A Brief History of Mathematical Thought : Key concepts and where they come from
by Luke Heaton
Editor: Little, Brown Book Group
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Mathematics is a product of human culture which has developed together with our attempts to understand the world around usIn A Brief History of Mathematical Thinking, Luc Heaton explores how the language of mathematics has evolved over time, enabling new technologies and shaping people’s thinking.From the Stone Age rituals to algebra, calculus, and the notion of calculus, Heaton shows the enormous influence of mathematics on science, philosophy and the broadest of human historyThe book traces the fascinating history of mathematics, of practice, focusing on the impact of major conceptual innovationsIts structure of thirteen chapters divided into four sections is dictated by a combination of history and thematic considerationsIn the first section, Heaton illuminates the concept of numberHe begins with a speculative and rhetorical account of the prehistory of rituals, before describing the practices of mathematics in Ancient Egypt, Babylon and GreeceThen he examines the relationship between counting and the continuum of measurement, and explains how the rise of algebra, radically transformed our worldIn the second section he explores the origins of computation and the conceptual change that accompanied the birth of non-Euclidean geometriesIn the third section, he questions the concept of infinity and the basic principles of formal logicFinally, in section four, he considers the limits of formal proof, and the role of mathematics in the pursuit of our attempt to understand the world around usThe history of mathematics which is fascinating in his own right but Heaton does more than simply describe a history of mathematical ideasMore importantly, it clearly shows how the history and philosophy of mathematics provides a valuable perspective on human nature
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