Lengths, Widths, Surfaces

A Portrait of Old Babylonian Algebra and Its Kin

  • Jens Høyrup

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 1-10
  3. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 11-49
  4. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 50-95
  5. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 96-107
  6. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 108-226
  7. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 227-277
  8. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 309-316
  9. Jens Høyrup
    Pages 400-417
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 418-262

About this book


In this examination of the Babylonian cuneiform "algebra" texts, based on a detailed investigation of the terminology and discursive organization of the texts, Jens Høyrup proposes that the traditional interpretation must be rejected. The texts turn out to speak not of pure numbers, but of the dimensions and areas of rectangles and other measurable geometrical magnitudes, often serving as representatives of other magnitudes (prices, workdays, etc...), much as pure numbers represent concrete magnitudes in modern applied algebra. Moreover, the geometrical procedures are seen to be reasoned to the same extent as the solutions of modern equation algebra, though not built on any explicit deductive structure.


algebra algebraic geometry transformation

Authors and affiliations

  • Jens Høyrup
    • 1
  1. 1.Section for Philosophy and Science StudiesUniversity of RoskildeRoskildeDenmark

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4419-2945-7
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4757-3685-4
  • Series Print ISSN 2196-8810
  • Series Online ISSN 2196-8829
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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