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Sherlock Holmes in Babylon

by R. Creighton Buck

Year of Award: 1981

Award: Lester R. Ford

Publication Information: The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 87, 1980, pp. 335-345

Summary: This paper on the archaeology of mathematics retraces a portion of the research of Otto Neugebauer and Abraham Sachs on a 3,700 year-old cuneiform tablet from central Mesopotamia.

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About the Author: (from The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 87, (1980)) R. Creighton Buck received an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1942 and went to Harvard as a Member of the Society of Fellows. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard with a thesis consisting mostly of published paper. He taught at Brown, 1947-1950; since then he has been at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, except for a year at Stanford as a Guggenheim Fellow and a year at Princeton as a staff member of Project FOCUS. His mathematical interests were originally in classical complex analysis but are now more in modern analysis and approximation theory; he has also published papers in algebra and number theory and has written several textbooks. He considers himself to be a “friend of Applied Mathematics” and as such was for a time Director of the Mathematical Research Center in Madison. He has been active in both the AMS and MAA; he has served as Vice-President of each and was Chairman of CUPM, 1959-63. This paper is based on an invited address to the MAA, given in Biloxi in January 1979.


Subject classification(s): Mathematics History
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, September 24, 2008