Talk:History of the function concept

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 Field: History of mathematics (historical)

Leader needed[edit]

Wvbailey wrote the following on the Talk:Function (mathematics) after moving the history over from there, I've copied it verbatim so 'the article' at the end is the function article:- Dmcq (talk) 15:49, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Per discussion above and apparent agreement I moved the history section to History of the function concept. Almost all the references and footnotes when with it. I suggest someone else write the summary, the effort needs new eyes, more a mathematician's eyes than a historian's. Here's a place to start: Historically there are a few deep trends. The first trend began with the intuitive notion of "mathematical formula" aka algebra (i.e. symbols as "unknowns") from this deriving analysis and the need to graph the behavior of a mathematical formula with respect to the "unknowns" when they're assigned values, then the idea of ordered pairs as derived from set theory, then the idea from computation of a "function box" and tabular lookup (e.g. Turing machines; I have not seen any earlier formal expression of a "state table" anywhere). With the Logicists we see the ernest attempt to axiomatize, formalize and locate the philosophical "essence" of mathematics, starting in ernest with Dedekind's The Nature and Meaning of Numbers, then Peano and Frege, culminating in Russell; here we see the formalization of the idea of a relation, and then its restricted form --the functional relation -- that dodges consistency violations [cf Hartley Rogers 1967]. These ideas were taken further by the set theorists (not clear where the bifurcation began and why) in an attempt to resolve problems with PM, in particular the axiom of reducibility. Since Bourbaki 1939 we've see almost every mathematician on the face of the earth creating their own symbolisms and formalisms and definitions.

The article's looking pretty thin now. Especially the references. BillWvbailey (talk) 15:09, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Bourbaki reference[edit]

Why was the Bourbaki reference changed? At first sight it occurs to me that the reference was correct (at least almost): [1], [2] Isheden (talk) 15:35, 19 August 2012 (UTC)


It looks like this article could use some attention. I reorganized some material and added a paragraph on Dedekind. (The article strikes me as a bit unbalanced toward logic over mathematics.) Reader634 (talk) 09:51, 3 January 2014 (UTC)


I've added a short draft of a lede and additional material and references for functions in analysis.Reader634 (talk) 04:14, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for all the work and the lead is the cherry on the top. It looks very good. Dmcq (talk) 09:32, 6 January 2014 (UTC)


Please check the edits here [3]. I find the earlier attribution to Leibniz troubling. The source doesn't mention a 1673 letter and it isn't clear whether Leibniz's use of the term "function" has anything to do with what we call a function. Better sources would be appreciated. - SindHind (talk) 10:32, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Extremely difficult to extract any useful information from this article[edit]

The article is written so that each "development" is described in terms of the words that were used at that time.

If you came to this article — as I did — to find out who first invented the modern definition of function, and when this happened: good luck. This will not be easy. I found it impossible.

Yes, the Bourbaki definition of function is certainly logically equivalent to (or just is) the modern one.

But did anyone else come up with a logically equivalent definition before that? The article makes no effort to clarify that. Because of this, the article is for me a complete failure.Daqu (talk) 11:49, 7 June 2016 (UTC)