A History of Chinese Mathematics

A History of Chinese Mathematics

Jean-Claude Martzloff

Language: English

Pages: 487

ISBN: 3540337822

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book is made up of two parts, the first devoted to general, historical and cultural background, and the second to the development of each subdiscipline that together comprise Chinese mathematics. The book is uniquely accessible, both as a topical reference work, and also as an overview that can be read and reread at many levels of sophistication by both sinologists and mathematicians alike.












rather than simply via empirical processes. At the end of the third century, Liu Hui obtained the value 157150 (= 3.14), while at the end of the fifth century, Zu Chongzhi found 3551113. The volume of the sphere was calculated 'Details of this cosmology are given in Nakayama ( l ) , 1969 and in Ho Peng-Yoke (2), 1966, p. 43 ff. 7Sun Wenqing (l'), 1931. sMikami (a'), 1934, p.33. 'Cf. the well known allusion of Herodotns: "[Sesostris] divided the ground between all the Egyptians [. . . ] If a river

number with at most two prime factors. More generally, the new Chinese school has shown particular brilliance in an area which many considered to be the most difficult of the whole discipline, namely number theory (works of Hua Luogeng,lZ7 of Wang Yuan on diophantine equations). At the same time, the authorities tried to promote operations research in order to rationalise Chinese economics. Great mathematicians such as Hua Luogeng were associated with the movement.128 Finally, from 1911 onwards,

Qing.lg ''See the statistical study by Wang Ping (3') 1976, based on the Chouren zhuan. ''The term chouren is not found in anv of the Ten Com~utationdCanons. As far as mathematical works prior to the 16th century are concerned, it apparently only occurs in Qin Jiushao's preface to the Shushu jiuzhang (Cf. Libbrecht, op. cit., p. 58). 12End of the foreword to the Chouren zhuan entitled Chouren jze (explanation of the term chouren). 13See note 6, above. l4 CRZ3B, j. 5, p. 799. 15Li Yan, ZSSLC-T,

fact that, even under the Tang, the number of students of mathematics, which was already small to start with (thirty students of this discipline, compared with a total of a thousand for all others in 656), decreased steadily.38 After 1113, although the system of literary examinations was deeply and firmly entrenched in Chinese society, the teaching of mathematics disappeared; mathematics did not then figure on the state examination programmes until 1887: Under continuous pressure, t h e throne

be' in classical Chinese.135The translators were unable to find better substitutes for it than demonstratives or transitive verbs such as you, wu and wei. For Graham wei can hardly be called a copula; it has the flavour of an active verb. The same author also states: "In Chinese, the word you is used primarily of concrete things, the English word nothing implies the absence of any entity; the Chinese word wu only the absence of concrete things. This phenomenon might explain the difference in

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