Embedding: Another Case of Stumbling Progress in the History of Algebra

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On an earlier occasion I have argued that the development toward full algebraic symbolism in Europe was a case of “stumbling progress,” never really intentional before Viète. Here I shall concentrate on a particular aspect of algebraic symbolism, the one that allowed Cartesian algebraic symbolism to become the starting point not only for theoretical algebra, but for the whole transformation of mathematics from his time onward: the possibility of embedding, that is, of making a symbol or an element of a calculation stand not only for a single number, determined or undetermined, but for a whole expression (which then appears as an algebraic parenthesis)
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysis : Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)1-38
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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