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Ambiguities of fundamental concepts in mathematical analysis during the mid 19th century
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
2012 (English)In: Foundations of Science, ISSN 1233-1821, E-ISSN 1572-8471, Vol. 17, no 4, 301-320 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper we consider the major development of mathematical analysis during the mid-nineteenth century. On the basis of Jahnke's (Hist Math 20(3):265-284, 1993) distinction between considering mathematics as an empirical science based on time and space and considering mathematics as a purely conceptual science we discuss the Swedish nineteenth century mathematician E.G. Bjorling's general view of real- and complexvalued functions. We argue that Bjorling had a tendency to sometimes consider mathematical objects in a naturalistic way. One example is how Bjorling interprets Cauchy's definition of the logarithm function with respect to complex variables, which is investigated in the paper. Furthermore, in view of an article written by Bjorling (Kongl Vetens Akad Forh Stockholm 166-228, 1852) we consider Cauchy's theorem on power series expansions of complex valued functions. We investigate Bjorling's, Cauchy's and the Belgian mathematician Lamarle's different conditions for expanding a complex function of a complex variable in a power series. We argue that one reason why Cauchy's theorem was controversial could be the ambiguities of fundamental concepts in analysis that existed during the mid-nineteenth century. This problem is demonstrated with examples from Bjorling, Cauchy and Lamarle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer , 2012. Vol. 17, no 4, 301-320 p.
National Category
Philosophy Educational Sciences
Research subject
Mathematics with specialization in Mathematics Education and the History of Mathematics
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-161234DOI: 10.1007/s10699-011-9274-3ISI: 000310539300001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-161234DiVA: diva2:455410
Available from: 2011-11-09 Created: 2011-11-09 Last updated: 2012-12-03Bibliographically approved

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