978-0-304-35473-3 / 9780304354733

Cassell's Story of Mathematics from Counting to Complexity





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About the book:

Questioning how mathematics has evolved over the centuries and for what reasons; how human endeavour and changes in the way we live have been dependent on mathematics, this book tells the story of the impact this intellectual activity has had across cultures and civilizations. It shows how, far from being just the obsession of an elite group of philosophers, priests and scientists, mathematics has in some shape or other entered every area of human activity. The mysterious tally sticks of prehistoric peoples and the terrestial maps used for trade, exploration and warfare; the perennial fascination with the motions of heavenly bodies and changing perspectives on the art and science of vision; all are testament to a mathematics at the heart of history. The path of this changing discipline is marked by a wealth of images, from medieval manuscripts to the unsettling art of Dali or Duchamp, from the austere beauty of Babylonian clay tablets to the delicate complexity of computer-generated images. The text encompasses a vast sweep of the past, from the dawn of Chinese and Indian civilizations through to the great translators of medieval Europe, and to the scientific and digital revolutions with portraits of names such as Kepler and Copernicus as well as lesser-known figures like Niels Hendrik Abel and Leonhard Euler.

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