Questions tagged [mathematics-social-history]

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After who is the Dottie number named?

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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25 views

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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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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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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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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181 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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283 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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177 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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225 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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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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287 views

Did Sir Isaac Newton smoke? [closed]

It is just a random thought I had while smoking my cigarette. Did Newton smoke tobacco? Some sites claim that he "smoked immoderately", while others are of the opinion that he never touched ...
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195 views

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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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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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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31 views

Mathematicians working from prison? [duplicate]

I've heard one or two anecdotes about mathematicians that were confined to prison or some kind of detention and still managed to do some serious work. I would like to learn some actual stories about ...
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Why is a linear equation in 3 variables called 'linear'? [duplicate]

I have read that an equation of form 0=Ax+By+C is called linear because its graph is a straight line. But why is the equation 0=Ax+By+Cz+D also called linear even though its graph is a straight plane?...
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890 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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101 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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551 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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231 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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299 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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194 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 ...