Questions tagged [mathematics-social-history]

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Simultaneous independent or semi-independent solutions to problems

This is a request for help (with examples, as described below) with a talk I giving to graduate students regarding the dynamics of mathematical research among mathematicians and the development of key ...
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1 answer
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Did thinkers we now regard as mathematicians call themselves philosophers prior to the 19th century?

Recently, a teacher of mine stated that, since the institutional division between philosophy and other fields of academic enquiry, especially the natural sciences, happened somewhere along the 19th ...
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2 votes
1 answer
188 views

The abstraction of mathematics from physics

When and how did mathematics come to be abstracted away from the physical world? At first, mathematics would originate in its simplest form of counting and addition as to keep track of certain ...
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-1 votes
5 answers
315 views

Looking for math history but keep finding the same old stuff

I've browsed many math history books, but I've never read too deep into any single one. I always find myself reading the about the same facts and same people over and over -- the set of topics doesn't ...
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Are there examples of mathematical systems that reflect the worldview of the culture they are from?

By this I mean, are there systems of numbers, counting, sorting.. or even higher level mathematical concepts that reflect a culture's worldview? Did some cultures not develop certain math concepts ...
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2 votes
1 answer
186 views

Grothendieck and Fields medal 1962

We can read as a mathunion excerpt that Grothendieck won the Fields medal in 1966 Built on work of Weil and Zariski and effected fundamental advances in algebraic geometry. He introduced the idea of ...
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4 votes
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Who proved Rank Nullity Theorem?

I have been learning about the Rank Nullity theorem and was trying to understand Who came up with the rank nullity theorem? While i did look up on the internet i came up with almost no answers. Some ...
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"Political Events" in the Preface to the Second Edition of Spivak's Comprehensive Introduction Volume 2

In the Preface to the second edition to Spivak's A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry, Vol. 2, on p.vii says: The material in this Volume covers about what I would have completed in ...
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Why are there relatively many Eastern European (specifically Hungarian) graph theorists?

I noticed that a large number of theories within graph theory are from Eastern European graph theorists, specifically Hungarian graph theorists. What is the relation between Eastern Europe (...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Literary Movements in Math Writing

I am wondering if there is some analog for literary movements in writing (e.g., romanticism/post-modernism) for mathematics or the sciences as a whole. I would think there would be similarly large ...
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14 votes
1 answer
674 views

Does Arnold say that Hardy is responsible for Ramanujan's untimely death?

Mathematician Vladimir Arnold in his book Yesterday and Long Ago, Springer (2007) writes: When I resided at Cambridge as a senior fellow of Trinity College, Indian colleagues told me some details ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Does the practice of viewing modern mathematics as the necessary direction in which ancient mathematics must have evolved have a name?

I have noticed a tendency among some historians and scholars of mathematics to regard the mathematics of antiquity as a less developed version of modern mathematics. This view reminds me of the belief ...
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historical comments in bad taste

On page 44 of [1] Flanders writes "A treatment from this point of view of exterior calculus which is not quite completely satisfactory and which unfortunately is embellished with historical ...
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Recording current development of research mathematics

Are there historians of science that are systematically recording current activity in research mathematics ? For example, a decade ago there was a lot of stuff through blogs and Mathoverflow, nowadays ...
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195 views

Is there any relation between strabismus and mathematical or scientific ability?

By looking at the portraits of prominent mathematicians and scientists of the previous centuries it seems like they have a higher incidence of strabismus than the general population of today. Are ...
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2 votes
1 answer
104 views

Who is the Dottie number named after?

I have learned about the Dottie number, though I am unsure to whom it is attributed to and why it is named as so.
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Who invented the first pronunciation system for binary numbers that is roughly analogous to how we pronounce everyday decimal numbers?

Who invented the first pronunciation system for binary numbers that is roughly analogous to how we pronounce everyday decimal numbers (by which I mean how 220 is pronounced 'two hundred twenty')? ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Examples of when statistical distributions like Binomial or Normal distribution was critical in a law/policy decision, in a court case or otherwise

This was closed as off-topic on math.se, and it was suggested I post this here, so here goes. Firstly, I am aware that this thread exists, and I'll definitely be ordering a copy of the book, "...
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Old Indian and Chinese references

It is been some years since I completed my graduate studies in mathematics at a Spanish university. I remember one of the most pleasant and enriching moments I experienced was when reading Euclid´s ...
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1 answer
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Are the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Mesopotamians really the cradles of civilization? [closed]

