Glen Van Brummelen is Shortlisted for 2013 BSHM Nuemann Book Prize

Glen Van Brummelen - Heavenly Mathematics: The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonometry
Shortlisted for the 2013 BSHM Neumann Book Prize, British Society for the History of Mathematics

The British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) has announced the winner of the 2013 Neumann Prize. This prize, named after Oxford mathematician and past BSHM President Dr. Peter Neumann, OBE, is awarded every two years for the best mathematics book containing historical material and aimed at a non-specialist readership.

To read more about the BSHM and this award, click here.

Heavenly MathematicsSpherical trigonometry was at the heart of astronomy and ocean-going navigation for two millennia. The discipline was a mainstay of mathematics education for centuries, and it was a standard subject in high schools until the 1950s. Today, however, it is rarely taught. Heavenly Mathematics traces the rich history of this forgotten art, revealing how the cultures of classical Greece, medieval Islam, and the modern West used spherical trigonometry to chart the heavens and the Earth. Glen Van Brummelen explores this exquisite branch of mathematics and its role in ancient astronomy, geography, and cartography; Islamic religious rituals; celestial navigation; polyhedra; stereographic projection; and more. He conveys the sheer beauty of spherical trigonometry, providing readers with a new appreciation for its elegant proofs and often surprising conclusions.

Heavenly Mathematics is illustrated throughout with stunning historical images and informative drawings and diagrams that have been used to teach the subject in the past. This unique compendium also features easy-to-use appendixes as well as exercises at the end of each chapter that originally appeared in textbooks from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

Glen Van Brummelen is coordinator of mathematics and the physical sciences at Quest University Canada and president of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics. His books include The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth: The Early History of Trigonometry (Princeton) and Mathematics and the Historian’s Craft.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY – Trigonometric Delights

BOOK FACT excerpted from Trigonometric Delights by Eli Maor:

It is no coincidence that trigonometry up until the sixteenth century was developed mainly by astronomers. Aristarchus and Hipparchus, who founded trigonometry as a distinct branch of mathematics, were astronomers, as was Ptolemy, the author of the Almagest. During the Middle Ages, Arab and Hindu astronomers, notably Abul-Wefa, al-Battani, Aryabhata, and Ulugh Beg of Samarkand (1393-1449), absorbed the Greek mathematical heritage and greatly expanded it, especially in spherical trigonometry. And when this combined heritage was passed on to Europe, it was again an astronomer who was at the forefront: Johann Muller, known as Regiomontanus.

Regiomontanus was the first publisher of mathematical and astronomical books for commercial use. In 1474 he printed his Ephemerides, tables listing the position of the sun, moon, and planets for each day from 1475 to 1506. This work brought him great acclaim; Christopher Columbus had a copy of it on his fourth voyage to the New World and used it to predict the famous lunar eclipse of February 29, 1504. Regiomontanus’s most influential work was his De triangulis omnimodis (On triangles of every kind), a work in five parts (“books”) modeled after Euclid’s Elements. As he states in his introduction, Regiomontanus’s main goal in On Triangles was to provide a mathematical introduction to astronomy. Regiomontanus completed writing On Triangles in 1464, but it was not published until 1533, more than half a century after his death.

We are pleased to announce a new paperback edition is now available:
Trigonometric Delights
by Eli Maor

Trigonometry has always been an underappreciated branch of mathematics. It has a reputation as a dry and difficult subject, a glorified form of geometry complicated by tedious computation. In this book, Eli Maor draws on his remarkable talents as a guide to the world of numbers to dispel that view. Rejecting the usual arid descriptions of sine, cosine, and their trigonometric relatives, he brings the subject to life in a compelling blend of history, biography, and mathematics. He presents both a survey of the main elements of trigonometry and a unique account of its vital contribution to science and social development. Woven together in a tapestry of entertaining stories, scientific curiosities, and educational insights, the book more than lives up to the title Trigonometric Delights.

Maor also sketches the lives of some of the intriguing figures who have shaped four thousand years of trigonometric history. We meet, for instance, the Renaissance scholar Regiomontanus, who is rumored to have been poisoned for insulting a colleague, and Maria Agnesi, an eighteenth-century Italian genius who gave up mathematics to work with the poor–but not before she investigated a special curve that, due to mistranslation, bears the unfortunate name “the witch of Agnesi.” The book is richly illustrated, including rare prints from the author’s own collection. Trigonometric Delights will change forever our view of a once dreaded subject.

Eli Maor teaches the history of mathematics at Loyola University in Chicago. He is the author of To Infinity and Beyond, e: The Story of a Number, Venus in Transit, and The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-Year History.

New Mathematics Catalog!

Be among the first to check out our new mathematics catalog!

Of particular interest are Alexander J. Hahn’s eye-opening Mathematical Excursions to the World’s Great Buildings, Glen Van Brummelen’s rich Heavenly Mathematics: The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonometry, and Dana Mackenzie’s lucid The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations. Also be sure to check out our textbooks, including Anne Greenbaum and Timothy P. Chartier’s Numerical Methods: Design, Analysis, and Computer Implementation of Algorithms, a clear and concise exploration of standard numerical analysis topics, as well as nontraditional ones, including mathematical modeling, Monte Carlo methods, Markov chains, and fractals.

The selection of critical, cutting-edge titles abounds, so if you’re interested in learning more about our other mathematics books, browse our catalog. You may also sign up to stay current on our publishing endeavors with ease here: Your email address will remain confidential!

We’ll also see you at the Joint Mathematics Meeting January 9-12 in San Diego, CA at booth 311! The following book signings will be held at our booth:

Wednesday, January 9
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., Glen Van Brummelen, Heavenly Mathematics: The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonometry

Thursday, January 10
1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Alexander J. Hahn, Mathematical Excursions to the World’s Great Buildings
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Michael Starbird, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

Friday, January 11
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham, Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Dana Mackenzie, The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Siobhan Roberts, Wind Wizard: Alan G. Davenport and the Art of Wind Engineering

Also, stop booth 311 to chat about March Mathness! We’re aiming to double last year’s six participating schools with a goal of twelve in 2013, providing entertainment for math and basketball aficionados alike! Find out more here in the meantime: