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A History of Mathematics: From Mesopotamia to Modernity - download pdf or read online

By Luke Hodgkin

ISBN-10: 0198529376

ISBN-13: 9780198529378

Even though the bankruptcy issues stick with the present version of heritage of arithmetic textual content books (compare the desk of contents Victor J. Katz's background of arithmetic; significantly similar), the textual content has a power, intensity, and honesty came across all too seldom in a textual content booklet mathematical historical past. this isn't the common text-book on technical heritage that may be brushed aside (as Victor J. Katz's might be) as "a pack of lies" with in simple terms "slight exageration" (to quote William Berkson's Fields of Force).Also, the textual content is daring sufficient to cite and translate the particular and common form of presentation utilized in Bourbaki conferences: "tu es demembere foutu Bourbaki" ("you are dismmembered [..]) [a telegram despatched via Bourbaki staff to Cartan, informing him that his booklet was once approved and will be published]. Luke Hodgkin's textual content dispenses with the asterisk (see p.241).

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Extra info for A History of Mathematics: From Mesopotamia to Modernity

Sample text

So the statement ‘square root of 15 is 30’ is true also for this interpretation of 15. 2. This is a standard fact about place-value systems (unless the ‘base’ is a square). The different interpretations of any number are, say a basic ‘x’ and x × 60k . If x = y2 , then (since 60 is not a square), x × 60k is a square if and only if k is even, say k = 2l; when x × 60k is the square of y × 60l . So, in Babylonian terms, the square root of x is always y. 6. The Babylonian answer is given in Robson (2000, p.

Ma ì-lá 1 ma-na sag na4 en-nam sag na4 4 12 gín Note that the figures in this quotation correspond to Babylonian numerals, of which more will follow later3 ; that is, where in the translation below the phrase ‘one-thirteenth’ appears, a more accurate translation would be ‘13-fraction’, which shows that the word thirteen is not used. There is a special sign for 12 . The translation reads as follows (words in brackets have been supplied by the translator): I found a stone, (but) did not weigh it; (after) I weighed (out) 8 times its weight, added 3 gín one-third of one-thirteenth I multiplied by 21, added (it), and then I weighed (it): 1 ma-na.

Here the term ‘procedure text’ is rather a misnomer, but other tablets are more explicit on harder problems. With our knowledge of algebra, we can say (as you will find in the books) that the equation above leads to: (8x + 3) 39 + 21 = 60 39 and so, 8x + 3 = 39, and x = 4 12 . The fact that 39 and 21 add to 60, one would suppose, could not have escaped the setter of the problem; but language, such as I have just used would have been quite impossible. What method would have been available? The Egyptians (and their successors for millennia) solved simple linear equations, such as (as we would say) 4x + 3 = 87 by ‘false position’: guessing a likely answer, finding it is wrong, and scaling to get the right one.

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A History of Mathematics: From Mesopotamia to Modernity by Luke Hodgkin


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