Is it true that ancient Greek knowledge of mathematics, science, astronomy, engineering, architecture, civilization came from the ancient Minoan civilization and ancient Mycenaean civilizations and ...
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2 votes
0 answers
81 views

Alhazen's problem history

I was wondering if anyone has read '' alhazen book of optics'' and has understood his solution of Alhazen's problem. I know a modern solution of the problem by Dörrie-100 great problems of mathematics,...
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4 votes
0 answers
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What is the basic idea behind calculation of area? [closed]

The system of calculating area in terms of square units is pretty philosophical and not very intuitive. It must have taken a great amount of time for humanity to arrive at such a convention and to ...
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3 votes
1 answer
296 views

"Family tree" of mathematicians and their PhD advisors and students

Whilst looking at the Wikipedia pages for some well known mathematicians I was surprised at how many of them were advised by other recognisable mathematicians. In some cases I could back track 5 or ...
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3 votes
1 answer
391 views

How did ZFC become the standard foundations of mathematics?

I would like to hear about the historical and technical reasons for why Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of Choice became the dominant standard for the foundations of mathematics. The system ...
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6 votes
2 answers
327 views

Why did Richard Bellman, creator of dynamic programing say: 1950s were not good years for maths?

Richard Bellman said : "The 1950s were not good years for mathematical research. We had a very interesting gentleman in Washington named Wilson. He was Secretary of Defense, and he actually had ...
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1 vote
2 answers
338 views

Why are there so few Iberian mathematicians in history?

I have been analysing the rise and fall of the various centres of mathematical excellence, and following how, for example, Ancient Greece gave way to the Arab and Persian world, which inherited from ...
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5 votes
1 answer
241 views

Why is Dirac delta named after Dirac when the concept was already over two centuries old?

Please explain why the Dirac delta function was named after Dirac, who lived in the 20th century, and what was so special about it. I ask this because it is used in Green's function which pre-dated ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What mathematical theorems were known in the Americas prior to European contact?

A comment on another site brought the article How Does Race Affect a Student's Math Education? to my attention. In the article, the author observes (emphasis mine), But she’s also constrained by the ...
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Who was Heinrich Kornblum?

Heinrich Kornblum was a student of Edmund Landau who is known for his generalization of Dirichlet's theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions to function fields. He was born in Wolow, Poland in ...
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15 votes
7 answers
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Mathematical results that became known long after their authors passed away

Liouville published Galois' work a decade after the death of this singular mathematician. Are there other cases of results being rescued by the mathematical community long after their authors were ...
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11 votes
1 answer
957 views

How many important logicians did NOT receive doctoral degrees?

I can think of three. Saul Kripke quite famously could only be begrudged to finish his undergraduate degree at Harvard before being hired as a full professor. Donald Martin (the set theorist of Martin'...
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5 votes
0 answers
114 views

What was Littlewood's quip about Hardy and plagiarism?

I'm searching for a quote by Littlewood about Hardy not giving proper credit. The story (as I remember it) is that Littlewood claimed uncredited authorship of something Hardy wrote, Hardy claimed it ...
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8 votes
2 answers
902 views

What did G.H. Hardy teach Ramanujan?

Ramanujan didn't know modern mathematics. he lacked idea regarding analysis. I found in Wikipedia- Hardy tried his best to fill the gaps in Ramanujan's education and to mentor him in the need for ...
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4 votes
3 answers
318 views

Plagiarism at the turn of 20th century

Have there have been any interesting cases of one person stealing another mathematician's results and publishing them as his own? In particular, are there any interesting cases of this happening in ...
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5 votes
2 answers
339 views

Substantiating claimed Fourier quote about “an arbitrarily capricious graph”

The following quote (in English) is fairly widely attributed to Fourier, but I can't substantiate it. An arbitrary function, continuous or with discontinuities, defined in a finite interval by an ...
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1 vote
1 answer
208 views

Where did Mac Lane say he saw Hitler and wished that he had a gun so he could have shot him?

In Saunders Mac Lane's autobiography he described how he visited, I think Königsberg, then the centre of mathematics in Germany. He also reported he that he saw Hitler somewhere and that he wished ...
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8 votes
0 answers
712 views

About the LOR of John Nash, was there any relationship between Richard Duffin and Solomon Lefschetz?

In Academia SE, there is a question about the credibility of Prof. Richard Duffin, who wrote the notorious letter of recommendation for John Nash, who later received the Nobel Memorial Prize in ...
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