Hardly any math symbols were used before the sixteenth century. What did mathematicians rely on for their work before then? And how did mathematical notations evolve to what we know of today? Enlightening Symbols explains the fascinating history behind the development of our current mathematical notation system, shows how symbols were used initially, how one symbol replaced another over time, and how written math was conveyed before and after symbols became widely adopted.
Traversing mathematical history, and the foundations of numerals in different cultures, Enlightening Symbols looks at how historians have disagreed over the origins of the numerical system for the past two centuries. It follows the transfigurations of algebra, from a rhetorical style to a symbolic one, demonstrating that most of algebra before the sixteenth century was written in prose or in verse employing the written names of numerals. The book also investigates the subconscious and psychological effects that mathematical symbols have had on mathematical thought, moods, meaning, communication, and comprehension. It considers how these symbols influence us (through similarity, association, identity, resemblance, and repeated imagery), how they lead to new ideas by subconscious associations, how they make connections between experience and the unknown, and how they contribute to the communication of basic mathematics.
From words to abbreviations to symbols, this book examines how math evolved to the familiar forms we use today.