European Mathematics During the Middle Ages: From Boethius to Fibonacci

The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the late 4th century was followed by abandonment of the Greek sciences and overall decline in mathematical knowledge. Revival of mathematics in Europe began with the translation of Arabic mathematical treatises, including those translated from Greek. The decimal positional numerals spread around Europe since the 12th century after Latin translation of Al Khwarizmi’s arithmetic treatises. In the 11th century, the first universities appeared in Italy, followed by those in France and England in the 12th century. Most significant mathematicians of the eras were Leonardo of Pisa, Thomas Bradwardine, Nicole Oresme and others.


DELIVERY MODE

  • This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom.
  • This course requires students to have an email, a reliable internet connection, a microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


SUGGESTED READING

  • I. G. Bashmakova, G. S. Smirnova. The Beginnings and Evolution of Algebra. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Edward Grant. The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • David C. Lindberg. Science in the middle ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Acquaintance with the history of mathematics of the Medieval Europe.
  • Boethius, the last of antique philosophers. Role of Byzantine scientists in preserving and spreading mathematical knowledge to Arabic countries and Europe.
  • Chronological calculations by Beda Venerabilis (the 7th c). Revival of mathematics during the Carolingian Renaissance. Gerbert of Aurillac’s (Pope Sylvester II) writings on mathematics.
  • Translations of Arabian and Greek mathematical sources: Robert of Chester, Adelard of Bath, Gerard of Cremona, and others. Appearance of positional decimal numeric system. The first universities.
  • Liber Abaci by Leonardo of Pisa and counting of rabbits. Liber Quadratorum by Johann of Palermo. The parsimony principle by William of Occam. The Buridan’s ass paradox named after Jean Buridan.
  • Study of dynamics by Thomas Bradwardine. Nicole Oresme’s works. Development of mathematics during the Late Middle Ages interrupted by the Black Death and other disasters.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Know the main concepts of the Middle Ages European mathematics.
  2. Know their inheritance from Ancient Greek and Eastern mathematics.
  3. Be familiar with the main figures of the eras: Boethius (477–524); Beda Venerabilis (672-735) Gerbert of Aurillac (940-1003, Pope Sylvester II (999-1003)), Leonardo of Pisa (1180-1240), Johann of Palermo, and others.
  4. Understand the problems Medieval mathematicians put forth and solved.
$65 Limited

<p>The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the late 4th century was followed by abandonment of the Greek sciences and overall decline in mathematical knowledge. Revival of mathematics in Europe began

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20 Aug

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