Cover image for Mathematics across cultures : the history of non-western mathematics
Mathematics across cultures : the history of non-western mathematics
Selin, Helaine, 1946-
Publication Information:
Dordrecht ; Boston : Kluwer Academic, [2000]

Physical Description:
xx, 479 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA21 .M3612 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



Mathematics Across Cultures: A History of Non-Western Mathematics consists of essays dealing with the mathematical knowledge and beliefs of cultures outside the United States and Europe. In addition to articles surveying Islamic, Chinese, Native American, Aboriginal Australian, Inca, Egyptian, and African mathematics, among others, the book includes essays on Rationality, Logic and Mathematics, and the transfer of knowledge from East to West. The essays address the connections between science and culture and relate the mathematical practices to the cultures which produced them. Each essay is well illustrated and contains an extensive bibliography. Because the geographic range is global, the book fills a gap in both the history of science and in cultural studies. It should find a place on the bookshelves of advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and scholars, as well as in libraries serving those groups.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In recent years the study of the distinct mathematics of non-European cultures, past and present, has received increased attention; the present work is a valuable, if uneven, contribution. The definition of mathematics is broadened to include "the study of measurements, forms, patterns, variability and change" to the extent that "every culture has mathematics." Thus, among the 20 contributions are topics that are not normally considered part of mathematics, such as the genealogy of Australian aborigines and their land-ownership customs, or the construction of tepees by the Sioux. Among the six non-culture-specific articles, "Rationality and the Disunity of the Science" argues that scientific knowledge is local and that its apparent universality depends on effective persuasion. "Logics and Mathematics" challenges the assumption that Kantian logic alone generates and justifies knowledge and certainty. The various descriptions of Egyptian, Islam, Hebrew traditional, Inca, and Indian mathematics, as well as Chinese astronomical mathematics, require some mathematical (in the traditional sense) understanding. Those of Iraq, Mesoamerica, the Pacific cultures, and central and southern Africa appeal more for their aesthetics. All articles end with extensive bibliographies. Some contributions occasionally lapse into gratuitous politically correct comments. General readers; undergraduates. J. Mayer formerly, Lebanon Valley College

Table of Contents

IntroductionH. Selin
List of Contributors
Communicating Mathematics Across Culture and TimeL.N Wood
Anthropological Perspectives on EthnomathematicsR. Eglash
East and WestE.J. Van Kley
Rationality and the Disunity of the SciencesD. Turnbull
Logics and Mathematics: Challenges Arising in Working across CulturesH. Verran
A Historiographical Proposal for Non-Western MathematicsU. D'Ambrosio
The Uses of Mathematics in Ancient Iraq, 6000-600 BCE. Robson
Egyptian MathematicsJ. Ritter
Islamic MathematicsJ. Sesiano
The Hebrew Mathematical TraditionY.T. Langermann and S. Simonson
Inca MathematicsT.E. Gilsdorf
Mesoamerican MathematicsM.P. Closs
The Ethnomathematics of the Sioux Tipi and ConeD.C. Orey
Traditional Mathematics in Pacific CulturesW.S. Sizer
Australian Aboriginal Mathematics: Disparate Mathematics of Land OwnershipH. Verran
On Mathematical Ideas in Cultural Traditions of Central and Southern AfricaP. Gerdes
Accounting Mathematics in West Africa: Some Stories of Yoruba NumberH. Verran
Chinese Mathematical AstronomyJ.-C. Martzloff
The Mathematical Accomplishment of Ancient Indian MathematiciansT.K. Puttaswamy
The Dawn of Wasan (Japanese Mathematics)J. Shigeru
Developments of Materials for Ethnomathematics in KoreaK.S. Hwan