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Questions tagged [mathematics-social-history]

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1 answer
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Euler: “A baby on his lap, a cat on his back — that’s how he wrote his immortal works” (origin?)

Euler was a non-confrontational and deeply religious person. He was kind and could get on well with anyone. He worked under any circumstances and in any environment: “A baby on his lap, a cat on his ...
Nikita Kalinin's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
1k views

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

In Yesterday and Long Ago (2007), mathematician Vladimir Arnold wrote: When I resided at Cambridge as a senior fellow of Trinity College,Indian colleagues told me some details of Ramanujan's ...
Tyrell's user avatar
  • 273
16 votes
7 answers
4k views

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 ...
Leandro Caniglia's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
1k 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'...
jmarvin_'s user avatar
  • 121
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the origin of the negation ( ¬ ) operator from logic?

I'm curious as to what the rationale was, and who the idea occurred to, for the ¬ symbol. I'll grant that more common mathematical symbols like +, −, × and ÷ are also likely unknown, but they seem to ...
Michael Macha's user avatar
10 votes
17 answers
5k views

Mathematicians who wrote fiction

Who among professional mathematicians are also known as fiction writers? I know Omar Khayyam (11-12 century), and two more recent ones: Sofya Kovalevskaya and Michele Audin. For the purposes of this ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
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 ...
CJ Dowd's user avatar
  • 219
10 votes
2 answers
244 views

Publication of mathematical papers in journals of enemy country

I restrict my question to mathematics since this is probably the most internationalized of all sciences. During WWII, did any British mathematicians (or mathematicians from allied countries) publish ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
360 views

What did the study plan of an early 20th century mathematics undergraduate program look like?

I am interested in what subjects and activities mathematics undergrads were involved in the beginning of the 20th century. Most subjects mathematics majors study at an intermediate and advanced level ...
Kham Bodrogi's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Consider Non-Trivial Cases's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
1k 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 ...
Ooker's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
938 views

What is the earliest mention of doubling grains on a chessboard story?

This is a story that seems to be an obligatory mention in either sequence and series lessons or exponential functions and today I've decided to track down the transmission of this story. it goes like ...
Hisham's user avatar
  • 429
6 votes
2 answers
303 views

What's the history of "left as exercise" or notions similar to that?

It is now common to come across the term "left as exercise" in mathematics textbooks, and from there a comical usage of such terms was developed, typically by applying them to absurdly ...
Vincent Phillips's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
495 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 ...
NIN's user avatar
  • 171
6 votes
3 answers
328 views

When did bounties and prize money for open mathematical problems start being a thing?

I'm a science/math journalist [ger] and currently I'm working on an article about the culture of prize money/bounties for solving open mathematical problems (Millennium Prize Problems and such). One ...
j grk's user avatar
  • 61
6 votes
1 answer
195 views

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 ...
Liam Bonds's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
504 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 ...
Paul Reiners's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
162 views

How did the concept of local field emerge and develop in mathematics?

When I was studying class field theory, I saw local class field theory. However, I suddenly became curious about local fields, not local class field theory. As far as I know, the local field is the ...
pokssin's user avatar
  • 309
5 votes
2 answers
370 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 ...
Daniel J. Greenhoe's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
401 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 ...
rupert's user avatar
  • 61
5 votes
0 answers
373 views

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 ...
pk123's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
0 answers
220 views

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 (...
Kroko's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
0 answers
132 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 ...
David Diaz's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
137 views

Is it true that Aryabhata explicitly understood or stated the irrationality of $\pi$?

It is well known that Aryabhata, the prominent Indian mathematician and astronomer of the 5th century CE, made significant contributions to mathematics, including approximations of $\pi$ (pi). In his ...
Pustam Raut's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
195 views

How and why was catastrophe theory brought to its knees?

