George G Joseph

The crest of the peacock

After the renaissance, the centre of mathematical study moved to Europe, and sometimes the contributions to mathematics from other cultures are overlooked. In The Crest of the Peacock George Gheverghese Joseph gives a history of such mathematics, starting from prehistoric markings on bones, and going on to the mathematics of Egypt and Babylonia, followed by a look at that of China, India and the Arab world. It's a lot of material to cover and sometimes it's hard going, but there are plenty of examples and diagrams which make it easier to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to find out more about the substantial contribution to mathematics from non-European cultures.

Joseph obviously feels that non-European mathematics has been poorly treated in mathematical history. However, if his aim is to persuade the reader of this then I don't think that he is doing it in the right way - as it is his comments on this seem to intrude in the rest of the text. He concludes 'there needs to be more research in this area', but I couldn't help feeling that the 'more research' was what should be in this book, especially in the 2nd edition (2000). Also the extra material for this edition was just put in a 'reflections' chapter at the end, whereas I felt that a rewriting of the individual chapters was really what was needed. info
Paperback 400 pages  
ISBN: 0140125299
Salesrank: 4163806
Weight:0.6 lbs
Published: 1992 Penguin Books
Marketplace:New from $44.42:Used from $1.96
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Paperback 367 pages  
ISBN: 0140277781
Salesrank: 7153010
Weight:0.79 lbs
Published: 1992 Penguin Books Ltd
Marketplace::Used from £16.31
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Paperback 400 pages  
ISBN: 0140125299
Salesrank: 1757393
Weight:0.6 lbs
Published: 1990 Penguin UK
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 113.14:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
Most westerners are unaware of the heritage of non-Western mathematics. This book suggests that humans everywhere have been capable of advanced and innovative mathematical thinking. The Greeks were influenced by the Egyptians and Babylonians; the Arabs made a major creative contribution; and the great civilizations of India and China have a range of successes to their credit. Beginning with the Ishango Bone of central Africa and the Inca quipu of South America, the book continues to the dawn of modern mathematics, questioning familiar assumptions and enlarging the meaning of mathematics.