


CSHPM Plenary Speaker
 LEN BERGGREN, Simon Fraser University
Currents and countercurrents in the history of mathematics
in medieval Islam
[PDF] 
Among recent changes in approach to history of mathematics in medieval
Islam are: a widened definition of `mathematics' to include its
applications to such religious duties as the times and direction of
prayer and taking mathematical instruments as serious witnesses to
mathematical activity; an argument that in medieval Islam theory
informed and supported practice to a much greater degree than in
ancient Greece (e.g., in arithmetic, architecture and
astronomy); a role for Babylonian mathematics in the origins of
Islamic algebra different from what has been supposed; a close study
of the mathematical achievements and interactions of a number of
individuals; understanding the history of an area such as magic
squares which seems unrelated both to much of which came before it
and (for some centuries) to any social context. We shall conclude
with a consideration of the motivations of medieval and Renaissance
Europe for their acquisition of medieval Islamic mathematics and how
such motives affected what material was selected for acquisition.

