Talk:Timeline of mathematics

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WikiProject Mathematics (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject Mathematics
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 Field: General (historical)

Old comments[edit]

Could at some point in time a compact timeline be produced? As much as I would like every single little discovery noted down I think for the average user something smaller might be handy? Perhaps something such as the time line of the top 100 discoveries?? Although to claim the "top 100" would be not be npov. Perhaps there is a site with a list of the "top 100" (or whatever, 100 just seems like a suitably small number) discoveries that we could link to? Mathmo 16:44, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Does anyone know when the concept of negative numbers first appeared? It should be put in the timeline somewhere. Radiant! 22:10, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The first known use and legitimization of negative numbers in mathematics is found in Brahmagupta's BrahmaSphuta-Sidd'hanta [628], an Indian mathematical text. It appears as if negative numbers evolved from a need to represent negative asset or debts. --Pranathi 02:32, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

RE: Copyright Permissions on this and other timelines developed by Niel Brandt, the following email exchange took place:


I saw your timeline pages, and thought they would be really valuable for the wikipedia project ( Do you have any problem with someone posting them there (and setting up links)? Wikipedia uses GNU Free Document License, so your work may be redistributed by anyone in any format.


David Levinson"

To which was responded


this is fine with me. good luck!

cheers, niel"

Source of timelines is various (they have been reproduced across the web). One is

-- user:DavidLevinson

Hey Axel what should be done furthermore to correct the following timeline remark, you've left off:

  • 1806 - Jean-Robert Argand associates vectors with complex numbers and sties complex number operations in geometrical terms,

When I shall know what is wrong with it, I shall try to fix it. Best regards. --XJamRastafire

Wessel did the same thing 9 years earlier, so I don't see the point of repeating it. AxelBoldt 03:58 Feb 6, 2003 (UTC)

But I guess it is a good and courteous custom to mention J-R Argand's work anyway. This story regarding things in complex at their beginnings, as it seems, is not just nebulous, but also interesting and instructive. Very similar is the story of the divergence theorem and probably many, many others (e.g. the Poiseuille's law from hydrodynamics...) --XJamRastafire
I'm not a big fan of the repeated mentionings of the divergence theorem either. There are more than enough important events for the timeline; I don't think it's significant enough if someone rediscovers an already known theorem. This could be mentioned in the history section of the theorem's article, but for the timeline I think it's overkill. AxelBoldt 03:19 Feb 9, 2003 (UTC)

Where does this information come from?

  • 4500 BC - Carnac, Brittany, first use of the triple 3-4-5
  • 2450 BC - Egypt, first systematic method for the approximative calculation of the circle on the basis of the Sacred Triangle 3-4-5
  • 1650 BC - Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, copy of a lost scroll from around 1850 BC, a great and still widely misunderstood synopsis of early geometry and mathematics (

AxelBoldt 01:00 Feb 16, 2003 (UTC)

I too would like to know where the "2450 BC Egypt" entry, comes from. Also to what does "calculation of the circle" refer, area?, circumference? This should be made specific, but I can't find any references to it. Paul August 04:52, Jul 21, 2004 (UTC)

I removed this:

because transcendental number claims it was Liouville in 1844.

I have seen some references suggesting that Euler proved that e was irrational in 1744. An interesting question is when transcendentals were first considered or defined. Chas zzz brown 08:20 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

Answering my own question (bad form I know); according to [1],
According to Paulo Ribenboim in My Numbers, My Friends, "LEIBNIZ seems to be the first mathematician who employed the expression 'transcendental number' (1704)."
Euler used transcendental in his 1733 article in Nova Acta Eruditorum titled "Constructio aequationum quarundam differentialium quae indeterminatarum separationem non admittunt":
Now there are kinds of constructions, which can be called transcendental, which arise in solving differential equations and cannot be transformed into algebraic equations.
Cheers Chas zzz brown 03:48 Feb 21, 2003 (UTC)

This page was hit in June by the same propagandist who mangled History of Physics. No real damage, but now all Arabs are marked "- Arab - "; shall we NPOV it by identifying the nationality of every other item?

This is silly. I think it would be best to just remove the nationalities. People who are competitive about what nationality long-dead mathematicians were shouldn't be the people making non-NPOV editorial decisions here. That information is already usually in the mathematicians' own pages. Otherwise, I'm afraid each entry will eventually be listed like: "Name/Country/Religion/Ancestry/Ethnic group/listened to Country Music, not Rap!" -- Daniel Quinlan Fri Jul 11 23:53:04 PDT 2003
Glad to hear it, because I think it's dernfoolishness myself. I'll be glad to fix it if no one else does, though I've run out of time tonight and tomorrow. Just sign me
Cautious newbie
alias Dandrake 07:05 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Actually, one piece of damage: Omar Khayyam identified as an Arab. How to get both Khameini and Khatami on your case: say all Muslims from the Middle East are Arabs. This item has been corrected.
Dandrake 01:56 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)


It looks like second- or third-hand information reproduced by somebody who doesn't understand it. Why not just delete the meaningless part and wait for it to be replaced by someone who cares about and understands it? Dandrake 22:39, Jan 9, 2004 (UTC)

Fermi 1955[edit]

An amazing feat, if true:

  • 1955 - Enrico Fermi, John Pasta, and Stanislaw Ulam numerically study a nonlinear spring model of heat conduction and discover solitary wave type behavior,

Fermi died in 1954. Perhaps someone with mroe knowledge of the detail can change this (perhaps the PUBLISHED in this year). A little pedantic, maybe, but. . . John (Jwy) 23:24, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

non-sense list.[edit]

There is no name of grothendieck and hence the list is not serious. moreover, as far as i know there is no real arab mathematician at all, all notable ones are persian but writing in arabic. the list has to be removed completely.

