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Sherlock Holmes in Babylon
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Book description

This book is a collection of 44 articles on the history of mathematics, published in MAA journals over the past 100 years. Covering a span of almost 4000 years, from the ancient Babylonians to the eighteenth century, it chronicles the enormous changes in mathematical thinking over this time, as viewed by distinguished historians of mathematics from the past (Florian Cajori, Max Dehn, David Eugene Smith, Julian Lowell Coolidge, and Carl Boyer etc.) and the present. Each of the four sections of the book (Ancient Mathematics, Medieval and Renaissance Mathematics, The Seventeenth Century, The Eighteenth Century) is preceded by a Foreword, in which the articles are put into historical context, and followed by an Afterword, in which they are reviewed in the light of current historical scholarship. In more than one case, two articles on the same topic are included, to show how knowledge and views about the topic changed over the years. This book will be enjoyed by anyone interested in mathematics and its history—and in particular by mathematics teachers at secondary, college, and university levels.


Isaac Newton and Leonhard Euler claim more attention than any other historical figures. Both merit an extended survey article as well as individual essays examining their contributions to particular areas of knowledge….It is Euler above all who emerges as a vital and inspirational historical figures whose boldness and imagination can still motivate an intuitive spark in today's students. For these essays alone this book would be worth its price. but there is more besides. I can highly recommend it for your library.

Gerry Leversha Source: The Mathematical Gazette

Many of the articles in the book would be of interest not only to mathematicians, but also to our students. In particular, I am already planning that the next time I teach a course in number theory, I will show the students the final article in the book: Howard Edwards' account of Euler's statement of the quadratic reciprocity Theorem, and the calculations that brought it about. I imagine that anyone reading this book will find similar uses inside the classroom...I cannot imagine anyone who will not find at least a few of these articles to contain new and interesting information, and as such it is a book worth adding to your collection.

Darren Glass Source: MAA Reviews Online

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