40 years of History
In Our Time Selections
BSHM Undergraduate Essay Prize 2014/15
The winner of the 2014/15 BSHM undergraduate essay prize is Edwin Reynolds, an Oxford University maths student, whose essay title was:
‘To What Extent Were the Contributions of Cauchy to the Development of Rigour in Analysis Influenced by Those of Lagrange?'
Second Hand Books
BSHM currently holds about 100 second hand mathematical texts of various kinds. These were the property of a number of members, now deceased.
These books are essentially ‘free’ but anyone wanting any is asked to cover the costs of postage and packing, if any. They may also wish to make a small contribution to BSHM funds.
We would like this exercise to be complete by the end of July – after which the remaining books will have to go for disposal. If you intend to react, please do so sooner rather than later!
List of Books
MATHSWORLDUK exists to excite and engage everyone, especially the young, with the fascination and power of Mathematics.
MATHSWORLDUK aims to establish an exciting, interactive Exploratorium showcasing the patterns, structures, discoveries, applications and people of Mathematics.
RIP Graham Flegg
Your Council announces, with deep regret, the death on 16th March 2015 of Graham Flegg, aged 90, President of BSHM 1980 to 1982.
He joined the OU when it was founded in 1969 and worked there until he retired.
He wrote several books, incuding: "From Geometry to Topology", "Boolean Algebra", "Numbers Through the Ages" and "Numbers: Their History and Meaning".
2015 Thomas Harriot Lecture
The 2015 Thomas Harriot Lecture will take place at 5pm on Thursday 28 May 2015 in the Champneys Room, Oriel College, Oxford.
The lecturer will be Dr Stephen Clucas, Reader in early Modern Intellectual History at Birkbeck College.
This year's lecture lecture will celebrate 25 years of a series inaugurated by Professor David Quinn in 1990.
Dr Clucas's title will be:
"Thomas Harriot in the Twenty-First Century: 25 years of the Harriot Lecture"
The lecture will be followed at 6pm by an informal drinks reception in the Champneys Room.
For further information, please contact Professor Robert Fox (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Note: for BSHM members: Thomas Harriot was, of course, an interest of recently deceased Jacqueline Stedall, and Dr Clucas will no doubt mention her work).
Jackie Stedall talks about Thomas Harriot
The manuscripts of Thomas Harriot (1560–1621)
The Greate Invention of Algebra Thomas Harriot's Treatise on equations by Jacqueline A. Stedall
This is a work of evident love and outstanding scholarship and I am sure it will do a great deal to advance the reputation of Thomas Harriot. It will, I believe, be acclaimed by academic historians and will become a seminal text for future research. (The Mathematical Gazette)
Stedall is an author to watch ... this is a book that should be in any library that tries to have a complete set of historical source material. (MAA Online)
Portuguese Mathematical Society: the Stamp Website
Philamat: Mathematics – a philatelic history
BSHM President's Report for 2014
Robin Wilson gives his President's report for 2014.
RIP Ivor Grattan-Guinness
Your Council announces, with deep regret, the death on 12th December of Ivor Grattan-Guinness, President of BSHM 1986-1989.
The Guardian obituary.
RIP Jackie Stedall
Former BSHM Council member and BSHM Bulletin editor Jacqueline (‘Jackie’) Stedall died on 27 September 2014.
Guardian obituary, written by Peter Neumann.
BSHM/CSHPM Joint Meeting in North America 2015
Washington, DC, USA, 5th-8th August 2015.
Call for Papers from the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics (CSHPM) to be presented at this joint meeting.
Abstracts (250 words or less) should be submitted by the deadline of 15 February 2015 ,
More details in due course.
First Female Fields Medal Winner
An Iranian mathematician, Prof Maryam Mirzakhani, working in the US has become the first ever female winner of the celebrated Fields Medal.
Sarah Hart, Professor of Mathematics at Birkbeck College London, and BSHM Council member, gives her reaction to the BBC.
Theorem of the Day
Robin Whity provides lots of colour, lots of pictures and lots of theorems!
Lots of historical background interwoven with everything else in THEOREM OF THE DAY.
LSBU Maths Study Group
Carrie Rutherford (London South Bank University) organises a weekly informal Maths Study Group for mathematically-minded people from many walks of life, late Wednesday afternoons.
All aspects of mathematics, including historical, are discussed over tea and cake, followed by an expository talk with the aim of increasing everybody's mathematical general knowledge..