Indeed it is not serious not to mention the greatest mathematician alive (could be disputed). However see Timeline of category theory and related mathematics and choose your pick of Grothendieck. In my oppinion almost everything in modern mathematics is missing, not only category theory, but also for instance analysis. But the blame can not be put wholely on the creator of the timeline but on all who could include these things but don't. In fact mathematics is developing exponentially so the majority of entries should be in the past 100 years, sadly they are not. Yes, i have some entries to include, but i don't have the time. --user:Fotino

Beware of prehistory[edit]

I am a casual visitor. Some of the dates given in the timeline are impressive, but they looks like pushed centuries back in time. This is especially the case of a part of Indian mathematics. Many dates are contradicted by other Wikipedia articles and common sense.

I cancel the following "1500s - Jesuit missionaries in India translate many astronomical and mathematical Indian texts and transmit them to Europe" Do not restore it unless you can give a single one title of such translated text.

I move the text about Babylonian abacus from 2400 BC to 300 BC (see abacus, Wikipedia).

I do not change the following.

"ca. 2800 BC - Indus Valley Civilization (...) the smallest unit of measurement used is 1.704 millimetres and (...)." One may trace this back to an artefact unearthed in Lothal, but Lothal did not exist in 2800 BC yet. By the way, I am curious, how did they define the unit up to one micrometer. With a microscope?

"2600 BCE - Indus Valley Civilization - objects, streets, pavements, houses, and multi-storied buildings are constructed at perfect right angles, with each brick having the same dimensions". Well, true. But regular bricks were known e.q. in Catal Hoyuk in Anatolia 3300 years earlier, streets, pavements, houses were rectangular also 3000 or 4000 years earlier elsewhere (Jarmo, Tell Buqras etc.), multistoried buildings too. Indus Valley Civilization was not the first to discover right angle.

2800 BC - The Lo Shu Square (...) was discovered in China." One may trace this to the statement in Wikipedia that it is found in Chinese literature text from 2800 BC, but there were no Chinese literature at that time (and even 2000 years later).

"ca. 1800 BC - Vedic India - Yajnavalkya writes the Shatapatha Brahmana, in which he describes (...)." Tell me, what writing system was in use in India 1800 BC? Maybe it was written 1500 years later?

"600 BC - Apastamba, author of the Apastamba Sulba Sutra (...)". Wikipedia says he lived some centuries later.

And so on, and so on.

Sincerely, 08:38, 7 December 2006 (UTC), Witold, Poland

Where is Alan Turing? And Alonso Church?[edit]

Computability theory, Turing and Church? Got to be worth mentioning. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:55, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Major rewriting needed?- What should be the scope of the article[edit]

I just added GRR, und Eilenberg-MacLane, Eilenberg-Steenrod-axioms As someone before pointed out regardless on which side of the co-homology-gap one is, not mentioning Grothendieck and Catheories is pathetic but the list still remains woefully incomplete... on the other Hand a lot of stuff is contained that might not have a place in a timeline of general mathematics. Results in my opinion should be: - Major Conjectures which drive programs (Hilbert-Program, Weil Conjetures, Milnor Conjecture, Moonshine (or whoever it is called the one about vertex(?)-chiral-algebras which Borcherds proofed, the Langelands proofs, Bloch-Kato, Beilinson-conjectures, the Swinerton-Dyer Conjecture (sry spelling?!) - Really Major Theorems: GRR (Grothedieck-Riemann-Roch), The Atiyah-Singer-Index Theorem, Fast Fourier Transform and the like - Foundations of new Programs: Grothendieck-Remake/GAGA, NCG, Mori-Program, Game-Theory, Probability, Quillen K-theory - Second Proofs only it they bring something new about: e.g. Gowers new proof of Szemerédi's theorem

Maybe a good strategy for deciding what to mention whould also be to take only theorems which have an entry in the Princeton Companion on Mathematics (unfortunatly I don't have a copy ready)

