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A History of Mathematics by Carl B. Boyer

A History of Mathematics (1968)

by Carl B. Boyer

Other authors: Isaac Asimov (Foreword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 5 of 5
Very enlightening and entertaining,
a pleasure to read and share with the backstage details
of math thinkers and their lives and motives
brings math down to reality and yet celebrates
the imagination and creative of so many thinkers
1 vote SPARDUDA | Jul 25, 2016 |
Foreword by Isaac Asimov. "As time goes on, nearly every field of human endeavor is marked by changes which can be considered as correction and/or extension. ....But only among the sciences is there true progress; only there is the record one of continuous advance toward ever greater heights...." And "Only in mathematics is there no significant correction--only extension." [vii]

Chapter 13 entitled "The Arabic Hegemony". Noting that the work of al-Khwarizmi, the "father of algebra" [230] in the original Arabic is "lost". [227] Khwarizmi translated the Brahmagupta concerning the "Hindu Art of Reckoning", and it survives in the Latin translation with the title "De numero indorum". In this work, he gave so full "an account of the Hindu numerals that he probably is responsible for the widespread but false impression that our system of numeration is Arabic in origin." [227] Khwarizmi made no claim of originality, but our word "algorithm" is from "al-Khwarizmi", and now refers to any peculiar rule of procedure or operation. [228]

Islamic armies destroyed the library of Alexandria in 641. The leader of the troops was asked "what was to be done with the books". He commanded them to be burned, "for if they were in agreement with the Koran they were superfluous, if they were in disagreement they were worse".[226] {{This may be an apocryphal story; the Koran itself may not have been consolidated -- largely by Ayeesha -- at this time.}}

The Arabs did not take an interest in learning until India was conquered and the work known to Arabs as the Sindhind was brought to Baghdad. [226] It was translated into Arabic around 775, and shortly thereafter, so were Ptolemy's works translated from the Greek. Alchemy and astrology were the first studies which appealed to the conquerors. As the caliphate of al-Mamun dawned, a "House of Wisdom" was established, and Arabic versions were made of all Greek works that could be found. [227]
1 vote keylawk | Jan 7, 2016 |
I think this kind of book is important. I admit I had more questions than anything when reading because it's so hard for me to understand. But I still think it's an important process, questions can be more important than answers. It's a part of the power of deeper thinking.. and being a part of a human thought continuum. ( )
  Sally-AnneLambert | Aug 16, 2009 |
A comprehensive survey of mathematics, from Babylonian number systems to 20th century analysis, with emphasis on the areas you'd expect: ancient Greek geometry, Arab work on polynomials, the development of analysis in Europe, etc. A tad dry in places, but very clear and thorough. The presentation doesn't assume a particularly high level of mathematical sophistication on the part of the reader, but on the other hand, why in the hell would you find this book interesting if you haven't already done some mathematical work?

The story proceeds chronologically in more or less self-contained chapters that focus on particular areas and eras, so this book can be used as a reference by people who don't want to read the whole thing. In addition to its general utility as a history, Boyer's book gives you an appreciation what a vast human undertaking mathematics has been. Even something like basic algebra, which now seems so obvious and common-sensical, represents a tremendous feat of intellectual innovation.

If you're looking for a good popular exposition of the ideas of mathematics rather than the history per se, a good place to start is The Mathematical Experience by Davis and Hersh.
1 vote billmcn | Dec 20, 2007 |
  miketroll | Mar 14, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boyer, Carl B.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Asimov, IsaacForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Merzbach, Uta C.Authorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0471543977, Paperback)

What do you mean there's no chapter 0? Whether or not you think that's a deficit, A History of Mathematics more than makes up for it with its depth and engaging analysis of the development of the "flawless science." Historian Carl B. Boyer designed it as a practical textbook for communicating math's complex timelines to interested college students in 1968; Uta C. Merzbach has gently revised it to bring it in line with current thought. Much of the early chapters are untouched, with new 19th- and 20th-century chapters covering Boyer's omissions and new and revised references guiding the reader to additional resources.

From the origins of numbering to the future of computing, the authors strive for comprehensive examination and clear, simple explanations. Some of the math will daunt those who have never taken college-level courses (or have forgotten what they learned), but some of the more elaborate technical material can be skipped if needed. Especially helpful is the extensive timeline-appendix that proceeds from the beginning of time to the late 20th century. Whether you're using it to gain a better understanding of mathematics or to broaden your awareness of the historical record, A History of Mathematics will help you make sense of the wide world of numbers. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:05 -0400)

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"The initial revision, which appeared two years ago, was designed for classroom use. The exercises found there, and in the original edition, have been dropped in this edition ..."

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