The ten year anniversary of this group was recently reached, marked by a talk by Peter Cameron (St Andrews and Queen Mary).
Welcome to the Maths Study Group
Robert Recorde - What's the problem?
One man/woman shows touring primary schools presenting Welsh history with fun and excitement.
"In Character" is a new company based in Cardiff which provides dramatic costumed performances based on characters from Welsh history.
A one hour show based on Robert Recorde is one of the shows that can be booked by a school.
In this humorous show the pupils will assist Robert with visual and interactive mathematical problems using various methods and strategies.
As the problems are solved they will learn more about this fascinating Welshman and his incredible legacy which forms part of our everyday lives.
Each of the shows has been specifically devised to provide a fun-filled hour of learning and entertainment for children at key stage 2, where they are given opportunities to participate.
Each show is available in either Welsh or English.
Statisticians helped locate an Air France plane in 2011 which was missing for two years.
Could mathematical techniques inspired by an 18th Century Presbyterian minister be used to locate the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370?
BBC News Story
BSHM NEUMANN PRIZE 2013
The British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) has announced the winner of the 2013 Neumann Prize. This prize, named after Oxford mathematician and past BSHM President Dr Peter Neumann, OBE, is awarded every two years for the best mathematics book containing historical material and aimed at a non-specialist readership.
The 2013 winner is Jacqueline Stedall, of Oxford University, for her book The History of Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012). The nominating committee praised the book as ‘stimulating, very well written, and very suitable for the ‘general reader’, also containing many new and perceptive remarks about how to approach the subject'. The award was made at a joint BSHM–Gresham College meeting on 31 October.
Two further books received special mention: Ian Stewart’s 17 Equations that Changed the World (Profile) and Glen Van Brummelen’s Heavenly Mathematics (Princeton).
WolframAlpha's historical timeline for the delevopment of computable knowledge.
- 20,000 BC: Arithmetic. The invention of arithmetic provides a way to abstractly compute numbers of objects.
- 2500 BC: Sumerian Calendar. The first known calendar system is established, rounding the lunar month to 30 days to create a 360-day year.
- 1800 BC: Babylonian Census. The Babylonian census begins the practice of systematically counting and recording people and commodities for taxation and other purposes.
- 1700 BC: Babylonian Mathematical Tables. Babylonians make tables of multiplication, reciprocals, squares, cubes, and square and cube roots.
- 1150 BC: Egyptian Maps. The Turin Papyrus is the first known topographic map.
- 300 BC: Euclid. Euclid writes his Elements, systematically presenting theorems of geometry and arithmetic.
- 150: Ptolemy. Ptolemy's Almagest introduces epicycles to describe the detailed motion of planets.
- 825: Hindu-Arabic Numerals. Decimal place-value notation from India appears in Persian mathematician al-Khwarizmi's book on mathematical algorithms.
- 1614: John Napier. John Napier publishes the first tables of logarithms.
- 1687: Isaac Newton. Newton introduces the idea that mathematical rules can be used to systematically compute the behavior of systems in nature.
- 1801: Joseph Marie Jacquard. The Jacquard loom weaves patterns specified by punched cards.
- 1872: Lord Kelvin. Lord Kelvin creates an analog computer for predicting ocean tides.
- 1890: Herman Hollerith. Hollerith puts all the data from the US Census onto punched cards, which can then be tabulated automatically. The company he started is an ancestor of IBM.
- 1900: National Physical Laboratory; National Bureau of Standards. NPL in the UK and NBS in the US are founded to make measurements and standards using methods from physics.
- 1936: Alan Turing. Turing shows that any reasonable computation can be done by programming a fixed universal machine—and then speculated that such a machine could emulate the brain.
- 1940s: Digital Computers. The arrival of digital electronic computers provides the mechanism by which computations of all kinds can be automated with increasing efficiency.
- 1953: DNA Structure. James Watson and Francis Crick discover that DNA contains a digital genetic code.
- 1964: Abramowitz and Stegun.The National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) publishes tables and properties of many higher mathematical functions.
- 2000: Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey spends nearly a decade automatically mapping visible objects in the astronomical universe.
A Brief History of Mathematics - ten 15-minute BBC radio broadcasts still available from the BBC website.
Professor Marcus du Sautoy argues that mathematics is the driving force behind modern science.
Ten fifteen minute programmes that reveal the personalities behind the calculations from Newton to the present day.
How do these masters of abstraction find a role in the real world?
- 01. Newton and Leibniz
- The battle over the calculus.
