The Mathematical Sciences in Medieval Islam: Continuity, Change, Contrast

Speaker: Glen Van Brummelen

Date: Tue, Mar 30, 2021

Location: University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada, Online

Subject: Mathematics

Class: Scientific


Cultures have their own identity; cultures interact. The medieval period contains within it widely varying cultures in Europe, India, and the middle East. The subject that eventually became modern mathematics did not live in a geographical cocoon during this period; it owes a great deal to several cultures. The journey of mathematics through Islam, for almost a millennium, changed it utterly. The shaping of algebra, the number system, arithmetic, geometry, optics, and mathematical astronomy had a major, yet unseen impact on how we think today. Yet, to understand the accomplishments of the medieval Islamic scientists, we must approach them on their terms. We shall explore some of the roots of modern mathematics, but also try to view the mathematical sciences in medieval Islam with eyes open to their vision --- not ours.​