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

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7
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1answer
77 views

Source of Hardy-Littlewood's 2nd Conjecture

In what paper do Hardy and Littlewood first mention, specifically, their 2nd conjecture? It is not mentioned specifically in Partitio Numerorum III. This conjecture is usually expressed as ...
3
votes
3answers
388 views

How did the Ancient Greeks know that the circle method of finding square roots was mathematically valid? How do we know that?

The Ancients used this method. (or at least James Grime said in a numberphile video) To construct the square root of a number, draw an interval of length $a+1$, and then draw a semi-circle with the ...
12
votes
5answers
722 views

Is the theory of dual numbers strong enough to develop real analysis, and does it resemble Newton's historical method for doing calculus?

I've been interested in non-standard analysis recently. I was reading up on it and noticed the following interesting comment on the Wikipedia page about hyperreal numbers, right after giving an ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

Lagrange's original proof of Remainder Theorem?

Where can I find Lagrange's original proof of the Remainder Theorem?
3
votes
2answers
95 views

Why do we write $a^n$ instead of $^n\!a$ for exponentiation?

For subtraction I can understand why $2-3 = 2+(-3)$ since we read from left to right, but I don't see why this need apply to exponentiation. What benefit is there to writing the base before the ...
10
votes
1answer
550 views

Riemann's thinking on symmetrizing the zeta functional equation

In the translated version of Riemann's classic On the Number of Prime Numbers less than a Given Quantity, he quickly derives the zeta functional equation through contour integration essentially as ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

Genius mathematicians who never published anything

Amongst philosophers, Socrates is an example of a genius with a great influence on human history who never wrote anything. Almost all facts which are known about his revolutionary ideas are written by ...
3
votes
4answers
210 views

Have any definitions in mathematics been redefined

Based on certain intuitions and motivations we make certain definitions and then proceed to use these concepts in further developing our intuition. For example, we have an intuition that a line has ...
7
votes
5answers
152 views

Why do we first introduce the open set definition for continuity instead of the neighborhood definition?

After (nearly) completing my course in topology, something weird just stuck out to me which I hadn't considered before. When first discussing continuity, we often use the following definition: Let ...
61
votes
26answers
4k views

Is there a great mathematical example for a 12-year-old?

I've just been working with my 12-year-old daughter on Cantor's diagonal argument, and countable and uncountable sets. Why? Because the maths department at her school is outrageously good, and set ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

Who introduced the term indefinite integral and the notation $\int f(x)dx$?

I find the notation $\int f(x)dx$ for the indefinite integral of $f(x)$ on some interval $I$ is both suggestive and confusing. On the one hand, this notation is very suggestive when we calculate ...
6
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0answers
70 views
+50

History of the term “anodyne” in homotopy theory

There is a notion of an anodyne morphism (usually of simplicial sets). This type of morphisms is used, for instance, to establish basic properties of quasicategories. But the name is quite mysterious. ...
0
votes
0answers
15 views

Request for good resources on 'history of infinity' topics [migrated]

Im writing/starting with my bachelor thesis, the subject is about "infinity": what the hell is it, why do we accept it, but most of all my goal is to give an overview of the history of the ...
19
votes
4answers
626 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
107 views

The Big Picture of Commutative Ring

For final assignment on my Abstract Algebra class $-$ which is about Commutative Rings with Unity covering roughly Modules, Field of Fractions of an Integral Domain, Integrality and Fields, Prime ...
2
votes
2answers
38 views

St.Petersburg Paradox and Bernoulli's quote

I was reading about St.Petersburg paradox, and understood the proof that $\frac{S_n}{n\log n} \overset{P}{\rightarrow}1$. The textbook then quotes Bernoulli: "There ought not to exist any even ...
4
votes
1answer
261 views

When was it realized that complex numbers can't lie on a number line?

When I first learned about representation of a complex number by a point in a $2D$ plane, I wondered: what if it's redundant? What if a line is sufficient? Apparently, it's not, but I still wonder: ...
64
votes
24answers
11k views

Mathematicians ahead of their time?

In every field there's always that person who's just years ahead of their time. For instance, Paul Morphy (born 1837) is said to have retired from chess because he found no one to match his technique ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

What exactly is the 'tension' between arithmetic and geometry?

We all know Pythagorean theorem, $a^2+b^2 = c^2 $ Im reading John Stillwell, Mathematics and its history at the moment, and during the greek antiquity they had some trouble by interpretating ...
-1
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0answers
51 views

What to mathematics books to read? [closed]

What are the top 20 mathematics books you should read before you die? I am not necessarily looking for classicals like Principia Mathematica.
2
votes
1answer
98 views

When was contemporary logical notation established

When contemporary fundamental logical notation was established? I mean basic symbols as used nowadays $\iff\implies\land\lor\lnot\forall\exists\vdash\models$.
32
votes
12answers
3k views

Why are integers subset of reals?

In most programming languages, integer and real (or float, rational, whatever) types are usually disjoint; 2 is not the same as 2.0 (although most languages do an automatic conversion when necessary). ...
2
votes
1answer
59 views

Original Papers on Singular Homology/Cohomology.

