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Friday , July 28 2017


The history of mathematics is nearly as previous as humanity itself. Since olden times, mathematics has been fundamental to advances in science, engineering, and philosophy. It has evolved from simple counting, measurement and result, and the systematic study of the shapes and motions of physical objects, through the submission of abstraction, imagination and logic, to the broad, complex and often abstract discipline we know today.


From the irregular bones of early man to the mathematical advances brought about by settled agriculture in Mesopotamia and Egypt and the innovatory developments of ancient Greece and its Hellenistic empire, the story of mathematics is a long and impressive one.


The East approved on the baton, mainly China, India and the medieval Islamic empire, before the focus of mathematical modernization moved back to Europe in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Then, a total new series of innovatory developments occurred in 17th Century and 18th Century Europe, setting the stage for the increasing density 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 connected sections, like the chapters of a book. Read the human stories behind the innovations, and how they made – and sometimes damaged – the men and women who devoted their lives to.



Every society on earth has developed some mathematics. In some cases, this mathematics has spread from one culture to another. Now there is one predominant international mathematics, and this mathematics has quite a history. It has roots in earliest Egypt and Babylonia, then grew rapidly in ancient Greece. Mathematics written in earliest Greek was translated into Arabic. About the same time some mathematics of India was translated into Arabic. Later some of this mathematics was translated into Latin and became the mathematics of Western Europe. Over a period of several hundred years, it became the mathematics of the world.


There are other spaces in the world that developed important mathematics, such as China, southern India, and Japan, and they are interesting to study, but the mathematics of the other regions have not had much power on current global mathematics. There is, of course, much mathematics being done these and other regions, but it is not the conventional math of the regions, but international mathematics.


By far, the most significant enlargement in mathematics was giving it firm logical foundations. This took place in ancient Greece in the centuries earlier Euclid. See Euclid’s Elements. Logical foundations give mathematics more than just certainty-they are a tool to investigate the unknown.





Our prehistoric associates would have had a general susceptibility about amounts, and would have instinctively known the difference between, say, one and two antelopes. But the intellectual leap from the existing idea of two things to the invention of a symbol or word for the abstract idea of “two” took many ages to come about.

still today, there are isolated hunter-gatherer tribes in Amazonia which only have words for “one”, “two” and “many”, and others which only have words for numbers up to five. In the lack of settled agriculture and trade, there is little need for a formal system of numbers.


early on man kept track of regular occurrences such as the phases of the moon and the seasons. Some of the very initial evidence of mankind thinking about numbers is from serrated bones in Africa dating back to 35,000 to 20,000 years ago. But this is truly mere counting and tallying rather than mathematics as such.


Pre-dynastic Egyptians and Sumerians represented geometric designs on their artifacts as early as the 5th millennium BCE, as did some megalithic societies in northern Europe in the 3rd millennium BCE or before. But this is more art and decoration than the systematic treatment of figures, patterns, forms and quantities that has come to be measured as mathematics.


Mathematics proper originally developed largely as a comeback to bureaucratic needs when civilizations settled and developed agriculture – for the measurement of plots of land, the taxation of individuals, etc – and this first occurred in the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations of Mesopotamia (roughly, modern Iraq) and in ancient Egypt.


According to some establishment, there is proof of basic arithmetic and geometric notations on the petroglyphs at Knowth and Newgrange burial mounds in Ireland (dating from about 3500 BCE and 3200 BCE respectively). These utilize a repeated zig-zag glyph for counting, a system which continued to be used in Britain and Ireland into the 1st millennium BCE. Stonehenge, a Neolithic ceremonial and astronomical monument in England, which dates from around 2300 BCE, also arguably exhibits examples of the use of 60 and 360 in the circle measurements, a practice which presumably developed quite independently of the sex age simile counting system of the ancient Sumerian and Babylonians.


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Source: story of mathematics and wikipedia

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