Old Babylonian “Algebra”: a Global Characterization

  • Jens Høyrup
Chapter
Part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SHMP)

Abstract

Neugebauer, Thureau-Dangin, Gandz, and others spoke without doubt about a Babylonian “algebra”, and the existence of such a thing was accepted without objections from the 1930s through the late 1960s. It was also accepted that this algebra was numerically based — in [1933] Vogel had proposed a geometric interpretation of AO 8862 #1 (the same as described in Figure 29), but in the end even he accepted the numerical interpretation. In [1936], Neugebauer had set forth the further thesis that the “geometric algebra” of Elements II and the “application of an area with deficiency or excess” had been created as a translation into geometry of the findings of Babylonian algebra — a translation that had become necessary if the general validity of the Babylonian results should remain secure after the discovery of incommensurability.[316] Even important among which are the “striped figures”,[314] that is, triangles and trapezia partitioned by parallel transversals, and the special case of the bisected trapezium and its generalization to trapezoids exemplified by YBC 4675.[315]

Keywords

Favourite Problem Algebraic Problem Global Characterization Technical Terminology Theme Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

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

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