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Mathematical Treasure: 18th-C. Chinese Encyclopedia of Mathematics

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

The Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722) was the fourth ruler of the Qing Dynasty. Deeply interested in learning, particularly knowledge of science and mathematics, he was tutored by Jesuit missionaries. Further he ordered the compilation of Yu zhi shu li jing yun (Comprehensive Mathematical Collection), a multi-volume mathematical encyclopedia completed in 1723. The contents of this work tried to synthesize traditional Chinese mathematics with the new European concepts introduced by the Jesuits. It served as a primary mathematics reference in China until the beginning of the 19th century. The following excerpts are from an 1882 edition of this work. A page of introductory remarks precedes the formal mathematical discussion.


Various mathematical concepts are examined and illustrated by diagrams.




The images above are provided courtesy of Columbia University Libraries.

Index to Mathematical Treasures  

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: 18th-C. Chinese Encyclopedia of Mathematics," Convergence (April 2018)