By Leo Corry

ISBN-10: 0191007064

ISBN-13: 9780191007064

The area round us is saturated with numbers. they're a primary pillar of our glossy society, and approved and used with infrequently a moment proposal. yet how did this situation turn out to be? during this publication, Leo Corry tells the tale at the back of the belief of quantity from the early days of the Pythagoreans, up until eventually the flip of the 20 th century. He provides an summary of the way numbers have been dealt with and conceived in classical Greek arithmetic, within the arithmetic of Islam, in ecu arithmetic of the center a while and the Renaissance, through the clinical revolution, all through to the maths of the 18th to the early twentieth century. targeting either foundational debates and sensible use numbers, and exhibiting how the tale of numbers is in detail associated with that of the assumption of equation, this publication presents a useful perception to numbers for undergraduate scholars, lecturers, engineers, specialist mathematicians, and a person with an curiosity within the historical past of arithmetic.

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**Sample text**

The rise and development of the idea of 0, and its incorporation into the decimal–positional system, as well as the realization of the idea of 0 as a number in its own right, are all historical developments of great importance and interest in our story. Historians of mathematics have devoted attention to them, and we will also touch upon them in various places throughout the book. It is important to stress that the use of the positional system requires a choice of base. This is an arbitrary, or at least contingent, choice in the sense that there are no clear-cut mathematical reasons for necessarily preferring one over the other.

Each slave would indeed receive the stipulated 58 of a loaf. In the unit fraction system, however, we ﬁnd a much more natural way to approach this practical problem: we can simply cut four of the loaves into halves, and the remaining loaf into eight pieces. In this way, each slave will receive one half and one eighth of a loaf, namely, 12 + 18 . Of course, in purely arithmetical terms 12 + 18 = 58 . But in the realworld situation involved, we have two diﬀerent ways to approach it, one being more natural and directly appropriate for the problem than the other.

14159 . . ). The insight that integers and fractions can be written according to the same principles played a major historical role in allowing a broad, uniﬁed vision of number. Moreover, this insight teaches an important lesson about the developments we want to consider in this book, because the logic of numbers and the logic of history did not work in parallel here. Indeed, it was not the case that ﬁrst a clear idea developed of fractions and integers being entities of a same generic type (numbers) and thereafter a notational system developed for conveniently expressing this idea.

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