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Infinitesimal Battle Not Over Yet

John Allen Paulos writes in The New York Times that Amir Alexander's book Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World "shows that mathematics can...become entangled in ugliness hot and messy."

Alexander's book describes how the 17th-century dispute about the proper understanding of continua both stoked and was fed by the religious tensions of the day.

The battle Alexander recounts, Paulos says, is not over:

A trace of the dynamic that animated fierce struggles between Jesuit mathematicians and the infinitesimalists, as well as between Hobbes and Wallis, can be found today.

Read the review.

Start Date: 
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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