JournalsowrVol. 8 , No. 1DOI 10.4171/owr/2011/12

Mini-Workshop: History of Numerical and Graphical Tables

  • Renate Tobies

    Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany
  • Dominique Tournès

    Sainte-Clotilde Reunion, France
Mini-Workshop: History of Numerical and Graphical Tables cover

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Abstract

Numerical tables were one of the most commonly used instruments of calculation from the earliest periods for which we have evidence of mathematical activity until the appearance of computing machines. Such tables (including graphical tables) are interesting both as tools of calculation and insofar as traces for certain social and scientific activities of the practitioners by, and for, whom they were produced. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the historical record has preserved thousands of tables from a broad range of civilizations, these tables have themselves received relatively little critical study. Hence, it has seemed to us both useful and innovative to consider the problem of tables in general by bringing together specialists of the different mathematical traditions and of the various professional milieus in which numerical tables have been developed. The workshop allowed us therefore to make significant breakthroughs in our understanding of the places and roles of tables in the history of science, and should bring us to publish a collective book on this subject.