Synopses & Reviews
From the Ishango Bone of central Africa and the Inca quipu of South America to the dawn of modern mathematics, The Crest of the Peacock makes it clear that human beings everywhere have been capable of advanced and innovative mathematical thinking. George Gheverghese Joseph takes us on a breathtaking multicultural tour of the roots and shoots of non-European mathematics. He shows us the deep influence the Egyptians and Babylonians had on the Greeks; the Arabs' major creative contributions; and the astounding range of successes of the great civilizations of India and China. This challenging and erudite book questions familiar assumptions and enlarges our sense of what we mean by mathematics.
Review
"What is valuable here is the unified approach that Joseph brings . . . and the non-technical clarity that the attempt to reorder historical priorities and educate his readers out of their European prejudices requires."
--The Times Literary Supplement
Review
"A magnificent contribution. . . . The conventional wisdom being challenged is that there is one mathematics, largely invented by Europeans. Joseph demonstrates convincingly that the conventional wisdom is false. . . . A rich and fascinating canvas."
--Race and Class
Review
"If only this book had been available when I was a student!. . . This book will carry you to a deeper place: an appreciation of the many non-European roots of mathematics."
--Jerry Lenz, Mathematics Teacher
Review
"Enthralling. . . . After reading it, we cannot see the past in the same comforting haze of age-old stories, faithfully and uncritically retold from teacher to pupil down the years. . . . Invaluable for mathematics teachers at all levels."
--New Scientist
Synopsis
The author guides a breathtaking multicultural tour of the roots and shoots of non-European mathematics, revealing the deep influence the Egyptians and Babylonians had on the Greeks, the Arabs' major creative contributions, and the astounding range of successes of the great civilizations of India and China.
About the Author
George Gheverghese Joseph was born in Kerala, southern India, and lived in India for nine years. His family then moved to Mombassa in Kenya, where he received his schooling. He studied at the University of Leicester, and later at the University of Manchester, where he completed his postgraduate studies. He has worked in various occupations that have taken him to places all over the world, including East and Central Africa, India, Papua New Guinea, and South East Asia.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements xi
Preface to the First Edition xii
Preface to the Second Edition xvii
Chapter 1: The History of Mathematics: Alternative Perspectives 1
A Justification for This Book 1
The Development of Mathematical Knowledge 3
Mathematical Signposts and Transmissions Across the Ages 12
Chapter 2: Mathematics from Bones, Strings and Standing Stones 23
Beginnings: The Ishango Bone 23
Knotted Strings from South America: The Inca Quipu 28
The Emergence of Written Number Systems: A Digression 41
Mayan Numeration 49
Chapter 3 The Beginnings of Written Mathematics: Egypt 57
The Urban Revolution and its African Origins 57
Sources of Egyptian Mathematics 59
Number Recording Among the Egyptians 61
Egyptian Arithmetic 63
Egyptian Algebra: The Beginnings of Rhetorical Algebra 76
Egyptian Geometry 81
Chapter 4 The Beginnings of Written Mathematics: Babylonia 91
Sources of Babylonian Mathematics 95
The Babylonian Number System 96
Babylonian Algebra 108
Babylonian Geometry 113
Chapter 5 Egyptian and Babylonian Mathematics: An Assessment 125
Chapter 6 Ancient Chinese Mathematics 130
Background and Sources 130
The Development of Chinese Numerals 140
Chinese Magic Squares (and Other Designs) 148
Mathematics from the Chiu Chang 156
Chapter 7 Special Topics in Chinese Mathematics 178
The 'Piling-up of Rectangles': The Pythagorean Theorem in China 180
Estimation of tt 188
Solution of Higher-order Equations and Pascal's Triangle 197
Indeterminate Analysis in China 205
Chinese Mathematics: A Final Assessment 211
Chapter 8 Ancient Indian Mathematics 215
A Restatement of Intent and a Brief Historical Sketch 215
Maths from Bricks: Evidence from the Harappan Culture 221
Mathematics from the Vedas 224
Early Indian Numerals and Their Development 239
Jaina Mathematics 249
Mathematics on the Eve of the Classical Period 256
Chapter 9 Indian Mathematics: The Classical Period and After 264
Major Indian Mathematician-Astronomers 265
Indian Algebra 272
Indian Trigonometry 280
Kerala Mathematics 286
Other Notable Contributions 294
Chapter 10 Prelude to Modern Mathematics: The Arab Contribution 301
Historical Background 301
Major Arab Mathematicians 304
The Arab Role in the Rise and Spread of Indian Numerals 311
Arab Arithmetic 316
Arab Algebra 324
Arab Geometry 333
Arab Trigonometry 338
The Arab Conhibution: A Final Assessment 344
Reflections 349
The History of Mathematics: Alternative Perspectives 349
Mathematics from Bones, Strings and Standing Stones 357
The Beginnings of Written Mathematics: Egypt 369
The Beginnings of Written Mathematics: Babylonia 377
Ancient Chinese Mathematics 385
Special Topics in Chinese Mathematics 389
Ancient Indian Mathematics 395
Indian Mathematics: The Classical Period and After 406
Prelude to Modem Mathematics: The Arab Contribution 417
Bibliography 425
Name Index 441
Subject Index 447