The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth is the first major history in English of the origins and early development of trigonometry. Glen Van Brummelen identifies the earliest known trigonometric precursors in ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Greece, and he examines the revolutionary discoveries of Hipparchus, the Greek astronomer believed to have been the first to make systematic use of trigonometry in the second century BC while studying the motions of the stars. The book traces trigonometry's development into a full-fledged mathematical discipline in India and Islam; explores its applications to such areas as geography and seafaring navigation in the European Middle Ages and Renaissance; and shows how trigonometry retained its ancient roots at the same time that it became an important part of the foundation of modern mathematics.
The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth looks at the controversies as well, including disputes over whether Hipparchus was indeed the father of trigonometry, whether Indian trigonometry is original or derived from the Greeks, and the extent to which Western science is indebted to Islamic trigonometry and astronomy. The book also features extended excerpts of translations of original texts, and detailed yet accessible explanations of the mathematics in them.
No other book on trigonometry offers the historical breadth, analytical depth, and coverage of non-Western mathematics that readers will find in The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth.
"Fans of the history of mathematics will be richly rewarded by this exhaustively researched book, which focuses on the early development of trigonometry. . . . Finally, the generous and lucid explanations provided throughout the text make Van Brummelen's history a rewarding one for the mathematical tourist."--Mathematics Teacher
"[T]his new and comprehensive history of trigonometry is more than welcome--even more so because it is the first in English. . . . [T]his book will be appreciated by many with an interest--general or more specific--in the history of mathematics."--Steven Wepster, Centaurus
"[T]his book will have wide appeal, for students, researchers, and teachers of history and/or trigonometry. The excerpts selected are balanced and their significances well articulated. . . . It is a book written by an expert after many years of exposure to individual sources and in this way Van Brummelen uniquely advances the field. The book will no doubt become a necessary addition to the libraries of mathematicians and historians alike."--Clemency Montelle and Kathleen M. Clark, Aestimatio
"Van Brummelen's history does far more than simply fill a vacant spot in the historical literature of mathematics. He recounts the history of trigonometry in a way that is both captivating and yet more than satisfying to the crankiest and most demanding of scholars. . . . The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth should be a part of every university library's mathematics collection. It's also a book that most mathematicians with an interest in the history of the subject will want to own."--Rob Bradley, MAA Reviews
"I highly recommend the book to all those interested in the way in which the ancient people solve their practical problems and hope that the next volume of this interesting history of spherical and plane trigonometry will appear soon."--Cristina Blaga, Studia Mathematica
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Glen Van Brummelen: