# The history of mathematics: growth and change: an exhibition of Material from The Monash University Library Rare Book Collection, 2nd - 31st October 1991

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The history of mathematics: growth and change: an exhibition of Material from The Monash University Library Rare Book Collection, 2nd - 31st October 1991

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The exhibition was held in the Rare Books Exhibition space, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University from 2 - 31 October 1991. From Euclid to Poincare, from arithmetic to chaos, from Newton's philosophy explain' d for the use of the ladies to the Young algebraist's companion, the Monash University collection illuminates all facets of mathematical history. The selection in the present exhibition includes some of the great mathematical classics, by Euler, Jacobi, Lagrange, Laplace, Newton and Poincare, mathematically inclined works by famous scientists, philosophers and writers such as Boyle, Descartes, Galileo, Diderot and Voltaire, plus four centuries of other mathematics books, from textbooks to recreations. The oldest book in the mathematics collection is Peurbach' s Elementa arithmetices of 1536, with a preface by Melancthon. It will be noticed that the 16th and 17th century works are less mathematically specialised than we are accustomed to see today. They often mix mathematics with large amounts of physics and astronomy, but of course in those times it was feasible and natural to do all those things together. Even with the advancing specialisation of the 18th and 19th centuries, physics remained a fruitful source of mathematical problems and ideas. The most recent volume in the exhibition, Poincare's Les methodes nouvelles de la mecanique celeste of 1892 testifies to the abiding influence of astronomy on mathematics. In this volume Poincare took the first steps into what is now known as chaos theory. The arrangement of the books is the approximate chronological order of this catalogue, except for a grouping of folio volumes and another grouping of Newtoniana. The information in this catalogue is extracted from History of mathematics and related sciences: an annotated bibliography of sources held by Monash University Library, by Gordon C. Smith, Susan Radvansky and Marta Chiba, edited by John N. Crossley. The figure of Newton towers over the exhibition. The Monash collection of his works is both broad and accessible, including the first English editions of several of his works as well as a Latin Principia (1713). The major items are in the large upright cabinet on the south wall. However, Newton's influence can be seen everywhere among 18th century authors. Interesting examples may be seen by Maclaurin, the blind mathematician Saunderson, and Voltaire. As I said at the beginning, the exhibition shows many facets of mathematics. Here are a few more things to look for: Descartes and Newton explaining the rainbow, the monstrous algebra machine in the Encyclopedie, an early fire engine, Jacobi saving his best result until last in the Fundamenta nova (formula for the number of ways an integer is the sum of four squares) and the great Euler making a blunder (?-2 x ?-3 = ?6).

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English

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24p.

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Text - Monash University Library CC-BY 4.0.
Images - Copyright Not Evaluated

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“The history of mathematics: growth and change: an exhibition of Material from The Monash University Library Rare Book Collection, 2nd - 31st October 1991,”

*Monash Collections Online*, accessed August 10, 2020, http://repository.erc.monash.edu/items/show/13200## Item Relations

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