The Good, the Bad, and the Hungry Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire



It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$45.75
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
1 Remote Warehouse Mathematics- History

Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs

by

Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In writing the first book-length study of ancient Egyptian mathematics, Richard Gillings presents evidence that Egyptian achievements in this area are much more substantial than has been previously thought. He does so in a way that will interest not only historians of Egypt and of mathematics, but also people who simply like to manipulate numbers in novel ways. He examines all the extant sources, with particular attention to the most extensive of these--the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, a collection of training exercises for scribes. This papyrus, besides dealing with the practical, commercial computations for which the Egyptians developed their mathematics, also includes a series of abstract numerical problems stated in a more general fashion.The mathematical operations used were extremely limited in number but were adaptable to a great many applications. The Egyptian number system was decimal, with digits sequentially arranged (much like our own, but reading right to left), allowing them to add and subtract with ease. They could multiply any number by two, and to accomplish more extended multiplications made use of a binary process, successively multiplying results by two and adding those partial products that led to the correct result. Division was done in a similar way. They could fully manipulate fractions, even though all of them (with one exception) were expressed in the unwieldy form of sumes of unit fractions--those having "1" as their numerator. (The exception was 2/3. The scribes recognized this as a very special quantity and took 2/3 of integral or fractional numbers whenever the change presented itself in the course of computation.) In expressing a rational quantity as a series of unit fractions, the scribes were generally able to choose a simple and direct solution from among the many--sometimes thousands--that are possible. Doing this without modern computers would seem quite as remarkable as building pyramids without modern machinery.The range of mathematical problems that were solved using these limited operational means is far wider than many historians of mathematics acknowledge. Gillings gives examples showing that the Egyptians were able, for example, to solve problems in direct and inverse proportion; to evaluate certain square roots; to introduce the concept of a "harmonic mean" between two numbers; to solve linear equations of the first degree, and two simultaneous equations, one of the second degree; to find the sum of terms of arithmetic and geometric progressions; to calculate the area of a circle and of cylindrical (possibly even spherical) surfaces; to calculate the volumes of truncated pyramids and cylindrical granaries; and to make use of rudimentary trigonometric functions in describing the slopes of pyramids. The Egyptian accomplishment that historians have tended to repeat uncritically, one after another, is one that Gillings can find no evidence to support: that the Egyptians knew the Pythagorean theorem, at least in the special case of the 3-4-5 right triangle.

Synopsis:

In writing the first book-length study of ancient Egyptian mathematics, Richard Gillings presents evidence that Egyptian achievements in this area are much more substantial than has been previously thought. He does so in a way that will interest not only historians of Egypt and of mathematics, but also people who simply like to manipulate numbers in novel ways. He examines all the extant sources, with particular attention to the most extensive of these--the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, a collection of training exercises for scribes. This papyrus, besides dealing with the practical, commercial computations for which the Egyptians developed their mathematics, also includes a series of abstract numerical problems stated in a more general fashion.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780262571791
Author:
Gillings, Richard J.
Publisher:
The MIT Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
General Mathematics
Subject:
Mathematics - Algebra
Subject:
Mathematics -- History.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs
Publication Date:
20030317
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 17
Language:
English
Pages:
286

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » Algebra » General
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » History

Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$45.75 In Stock
Product details 286 pages MIT Press (MA) - English 9780262571791 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In writing the first book-length study of ancient Egyptian mathematics, Richard Gillings presents evidence that Egyptian achievements in this area are much more substantial than has been previously thought. He does so in a way that will interest not only historians of Egypt and of mathematics, but also people who simply like to manipulate numbers in novel ways. He examines all the extant sources, with particular attention to the most extensive of these--the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, a collection of training exercises for scribes. This papyrus, besides dealing with the practical, commercial computations for which the Egyptians developed their mathematics, also includes a series of abstract numerical problems stated in a more general fashion.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.