How the great hero of British science is rather less gentlemanly than his German rival.
An astronaut and investment analyst pay homage to the enormous power of the calculus.
- 02. Leonard Euler
- The man who calculated as other men breathe.
The mathematical omnivore without whom no history of mathematics is complete.
- 03. Joseph Fourier
- The life and mathematics of this Napoleonic soldier.
With contributions from musician Brian Eno who loves Fourier's analysis and uses it to create sounds that have never been heard before.
- 04. Evariste Galois
An angry, young genius who did his best maths in prison and died in a duel, aged 20.
- 05. Carl Friedrich Gauss
- The 19th century mathematical celebrity.
How a study of asteroids led Gauss to describe the normal distribution.
With contributions from Chairman for the Commission for Racial Equality Trevor Phillips, who believes statistics are the most powerful weapon we have for fighting prejudice.
- 06. The Mathematicians who helped Einstein
- Seeing in four dimensions.
The pioneers who pushed mathematics into new dimensions and the strange new geometries they created.
Emeritus Professor Roger Penrose confirms that even Einstein sometimes struggled with his maths.
- 07. Georg Cantor
- Seeing in four dimensions.
The troubled life of this radical mathematician who shocked his colleagues by proving there's more than one infinity.
With contributions from Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Roger Penrose.
- 08. Henri Poincare
- An embarassing error and the mathematics of chaos.
How a mistake in Poincare's working led him to an astonishing conclusion: some mathematical problems don't have a reliable solution.
- 09. Hardy and Ramanujan
- A mathematical romance.
How a passion for prime numbers united a Cambridge professor and an unknown Indian clerk.
- 10. Nicolas Bourbaki
- The mathematician that never was.
The life and mathematics of an elusive hero.
The collected works of Bourbaki represents one of the most ambitious enterprises in mathematical history: an attempt to unify shapes and numbers into single discipline.
PODCASTS & DOWNLOADS of all these are available from the BBC website
Peter Rowlett is the BSHM expert on "the unplanned impact of mathematics" - mathematics impacting beyond the imaginings of the originator!
After an article in Nature in 2011 by BSHM members, Peter is running a series of short follow up articles in Mathematics Today and is looking for contributors.
Here are some of the preprints:
From Entscheidungsproblem to Colossus
Theory of numbers
Green’s mathematical application to electricity, and beyond
Group Theory and Code Breaking
Bayes’ Theorem meets Cyberspace
Find out more! here
Or you can send Peter a message here
Listen to the BBC 2010 broadcast from "In Our Time": Mathematics' Unintended Consequences
One unplanned impact of compiling this news item was finding a wealth of "In Our Time" broadcasts pertinent to the history of mathematics.
More "In Our Time" Selections below
how to join
(We welcome new ideas and new news. email@example.com ).
Everyday News from BSHM Twitter
The BSHM Twitter account is @mathshistory. https://twitter.com/mathshistory
Two BSHM presidents detail the 40 year history of BSHM
Each day it sends the name and biography of a mathematician who was born or died on that day.
Also, occasional news about forthcoming meetings and lectures.
More than 24,000 followers!
A membership news update
- Subscription renewal. The membership year runs from 1 January to 31 December, so subscription renewal before 1 January is appreciated!
- Do we have your newest e-mail address? (Or any e-mail address?)
- On-line access to Bulletin volumes 1 to 21 now available to members!
BSHM/CSHPM Joint Meeting in North America 2015
Washington, DC, USA, 5th-8th August 2015.
More details in due course.
Listen to some of these broadcasts! BSHM members have participated in many of these! Read more about Unplanned Impact
Fermat's Last Theorem
Godel's Incompleteness Theorems
History and Understanding the Past
History of History
Inspiration and Genius
The Library of Alexandria
Mathematics and Music
Mathematics' Unintended Consequences
Maths and Storytelling
The Measurement of Time
The Measurement Problem in Physics
The Poincaré Conjecture
Ptolemy and Ancient Astronomy
Random and Pseudorandom
Science in the 20th century
The Age of the Universe
The Fibonacci Sequence
The Laws of Motion
The Music of the Spheres
The Physics of Time
The Royal Society
The Scientific Method
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
The Speed of Light
The Universe's Origins
The Universe's Shape
Theories of Everything
The British Society for the History of Mathematics is registered as a company limited by guarantee, no. 3326816, and as a charity, no. 1061229. Its registered office is c/o Andrew Thurburn & Co, 38 Tamworth Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1XU, UK.