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Home > Archives > Previous years: Workshops and Colloquie > Journées et colloques 2018-2019 > David Eugene Smith and the historiography of mathematics

David Eugene Smith and the historiography of mathematics

9-10 January, 2019
University Paris Diderot,
9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Room Mondrian, 646A*

A Conference organized by
(CNRS, CHSA–SPHERE & University Paris Diderot)

To download the program / the program and abstracts


David Eugene Smith (1860-1944), a mathematician, educator, collector, publisher and historian of mathematics, appears as a ubiquitous protagonist in the historiography of ancient mathematics. His name is associated with many of the projects that were developed in the early 20th Century in the United States to popularize mathematical sources from China, Japan, India, Europe and Mesopotamia. He collaborated keenly with scholars from these different geographical areas, traveling to meet them, engaging in correspondence, and collecting mathematical documents and instruments from all over the world. The international scope of his network is abundantly documented by his diverse correspondence, articles, prefaces, books and archives.
However, D.E. Smith’s historiography of mathematics and its worldwide impact have not, so far, been the topic of a systematic study. This conference aims to address these two issues. In particular, the different facets of D.E. Smith’s works and activities related to history of mathematics, mathematics education, publishing houses and collections will be explored in relation to the ways in which these influenced his historiography.
The following questions, among others, could be addressed: What are the specific features of the histories of mathematics produced by D.E. Smith in the context of the early 20th century? How did the different international networks he belonged to (historians of mathematics, collectors, teachers of mathematics) shape the histories he wrote or participated in, and contribute to spreading his vision of the history of mathematics? Is there coherence in Smith’s various engagements, and how does this explain his way of writing the history of mathematics? To what extent are D.E. Smith’s views on the history of arithmetic influential on the current practices of historians and teachers of mathematics?

To download the program / the program and abstracts

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
:: Making the history of mathematics: the role of collectors, collections and publishing houses

  • 11:15-11:30 Introduction
  • 11:30-13:00
    Alexei Volkov (Tsing Hua University, Taiwan) & Viktor Freiman (University of Moncton, Canada)
    D.E. Smith and his study of mathematical textbooks published prior to 1601
  • 14:30-16:00
    Mizuno Hiromi (University of Minnesota, USA) & Karine Chemla (CNRS, SPHERE, & University Paris Diderot)
    The making of David Eugene Smith’s and Mikami Yoshio’s A History of Japanese Mathematics.
    An unequal practice of cooperation in the history of mathematics
  • 16:00-16:15 Pause
  • 16:15-17:45
    Andrea Bréard (University Paris Sud) & Michael Friedman (Humbolt Universität zu Berlin, Deutschland)
    The hidden role of the editor: The influence of D.E. Smith on the (history of the) mathematics of folding

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

:: D.E. Smith’s international networks

  • 9:30–11:00
    Agathe Keller (CNRS, SPHERE) & Catherine Morice-Singh (SPHERE)
    D.E. Smith, his Indian correspondents and the writing of the History of Mathematics in India
  • 11:00-11:30 Pause
  • 11:30–13:00
    Han Qi (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
    D.E. Smith and Li Yan: The early stage in the study of history of Chinese mathematics

:: The impact of the history of mathematics in didactical innovations

  • 14:30–16:00
    Viktor Freiman (University of Moncton, Canada) & Alexei Volkov (National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan)
    D.E. Smith as mathematics educator: his legacy and innovations as seen in connection with the teaching practices of the 19th century
  • 16:00-16:15 Pause
  • 16:15-17:45
    Charlotte de Varent (SPHERE, Université Paris Diderot) & Christine Proust (CNRS, SPHERE)
    The history of mathematics in the context of the first international conferences on mathematical education

17:45 Discussion

18:30 Cocktail

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