The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth
The Early History of Trigonometry
Glen Van Brummelen


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.

Glen Van Brummelen is professor of mathematics at Quest University Canada. He is the coeditor of Mathematics and the Historian's Craft and the coauthor of Calculus Explorations Powered by Technology: Tales of History and Imagination.