The Rise of Explication in the Mathematics of Late Imperial China | Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
When and Where
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Thomson Hall 317
400 Thomson Hall Seattle, WA 98195
Come listen to Jeff Chen, Associate Professor of Mathematics, St. Could State University discuss the textual tradition of Chinese mathematics.
In the textual tradition of Chinese mathematics, reasoning or explanation did not figured prominently with few exceptions. This long-held practice of not including explanations in mathematical works was especially prevalent in treatises composed during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). This began to change however in the first part of the 17thcollaborators embarked on various projects to translate European scientific into Chinese. By the end of the 17th or steps in computational algorithms became a fixture in the main text of most treatises. In this presentation, the comparison will be made of mathematical works in three categories: Ming treatises composed before the arrival of the Jesuits, geometric texts that attempt to make translated works more accessible, and those on traditional subjects with ample explanation in the main texts. The focus of the analysis is on the arrangement of various types of content material
in the main texts in the treatises. Based on our preliminary investigation, our thesis is that the introduction of European mathematics into China served as a catalyst to inspire the emergence in the main texts of explanations, which previously took place in oral exchanges between masters and disciples or in the correspondence between friends. Moreover, the presence of explanations in the text, resembling the commentary and annotations in classical studies, elevated the status of mathematics from a collection of problems and solutions similar to a practitioner’s manual to legitimate intellectual study. We will also examine what explanation in mathematics meant to scholars in the 17th century when the Jesuits and their Chinese century, explanations of underlying principles century.