I am currently reading Singular Homology Theory and Cohomology on my own mainly from Hatcher's "Algebriac Topology" and "Topology and Geometry" by Bredon. Quite often it happens that it takes a lot of ...
6
votes
2answers
881 views

History of Compass/Straight Edge Construction

I'm interested in learning the origin of compass/straight-edge constructions. In particular, I am interested in the historical interplay between Euclid's axioms for plane geometry, and ...
1
vote
1answer
52 views

Who are the two men credited with inventing logarithms?

This is a bonus question on a pre-calculus quiz I've been tasked with grading. Napier is clearly one of the answers. Who should I accept for the second inventor? In particular, should Newton be ...
10
votes
1answer
212 views

Does anyone know about Ramanujan's method of solving the quartic? [closed]

I have read (probably) in Kanigel's book The Man Who Knew Infinity that S. Ramanujan devised his own method of solving the Quartic Equation after he learnt to solve the Cubic Equation. Does anyone ...
2
votes
0answers
45 views

Development of measure and probability theory

I am interested in a reference (article, maybe a book chapter) on the development of mathematical probability theory - that is, mostly starting from the beginning of the 20th century. It is surprising ...
66
votes
11answers
10k views

Results that came out of nowhere.

Most big results in mathematics are built on years and years of groundwork by the author and other mathematicians, such as Wiles' proof of FLT or the classification of finite simple groups. ...
2
votes
3answers
254 views

What is the “Principle of permanence”?

While reading the book "The Number-System of Algebra (2nd edition)." term "Principle of permanence" occurred to me. I remember I had read this in the book "Beginning algebra for college students.". I ...
12
votes
5answers
629 views

Purpose of the Peano Axioms

Wikipedia says the Peano Axioms are a set of axioms for the natural numbers. Is the purpose of the axioms to create a base on which we can build the rest of mathematicas formally? If this is true ...
8
votes
1answer
509 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
48 views

What did homogeneous coordinates allow 19th century mathematicians to do?

I read about Mobius developing Barycentric and homogeneous coordinates, and I read about homogeneous coordinates and what they are and I'm totally on board with taking a line from the origin and ...
2
votes
0answers
36 views

Why are there so many different symbols to represent the Heaviside (unit step) function

In signal processing, the unit step function is typically written as $u(t)$. In other references though I have seen it represented as $H(t)$ and even $\theta(t)$. The unit impulse is fairly ...
3
votes
0answers
219 views

There is some intuitive idea of Pascal's 's theorem in Projective Geometry?

In projective geometry, Pascal's theorem (formulated by Blaise Pascal when he was 16 years old) determines that a hexagon inscribed in a conic, the lines that contain the opposite sides intersect in ...
36
votes
7answers
1k views

Original works of great mathematicians

In almost every mathematical text there is a line as This was first proved by Gauss or This formula first appeared in a work of Riemann, but for me it's more like My friend told me once that... For ...
1
vote
0answers
49 views

In which years in the prefaces to mathematical books thanks to secretaries for typing text books have disappeared?

In which years in the prefaces to mathematical books thanks to secretaries for typing text books have disappeared? Just interesting. When latex won?
8
votes
1answer
229 views

Meaning of the word “conjugate” across mathematics?

Clearly, the word conjugate or conjugation is used for a myriad of different concepts across mathematics and even in science (see the Wikipedia page). Its meaning can range from the fraction used to ...
2
votes
0answers
35 views

International Awards for Roger Apery?

Roger Apery stunned the math community when he proved that $\zeta(3)$ is irrational, in a truly elementary fashion. I wonder if he received any international awards specifically for this achievement. ...
14
votes
2answers
592 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
31 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
23 views

A finite generalization of differentials?

So basically, in trying to make sense of a certain math aspect of a thermodynamic problem (how to manipulate differentials) I end up reading this ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

Where can I find the old papers of the Math Tripos?

Is there a repository on the Internet which has the old question papers of the tripos? I am specifically interested in the papers during the 1890-1910 era, which was the era before the reforms, ...
2
votes
1answer
85 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
309 views

Examples of Mathematics in Court

In court trials, natural sciences such as physics and biology routinely make an appearance, e.g. when estimating the speed of a vehicle based on impact damage or trying to deduce from the condition of ...
2
votes
1answer
60 views

Development of Measure Theory

I would like to see the historical references for the following sequence of events: 1) When outer measure defined first time? 2) When it is proved that the outer measure is not countable additive? ...
31
votes
5answers
2k views

“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 ...
7
votes
5answers
375 views

When can ZFC be said to be “born”?

The "History" section of the Wikipedia article on ZFC isn't particularly helpful. The only thing I understood from it is that ZFC appeared after 1922. In what book or paper was ZFC first explicitly ...
11
votes
1answer
253 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
42 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
73 views

What are some good references on how probability theory got mathematically rigorous?

I am working on a term paper for an analysis course and I thought it would be interesting to talk about the connection between analysis and probability theory. Honestly, it would also benefit me a lot ...