“Of Numbers’ Use, the Endless Might”: Research at the Intersection of History and Mathematics

AHA Session 19
Friday, January 2, 2015: 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Concourse D (New York Hilton, Concourse Level)
Jessica Marie Otis, Carnegie Mellon University
Programming Proof
Stephanie Dick, Harvard University
Math in/as History
Christopher Phillips, New York University
Jessica Marie Otis, Carnegie Mellon University

Session Abstract

On the surface of things, no two disciplines have less in common than history and mathematics.  One is a textually-based discipline that seeks to understand the peoples and cultures of our past.  The other is a numerically-based discipline that focuses on logically proving abstract conjectures.  Yet not only do mathematics have a history of their own, but they also have made important contributions to the broader study of human history.  Together with the audience, the panelists will discuss the ways in which history and mathematics can fruitfully engage with each other in historical research.

            Mordechai Levy-Eichel will explore the current disjunction between the history of mathematics and intellectual history, and argue for the need to reintegrate them.  Stephanie Dick will examine the early history of computing in order to demonstrate the significance of material culture in the history of mathematics.  Lastly, Christopher J. Phillips will analyze the late twentieth-century "cliometric revolution" in order to explore the position of both mathematics in history and history in mathematics.

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