Reviving Ancient Chinese Mathematics: Mathematics, History by Jiri Hudecek

By Jiri Hudecek

Twentieth-century China has been stuck among a wish to bring up its wealth and gear in response to different complex countries, which, through implication, potential copying their associations, practices and values, while concurrently looking to defend China’s independence and traditionally shaped id. through the years, chinese language philosophers, writers, artists and politicians have all sought to reconcile those pursuits and this publication exhibits how this look for a chinese language manner penetrated even the main valuable, least contested zone of modernity: science.

Reviving historic chinese language Mathematics

is a examine of the lifetime of certainly one of sleek China’s so much famous clinical figures, the mathematician Wu Wen-Tsun. Negotiating the clash among growth and culture, he came across a course that not just ensured his political and private survival, yet which additionally introduced him renown as a mathematician of overseas prestige who claimed that he stood outdoors the dominant western culture of arithmetic. Wu Wen-Tsun’s tale highlights the most important advancements and contradictions in 20th -century China, the importance of which extends a long way past the sector of arithmetic. On one hand lies the charm of radical medical modernity, "mechanisation" in all its kinds, and competitiveness in the overseas clinical neighborhood. at the different is an anxiousness to maintain nationwide traditions and lead them to a part of the modernisation undertaking. additionally, Wu’s highbrow improvement additionally displays the advanced courting among technological know-how and Maoist ideology, simply because his flip to historical past used to be powered by way of his internalisation of definite elements of Maoist ideology, together with its utilitarian philosophy of science.

This publication lines how Wu controlled to mix political luck and overseas clinical eminence, a narrative that has wider implications for a brand new century of accelerating chinese language task within the sciences. As such, it is going to be of significant curiosity to scholars and students of chinese language background, the historical past of technology and the heritage and philosophy of mathematics.

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Extra info for Reviving Ancient Chinese Mathematics: Mathematics, History and Politics in the Work of Wu Wen-Tsun (Needham Research Institute Series)

Sample text

Wu Wen-Tsun was also assigned to the third section of IMCAS and tried to work on modern applied mathematics. He initially studied queue theory in order to solve problems in operator-connected telephony. IMCAS work reports mention these activities: We familiarized ourselves this year with some actual conditions of tel­ ephony and water reservoir operations for queue theory, getting ready to accept tasks in this area and launch queue-theory research. (Chinese Academy of Sciences 1959) But this effort produced no results, and in 1959 Wu started to explore game theory instead.

When coming upon a problem from practice, regardless of how easy or difficult it is, one should give it a try, and also actively seek problems from people working in practice. (Jiang Zehan, et al. 1958: 47) Hua Loo-Keng wanted to remedy his mistakes from the past year and reaffirm his ideological reliability. The same thing happened to Guan Zhaozhi. His self-evaluation explained: During the Great Leap Forward in 1958, [I] moreover drew a clear line between [my]self and the bourgeois tradition, and started to think about problems of development of the natural sciences according to the needs of the Party’s cause and of the socialist system.

Chow, to whom Wu had been introduced in Shanghai by his friend Zhao Mengyang (see Chapter 2). 24 Wu demonstrated an inclination to set the record straight for his nation and its mathematics, which would manifest itself strongly when he began studying ancient Chinese mathematics. After the Cultural Revolution, Wu published another article on singular­ ities from a topological perspective (Wu Wen-Tsun 1974). His results, already achieved in 1966, had in the meantime been replicated and developed else­ where, albeit by different methods.

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