History of Mathematics by Muhammad Usman Hamid

History of Mathematics by Muhammad Usman Hamid

Mathematics is a unique aspect of human thought, and its history differs in essence from all other histories. These notes are written by Muhammad Usman Hamid. We are very thankful to him for sharing these notes on our website.

Name History of Mathematics
Provider Muhammad Usman Hamid
Pages 133 pages
Format PDF (see Software section for PDF Reader)
Size 1.29 mB

As time goes on, nearly every field of human endeavor is marked by changes which can be considered as correction or extension. Thus, the changes in the evolving history of political and military events are always chaotic; there is no way to predict the rise of a Genghis Khan, for example, or the consequences of the short-lived Mongol Empire.

Other changes are a matter of fashion and subjective opinion. The cave-paintings of 25,000 years ago are generally considered great art, and while art has continuously—even chaotically—changed in the subsequent millennia, there are elements of greatness in all the fashions. Similarly, each society considers its own ways natural and rational, and finds the ways of other societies to be odd, laughable, or repulsive. But only among the sciences is there true progress; only there is the record one of continuous advance toward ever greater heights. And yet, among most branches of science, the process of progress is one of both correction and extension.

Aristotle, one of the greatest minds ever to contemplate physical laws, was quite wrong in his views on falling bodies and had to be corrected by Galileo in the 1590s. Galen, the greatest of ancient physicians, was not allowed to study human cadavers and was quite wrong in his anatomical and physiological conclusions. He had to be corrected by Vesalius in 1543 and Harvey in 1628.

Even Newton, the greatest of all scientists, was wrong in his view of the nature of light, of the achromaticity of lenses, and missed the existence of spectral lines. His masterpiece, the laws of motion and the theory of universal gravitation, had to be modified by Einstein in 1916.

Books Recommended:

  • (i) A History of Mathematics by Uta C. Merzbach and Carl B. Boyer
  • (ii) A History of Mathematics by Florian Cajori