How applications of catastrophe theory outside mathematics stalled the theory, and why? I know that the theory had its fair share of popularity during the 1970s, with many distinguished mathematicians ...
Prelude's user avatar
  • 201
4 votes
0 answers
173 views

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 ...
Vikas Mourya's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
602 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 ...
Prime Mover's user avatar
  • 1,289
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is there evidence that Gödel said "phoned with God"?

Wolfgang Rautenberg wrote in "A Concise Introduction to Mathematical Logic" that Kurt Gödel, to show that finite sequences from ℕ can be coded and manipulated by purely arithmetical formulae,...
user21820's user avatar
  • 128
3 votes
1 answer
774 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 ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 275
3 votes
1 answer
366 views

Is there a theorem proof whose accuracy is doubted because it is short?

Is there a theorem proof whose accuracy is doubted because it is short? He told me while chatting with a friend of mine. It's about a mathematician who proves a difficult theorem very briefly and ...
scarface's user avatar
  • 183
3 votes
1 answer
121 views

Examples of mathematical definitions motivated by engineering problems

I'm interested in the development of mathematical definitions for the sake of engineering, and what makes a particular definition better suited for a problem than another in any particular context. ...
melembroucarlitos's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
525 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 ...
user234212323's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
469 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 ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
323 views

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 ...
Euclid Looked On Beauty Bare's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
616 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 ...
iCaird's user avatar
  • 33
3 votes
0 answers
170 views

Were there women inside Bourbaki?

Bourbaki was founded around 1934, they have a limit age of fifty and many mathematicians have passed through it. According to an interview with Chevalley no women have belonged to the group up to 1985....
user234212323's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
437 views

Non-Euclidean geometry: motivations to develop it at the times of Gauss?

I'm making a historical research on the origins of differential geometry, starting with non-Euclidean geometry introduced by Gauss. Reading different historical accounts, what I don't understand is ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 129
2 votes
1 answer
269 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 ...
Joseph_Kopp's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
208 views

Did Fibonacci not grasp the idea of zero?

Indian mathematicians (e.g., Brahmagupta in the 6th century) developed the idea of 0 as more than a placeholder. In 1202, Fibonacci wrote "These are the nine figures of the Indians: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 ...
user19226's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
293 views

Omar Khayyam is well known as a mystical poet (Quatrains). He is also known as a mathematician. Are these the same?

Omar Khayyam is well known as a mystical poet (his famous Quatrains). He is also somehow known as a mathematician (Equations of degree 3 ?). Are these the same person? A colleague in Arithmetical and ...
Al-Amrani's user avatar
  • 121
2 votes
1 answer
156 views

The reason why sheaf theory emerged

Motivation: In any history, there is a cause-and-effect relationship. So I became curious about the situation in which the sheaf theory came to appear. In other words, I'm curious about what problem ...
pokssin's user avatar
  • 309
2 votes
1 answer
237 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.
aitía's user avatar
  • 139
2 votes
0 answers
90 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,...
I0_0I's user avatar
  • 161
1 vote
1 answer
235 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 ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
74 views

Which people are considered to be the founders of Projective Geometry?

What were the fundamental principles and ideas of projective geometry that made people consider it groundbreaking and separates it from the rest of the geometry? I would love to learn about a good ...
Nate's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote
1 answer
46 views

What is the earliest paper in which graph vertex connectivity is denoted by the Greek letter $\kappa$?

I'm wondering how far back this notation goes. Thank you for your consideration.
Bilal Khan's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
137 views

Did Rene Descartes send or receive any letters (regarding mathematics) on 18.v.1638 (May 18, 1638)?

I dreamed about the date 18.v.1638 (May 18, 1638) last night. As I currently do research on odd perfect numbers, and because Rene Descartes lived during the years 1596 to 1650, and as I am not a math ...
Jose Arnaldo Bebita Dris's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
164 views

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 ...
user14874's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
274 views

Einstein's contribution to Mathematics?

What contribution to mathematics did Einstein make, or was he only interested in Physics and derived formulas using mathematics?
πααρτθ Σαρθι's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
103 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, "...
Adam Rubinson's user avatar