JournalsowrVol. 6 / No. 4DOI 10.4171/owr/2009/47

History and Philosophy of Mathematical Notations and Symbolism

  • Karine Chemla

    Université Paris 7, France
  • Eberhard Knobloch

    Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Antoni Malet

    Universitat Pompeu-Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
History and Philosophy of Mathematical Notations and Symbolism cover

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Abstract

The conference aimed to discuss the nature of mathematical language with the focus set on the history of mathematical symbolism and symbolisation in a wide sense. Its contents were arranged along three main topics—symbolization from Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Indian and Chinese perspectives; algebraic analysis and symbolization in Europe, 1500–1750; the 19th and 20th century. The intention was to deal with the topic extensively, including all kinds of symbolism shaped in various traditions. Major problems addressed by the conference include but are not limited to why specific notations and symbolisms were introduced, how they were designed and how they were used. In addition, the lectures also dealt with the attitudes towards, and reflections on, mathematics and language that their introduction stirred. We hope that the workshop will contribute to shape future research in this domain.