Friday, April 6, 2007

The History of Mathematics

Is a book I just found in the library. It caught my eye because the forward is by Isaac Asimov the most prolific writer ever.

It is starting out in Egypt, and how they developed geometry. He discusses two major theories of why they developed geometry:
1) because they needed it to determine where everyones land was after the annual flooding of the Nile
2) because the priests had leisure time to think about such concepts.

To my mind it has to be both. There has to be a need defined, how much land was redeposited and who owns and what recompense needs to be made to those who lost land and what extra taxes need to assessed to those now with more land.

There also needs to be time to think about and develop the rules to solve the problem and do it right each time.

The pursuit of math for maths sake or anything for that matter has been a conceit of the modern world. Most people like to solve problems not just create castles in the air just because it is interesting, but because it put food on the table.

I'll be commenting on this book from time to time. It does look interesting.

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