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The Lost Calculus (1637-1670): Tangency and Optimization without Limits

by Jeff Suzuki

Year of Award: 2006

Award: Carl B. Allendoerfer

Publication Information: Mathematics Magazine, vol. 78, (2005), pp. 339-353

Summary: An examination of the evolution of the lost calculus from its beginnings in the work of Descartes and its subsequent development by Hudde, and the possibility that nearly every problem of calculus could have been solved using algorithms entirely free from the limit concept.

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About the Author: Jeff Suzuki currently Associate Professor of Mathematics at Brooklyn College, grew up in southern California with an inability to decide what he really wanted to do, so he ended up studying mathematics, science, and history, eventually earning his Bachelor's in mathematics (with a physics concentration) and history from California State University Fullerton.  He went on to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University with a dissertation on the history of the Lagrange-Laplace proof of the long-term stability of the solar system.  He enjoys trying new things, and introducing them to his children William Y and Dorothy X Suzuki-Burke (yes, their middle names are "X" and "Y"), and his wife Jacqui, who are frequently subjected to his culinary, musical, and linguistic efforts.  As a historian of mathematics he is especially interested in the eighteenth century.

Subject classification(s): Mathematics History
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, October 22, 2008