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Invited Paper Session Abstracts - Mathematics is Not Done in a Vacuum: Collaborations in Mathematics and History of Mathematics

AMS-MAA Invited Paper Session

Mathematics is Not Done in a Vacuum: Collaborations in Mathematics and History of Mathematics

Please note: all sessions are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT = UTC-4:00)

Friday, August 4, 4:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m., Ballroom A

This invited paper session will feature talks on collaborations. In particular, the talks will focus on collaborations by mathematicians of the past and present-day collaborations by historians of mathematics who study the past. This session will explore the benefits and special challenges that collaborations can bring.

Sloan Evans Despeaux, Western Carolina University

Collaboration in Ancient and Medieval Times

4:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.
Victor Katz, University of the District of Columbia

In modern times, mathematicians collaborate either by physically working together – exchanging ideas – or, more likely, by the use of the internet and various forms of electronic media. But they do this in real time, probably going back and forth frequently within a limited time frame, reading and commenting on each other’s work, each one trying to improve the ultimate product. Of course, mathematicians in ancient times could not do this. In general, the mathematicians we know about were scattered both geographically and temporally. So one person would learn of another’s work through some form of oral or written communication and then react to it. And although sometimes this communication would garble the ideas somewhat, often this form of collaboration was productive. In this talk, we will discuss several examples of this kind of collaboration in ancient times in the eastern Mediterranean and in the medieval period in Europe. In particular, I will show that different languages and cultures ultimately did not prove to be a barrier to collaboration.

Editorial and Epistolary Collaborations Among Mathematicians

4:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Janet Heine Barnett, Colorado State University Pueblo

The publication of research works in various guises plays an important role in the development and dissemination of mathematical ideas. Among the interesting historical examples of collaborations associated with such publications is the editorial work undertaken by Gaston Darboux and Jules Hoüel on the Bulletin des Sciences mathématiques et astronomiques in the decades following its founding in 1870. Another such example is the joint effort of Richard Dedekind and Heinrich Weber to complete the publication of Bernard Riemann’s collected works which began in 1874. These two particular examples are also among the many collaborations that have been carried out by mathematicians primarily through the exchange of letters. In this talk, we consider what editorial and epistolary collaborations such as these may reveal about the benefits and special challenges of mathematical collaborations more generally.

Beginnings: How to Start---and Sustain---a Mathematics Initiative

5:00 p.m. - 5:20 p.m.
Della Dumbaugh, University of Richmond

This talk explores how the American Mathematical Monthly and the Institute for Advanced Study came into existence. Despite the very different aims of the journal and the institute, the similarities and differences of these processes suggest ideas, including collaboration, for starting and sustaining mathematics initiatives.

Collaboration Typologies in 19th-century American Mathematics Textbook Series

5:30 p.m. - 5:50 p.m.
Amy Ackerberg-Hastings, MAA Convergence

Collaborations in the history of mathematics have not necessarily been intentional or even consensual. Indeed, the preparation of American textbook series in the early 19th century involved a wide variety of types of collaboration, such as: administrative collaborations in which the plans and expectations of governing boards did not always align with the educational materials produced by professors; informal collaborations conducted through correspondence networks that exchanged both gossip and advice; unacknowledged collaborations by student translators and other assistants; unwitting collaborations of original authors whose works were appropriated or plagiarized; and promotional collaborations between authors and publishers. The talk will offer several examples of these collaborations and reflect on the use of collaboration as a historiographical construct.