I also very much think that the date for Noncommutativ geometry is just just plain wrong: It might be sensible to mark the starting of NCG (or at least the Connes style variant) with the following article Alain Connes, Noncommutative differential geometry, Inst. Hautes Études Sci. Publ. Math. (1985), no. 62, 257–360. I will try to think about a better date the next days The date in the article seams to refer to the Lott-Connes paper: "The Metric Aspect of Noncommutative Geometry", in New Symmetry Principles in Quantum Field Theory (Carg�ese, 1991), NATO Adv. Sci. Inst. Ser. B Phys. 295, Plenum, NY, p. 53-93 (1992) 17. \Superconnections and Higher Index Theory", Geom. Funct. Anal While this might be a fine paper calling this "developing" noncommutativ geometry is just preposterous. If no one objects I will remove this entry and give a more appropriate date for the introduction of NCG (the NCDG-paper is still not optimal for a variety of reasons but the best I could come up by now) There are also a Variety of other things that ought to be mentioned in a serious timeline, I will make suggestions in the next days

A good general guideline might be that at least Fields medal winning results should be mentioned somehow because they had a major influence on mathematics, on top of head at elast the following ought to be inculded- : Roth's theorem on arithmetic progressions (after all there is Tao-Green is mentioned) Resolution of Singularities - Stefan Banach's work on Banachspaces - The Weil-Conjectures - The three Proofs of the Weil-Conjectures (or at least Deligne's) - Poincares Analysis Situs (after all this was the birth of modern topology) - Grothendieck's remake of the foundations of AG in the 60's - Serre's GAGA - Algebraic- K-Theory - Selberg Trace Formula - Milnors Exotic Sphere (because it disproves the Hauptvermutung) - Simon Kiriwan Donaldsons- Donaldson Conjectures - The lower dimensional Topology Thurston did I also think some mathematical Physics ought to be included: - The Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser Theorem - Yang-Miles-Theory and the things Sir Atiyah did, relating to this - Chiral Algebras - TQFT - Mirror-Symmetry ... (and more but I can't think of anything right now)

In general conjetures which drive large developments in a given field should be included: i.e. Die Hauptvermutung, Milnor-Conjecture, Bloch-Kato

Given the shameful state of the list as it is I think some entries ought to be removed, because they are not important enough to be included in a general timeline of mathematics. A lot of stuff of arguably lesser importance should be removed: -1912 – Josip Plemelj publishes simplified proof for the Fermat's Last Theorem for exponent n = 5, (this should be removed- not important enough) -1913 – Srinivasa Aaiyangar Ramanujan sends a long list of complex theorems without proofs to G. H. Hardy, -1914 – Srinivasa Aaiyangar Ramanujan publishes Modular Equations and Approximations to π, -1910s – Srinivasa Aaiyangar Ramanujan develops over 3000 theorems, including properties of highly composite numbers, the partition function and its asymptotics, and mock theta functions. He also makes major breakthroughs and discoveries in the areas of gamma functions, modular forms, divergent series, hypergeometric series and prime number theory should be unified into one entry -1933 – Karol Borsuk and Stanislaw Ulam present the Borsuk-Ulam antipodal-point theorem, should in my opinion be removed ( I din't know the result,and it certainly does not look like an earth shatering result -1943 – Kenneth Levenberg proposes a method for nonlinear least squares fitting, I don't know the result is it significant enough to show up on a timeline of general mathematics? (I don't know of either autor or result please enlighten me) -1961 – Daniel Shanks and John Wrench compute π to 100,000 decimal places using an inverse-tangent identity and an IBM-7090 computer, I think this should be removed, this was neighter the first nor the best computation of π on a computer. JvN's ENIAC compuation is already mentioned 1987 – Yasumasa Kanada, David Bailey, Jonathan Borwein, and Peter Borwein use iterative modular equation approximations to elliptic integrals and a NEC SX-2 supercomputer to compute π to 134 million decimal places, 1991 – Alain Connes and John W. Lott develop non-commutative geometry, See above

I am not sure about the following -1956 – Noam Chomsky describes an hierarchy of formal languages, (this was a recent edit if you check the history, in how far is it relevant to mathematics?) -1965 – Iranian mathematician Lotfi Asker Zadeh founded fuzzy set theory as an extension of the classical notion of set and he founded the field of Fuzzy Mathematics, -1973 – Lotfi Zadeh founded the field of fuzzy logic, -1919 – Viggo Brun defines Brun's constant B2 for twin primes, I am not sure how relevant this is?!

I think in the 1998 – Thomas Callister Hales (almost certainly) proves the Kepler conjecture, entry "(almost certainly)" should be removed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:57, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

to add[edit]

Dionysodorus Diophantus Domninus Eratosthenes Euclid Eudemus of Rhodes Eudoxus Eutocius Geminus Heraclides of Pontus Heron Hipparchus Hippias Hippocrates Hypatia Hypsicles Leucippus Marinus of Neapolis Menaechmus Menelaus Nicomachus Nicomedes Oenopides of Chios Pappus Perseus Philon of Byzantium Plato Porphyry Posidonius Proclus Ptolemy Pythagoras Serenus Simplicius Sporus Thales Theaetetus Theodorus Theodosius of Bithynia Theon of Alexandria Theon of Smyrna Thymaridas Xenocrates Zeno of Elea Zeno of Sidon Zenodorus More to come J8079s (talk) 02:43, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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