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Who Gave You the Epsilon? Cauchy and the Origins of Rigorous Calculus

by Judith Grabiner

Year of Award: 1984

Award: Lester R. Ford

Publication Information: The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 91, 1983, pp. 185-194

Summary: This paper recounts the history of how calculus came to get a rigorous basis in terms of the algebra of inequalities.  The result is a brief history of the 150 years from Newton/Leibniz to Cauchy that produced the foundations of analysis.

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About the Author: (from The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 90, (1983)) Judith Grabiner has taught the history of science since 1972 at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where she is Professor of History. After getting a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. (1966) at Harvard University. She is Book Review Editor of Historia Mathematica, Chairman of the Southern California Section of the Mathematical Association of America, and the author of The Origins of Cauchy’s Rigorous Calculus (M.I.T. Press, 1981). In 1982-1983 she was Visiting Professor of History at U.C.L.A.


Subject classification(s): Mathematics History
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, September 23, 2008