Hirst Lecture and Society Meeting

De Morgan House and Online
Start date
Meeting Date
Karine Chemla (CNRS), Serafina Cuomo (Durham)

Hirst Lecture and Society Meeting

The meeting features the Hirst Lecture 2022, given by the winner of the Joint LMS-BSHM Hirst Prize and Lectureship 2021, Professor Karine Chemla (CNRS).

The Hirst Prize and Lectureship for the History of Mathematics is awarded for contributions to the study of the history of mathematics. The prize will be awarded in recognition of original and innovative work in the history of mathematics, which may be in any medium. This prize is awarded jointly by the LMS and the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

This Society Meeting is being hosted as a hybrid event.

- Registration to attend in-person at De Morgan House, closed at 10.00am (BST) on Wednesday 4 May 2022.

- Registration to attend remotely via Zoom, closed at 11.00am (BST) on Friday 6 May 2022.

Programme (All times are in BST)

2.00 pm: Arrival

2.30 pm: Opening of the meeting.

2.45pm: Serafina Cuomo (Durham)

'Maths and the city. A snapshot of numeracy in classical Athens.'

Abtract: I will explore the various spaces and practices for Athenian numeracy in the 5th and 4th century BCE, and discuss rates of numeracy, and also sketch a profile of who may have been numerate at the time.

3.45 pm: Tea

4.15 pm: Karine Chemla SPHERE (CNRS & Université de Paris)

'Algebraic work with operations in China, 1st century—13th century'

Abstract: Thirteenth century Chinese mathematical works attest to two interesting innovations. Qin Jiushao’s Mathematical Work in Nine Chapters (Shushu Jiuzhang 數書九章, 1247) describes an algorithm solving congruence equations in ways related to the so-called “Chinese remainder theorem”. Moreover, Li Ye’ 李冶 Measuring the Circle on the Sea-Mirror (Ceyuan haijing, 1248) shows how to use polynomial algebra to establish algebraic equations solving mathematical problems. Both authors make use of the same technical expression: “one establishes one heavenly source/origin as… li tian yuan yi wei….” Historians of the past have relied on modern interpretations of the texts to draw the conclusion that, in the two contexts, this expression had different technical meanings. I suggest interpreting this expression in light of the ancient Chinese mathematical canon and its commentaries. This approach allows us to give the same meaning to the expression and, more importantly, to bring to light a tradition of formal work on operations to which a series of Chinese mathematical documents attests.

5.15 pm: Meeting closes - Wine reception.

6.30 pm: Society Dinner will be held at the Antalya Restaurant.