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
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2answers
98 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
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1answer
59 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!!!
6
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0answers
215 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 ...
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0answers
26 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
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1answer
90 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
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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
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2answers
206 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, ...
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0answers
60 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 ...