What is Mathematics? | Live ScienceThe history of mathematics is nearly as old as humanity itself. Since antiquity, mathematics has been fundamental to advances in science, engineering, and philosophy. It has evolved from simple counting, measurement and calculation, and the systematic study of the shapes and motions of physical objects, through the application of abstraction, imagination and logic, to the broad, complex and often abstract discipline we know today. From the notched bones of early man to the mathematical advances brought about by settled agriculture in Mesopotamia and Egypt and the revolutionary developments of ancient Greece and its Hellenistic empire, the story of mathematics is a long and impressive one. The East carried on the baton, particularly China , India and the medieval Islamic empire , before the focus of mathematical innovation moved back to Europe in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Then, a whole new series of revolutionary developments occurred in 17th Century and 18th Century Europe, setting the stage for the increasing complexity and abstraction of 19th Century mathematics, and finally the audacious and sometimes devastating discoveries of the 20th Century. Follow the story as it unfolds in this series of linked sections, like the chapters of a book.
Mathematics Books Online
The area of study known as the history of mathematics is primarily an investigation into the origin of discoveries in mathematics and, to a lesser extent, an investigation into the mathematical methods and notation of the past. Before the modern age and the worldwide spread of knowledge, written examples of new mathematical developments have come to light only in a few locales. From BC the Mesopotamian states of Sumer , Akkad and Assyria , together with Ancient Egypt and Ebla began using arithmetic , algebra and geometry for purposes of taxation, commerce, trade and also in the field of astronomy and to formulate calendars and record time. The most ancient mathematical texts available are from Mesopotamia and Egypt - Plimpton Babylonian c. All of these texts mention the so-called Pythagorean triples and so, by inference, the Pythagorean theorem , seems to be the most ancient and widespread mathematical development after basic arithmetic and geometry. Chinese mathematics made early contributions, including a place value system and the first use of negative numbers. Many Greek and Arabic texts on mathematics were translated into Latin from the 12th century onward, leading to further development of mathematics in Medieval Europe.
The following books, pamphlets, and articles have been used in the preparation Cajori, F. The Teaching and History of Mathematics in the U. S.. Washington.
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