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History of Mathematics: Welcome

Contains background information, major areas of research focused on chronological, geographical or thematic fields. Includes important books, journals and databases in the Linda Hall Library collections. Also mentions our History of Science Collection.

Notes on the History of Mathematics

The Linda Hall Library has very extensive collection resources in the history of mathematics, both in monographs and periodicals.  Resources are especially strong for early development of the infinitesimal calculus in the 17th-20th centuries.

The distinctive character of mathematics dictates difference in methods of historical research, compared to methods and traditions prevalent in the history of the other sciences.  Mathematical theories are assessed by the cogency and rigor of formal proofs and the fruitfulness of mathematical conjectures, not by their experimental agreement with factual experience.

The growth of mathematical ideas is often driven by the need for new conceptual instruments in other sciences, especially physics, and by the need for inventing novel notational means for the expressions of newly discovered conceptions and inferential procedures.

For these reasons the historian of mathematics needs to be aware of parallel developments in other sciences, such as astronomy and physics, which have developed in something like a symbiotic association with the growing body of mathematical discoveries.

The major areas of research are focused on chronological, geographical or thematic fields.  In some works these areas intersect (e.g., history of non-Euclidean geometry in France during the early nineteenth century).

Resident Fellowships

Resident fellowships for the duration of a minimum of 1 week to a maximum of 10 months are offered in support of research projects in science, engineering and technology and their histories; or in interdisciplinary topics that link science or technology to the broader culture.