In this translation from the 1986 French work, Dahan-Dalmedico and Peiffer (both, CNRS, French National Center for Scientific Research) provide a concise yet relatively detailed history of mathematics from antiquity to the beginning of the 20th century. The organization of the book is topical rather than strictly chronological, with an emphasis on describing the particular mathematical ideas of individuals and how they relate to one another. The authors provide considerable discussion of the early Arab contribution, particularly to algebra, and how, from 400 to 200, Arab scholars managed to retain and augment the tradition of ancient Greek mathematics. Also noteworthy is the treatment of the early development of analysis, particularly notions of limits. However, the authors do not pretend to give a comprehensive history; there are no accounts of either topology or probability theory (or much applied mathematics, for that matter). The only references appear in a brief bibliography of general texts in English, provided by the translator. Nonetheless, this is a serious, mathematics-driven account, suitable for academic students. Summing up: Recommended. Academic libraries serving lower-division undergraduates through graduate students. --S.J. Colley, Oberlin College, CHOICE Magazine
As the title suggest the book traces developments in the history of mathematics from its beginnings, although not always following the most obvious paths. Within eight chapters, the authors interweave many interesting and less well known snippets of mathematical history following a historical time line from the Babylonians through to a discussion on present day Algebraic Structures.
The history of mathematics is vast and it is difficult to capture it all in one book. However, the authors highlight some of the main highways and then takes time to journey down some lesser known side streets; I feel this works well. ...
Throughout the book there are illustrations of mathematics to give concrete examples of the sort of work that was going on at that time. In Chapter 6, The Concept of Function and the Development of Analysis, the authors start in Babylonian mathematics with the construction of sexagesimal for reciprocals, squares, square roots, and many more, then journey through to Lebesgue-Integrable Functions. Along the way they discuss Galioleo's formula of 1623 from the book II Saggiatore: 'The great book of the universe...is written in mathematical language." We are told that linked to Galileo's need to experiment, is the astronomers wish to calculate, resulting in the development by Napier and others of Logarithmic tables. As we journey through the development of functions in this chapter we gain a greater understanding of Euler's part in this and also the work of others, such as Fourier...
The book gives a sense of flow to mathematics over the years; it will be of interest to those mathematicians who wish to gain an understanding of how events in mathematical history have interplayed to create the whole picture. I enjoyed the links made to other developments and the ideas of how the body of knowledge grew over collective generations. --Steve Humble, Mathematics Today
This book is arranged to show the development of the different branches of mathematics over time and contains many illustrations to support the text. In all, a short, innovative and easy-to-read history of mathematics.