Drawing the Soul Toward Truth: The Math of Ancient Greece

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In my previous posts on the history of math, one theme that came up repeatedly was that the same mathematical ideas arose again and again in different periods and in different cultures. Classic examples of this include the decimal system of numeration, the concept of zero, the basic operations, and even more advanced ideas such as the Pythagorean theorem.

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Algebra and Restoration

In the final chapter of The Crest of the Peacock, Joseph explores the mathematical contributions of the Islamic world, covering the eighth through the thirteenth centuries. One of the central players in this history was Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who was born in present day Iraq around 780.

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Kerala and the Case for Transmission

Last week I wrote about ancient Indian math, which George Gheverghese Joseph covers in the eight and ninth chapters of The Crest of the Peacock. In the tenth chapter Joseph turns his attention to Kerala, on the southwestern tip of the Indian subcontinent.

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What the Ancient Indians Knew

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In the eighth and ninth chapters of The Crest of the Peacock, George Gheverghese Joseph turns his attention to the mathematical history of India.

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Good Mathematicians Use Counting Rods

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In my previous posts on The Crest of the Peacock by George Gheverghese Joseph, I summarized the mathematical developments of several pre-Colombian American cultures and of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures.

In the case of the former, it was clear that the math that developed there did so in isolation. In the case of the latter, we can trace clear connections with the West. China, where the book next turns its focus, is more ambiguous.

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From Egyptian Frustums to Babylonian Sexagesimal

Before diving into the mathematics of the ancient Egyptians, here’s an important question: Were they African? Let’s check a map:

egypt in africa

Ah, OK.

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When Clyde Died

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A year ago today, my grandpa died. I wrote this essay shortly after, while the memory of his life and the experience of observing his death were still fresh in mind.

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Math Before Math Was Math

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For many people, the basic story of the history of mathematics is that Greeks came up with a bunch of cool stuff, it was forgotten for a long time, and then Europeans rediscovered Greek knowledge and ran with it from the Renaissance onward. But maybe that’s not exactly right.

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The Books I Read in 2018

I only finished a handful of books this year. I’ve listed them below, along with a few thoughts that I took away. There were also a few children’s books that stuck out to me, and so I’ve listed those, too.

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Where Our Donations Went in 2018

I know it seems arrogant to tell other people about your own charity. Not only am I bragging about having a few extra dollars to give away, but I’m even more superior because I’m using it to feed the hungry! Or cure malaria! Or whatever! For a couple reasons, though, this is a risk I’m willing to take.

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