• book

From the Publisher

"As it is, the book is indispensable; it has, indeed, no serious English rival." — Times Literary Supplement.
"Sir Thomas Heath, foremost English historian of the ancient exact sciences in the twentieth century." — Professor W. H. Stahl
"Indeed, seeing that so much of Greek is mathematics, it is arguable that, if one would understand the Greek genius fully, it would be a good plan to begin with their geometry."
The perspective that enabled Sir Thomas Heath to understand the Greek genius — deep intimacy with languages, literatures, philosophy, and all the sciences — brought him perhaps closer to his beloved subjects and to their own ideal of educated men, than is common or even possible today. Heath read the original texts with a critical, scrupulous eye, and brought to this definitive two-volume history the insights of a mathematician communicated with the clarity of classically taught English.
"Of all the manifestations of the Greek genius none is more impressive and even awe-inspiring than that which is revealed by the history of Greek mathematics." Heath records that history with the scholarly comprehension and comprehensiveness that marks this work as obviously classic now as when it first appeared in 1921. The linkage and unity of mathematics and philosophy suggest the outline for the entire history. Heath covers in sequence Greek numerical notation, Pythagorean arithmetic, Thales and Pythagorean geometry, Zeno, Plato, Euclid, Aristarchus, Archimedes, Apollonius, Hipparchus and trigonometry, Ptolemy, Heron, Pappus, Diophantus of Alexandria and the algebra. Interspersed are sections devoted to the history and analysis of famous problems: squaring the circle, angle trisection, duplication of the cube, and an appendix on Archimedes' proof of the subtangent property of a spiral. The coverage is everywhere thorough and judicious; but Heath is not content with plain exposition:
It is a defect in the existing histories that, while they state generally the contents of, and the main propositions proved in, the great treatises of Archimedes and Apollonius, they make little attempt to describe the procedure by which the results are obtained. I have therefore taken pains, in the most significant cases, to show the course of the argument in sufficient detail to enable a competent mathematician to grasp the method used and to apply it, if he will, to other similar investigations. 
Mathematicians, then, will rejoice to find Heath back in print and accessible after many years. Historians of Greek culture and science can renew acquaintance with a standard reference; readers in general will find, particularly in the energetic discourses on Euclid and Archimedes, exactly what Heath means by impressive and awe-inspiring.  

Published: Dover Publications on
ISBN: 9780486162690
List price: $22.95
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for A History of Greek Mathematics, Volume I by Sir Thomas Heath
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Related Articles

Quanta Abstractions
2 min read

19 Women Leading Math and Physics

In an interview with Quanta Magazine last fall, the eminent theoretical physicist Helen Quinn recalled her uncertainty, as a Stanford University undergraduate in the 1960s, about whether to pursue a career in physics or become a high school teacher. “There were no women in the faculty at Stanford at that time in the physics department,” Quinn said. “I didn’t see myself there.” Her adviser warned her that “graduate schools are usually reluctant to accept women because they get married and they don’t finish.” (He kindly added that “I don’t think we need to worry about that with you.”) In the 197
1 min read

Graphing Human Uniqueness

Throughout this issue, we’ve explored the question of whether humans are unique, and if so, in what ways. In one interactive piece, “The Vocabulary of Our Uniqueness,” we asked readers which words best described what makes us special. And here are the results. Readers cast 1,234 votes for 56 different terms, which we have grouped together thematically (and subjectively). This is obviously not a rigorously precise survey, but it’s enough to give a general snapshot of how people think of the question. The number one choice turned out to be “science,” which also included the terms “math” and “ast
10 min read

How to Build a Search Engine for Mathematics: The Surprising Power of Neil Sloane’s Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences.: The surprising power of Neil Sloane’s Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences.

On the average summer Saturday, the mathematician Neil Sloane woke up to a crisis. “There are always crises,” he said— albeit crises of the teapot tempest variety. One Saturday over breakfast, he faced an inbox message titled “edits from outer space.” Without authorization, a contributor in France had deleted an entry in Sloane’s Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, which, like Wikipedia, is powered by volunteer contributors and editors. But everyday, tending his encyclopedia like a garden, weeding and pruning and planting, Sloane also delights in the more pleasant surprises. On that same