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Oxford Figures: Eight Centuries of the Mathematical Sciences

John Fauvel, Raymond Flood, and Robin Wilson, editors
Publisher: 
Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 
2013
Number of Pages: 
406
Format: 
Hardcover
Edition: 
2
Price: 
69.95
ISBN: 
9780199681976
Category: 
Anthology
[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on
03/23/2014
]

The first edition of Oxford Figures was published in 2000, and it is hardly to be expected that our view of eight centuries of mathematics at Oxford will have changed all that much in a mere thirteen years. And indeed, this is still very much the book that Eisso Atzema reviewed for us in 2002, the one significant addition being a chapter on “Recent Developments” by Peter M. Neumann. Perhaps the most significant of these developments is the new building pictured in the front and back endpapers. As Marcus du Sautoy says in his preface to the new edition “moving house is an exciting and significant moment in anyone’s life,” and that seems to be the main reason for a new edition.

In his review, Atzema pointed to the similarity between this book and another book edited by Fauvel, Flood, and Wilson:

… even up to the pun in its title, this book is very similar in style to Möbius and his Band, the other book edited by Fauvel, Flood and Wilson that was published by Oxford University Press. Both make for very good bed-side reading and any reader who will want to know more will readily find pointers to further study. Indeed, both books clearly bear the stamp of the late John Fauvel. Not only did he serve as an editor, but he also contributed several chapters. This book must have been one of the last books John was involved in and I think I can fairly summarize its merits by concluding that it is a true loss to the history community that we will never have another book from his hand again.

Fittingly, the new edition of Oxford Figures is dedicated to the memory of John Fauvel. But perhaps the more remarkable memorial to him has come in the form of many other similar books, including Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals (edited by John Fauvel, Raymond Flood, and Robin Wilson), Kelvin: Life, Labours and Legacy (edited by Raymond Flood, Mark McCartney, and Andrew Whitaker), and, most recently, Mathematics in Victorian Britain (edited by Raymond Flood, Adrian Rice, and Robin Wilson). Let’s hope for many more.


Fernando Q. Gouvêa is Carter Professor of Mathematics at Colby College in Waterville, ME and the editor of MAA Reviews.

Foreword to Second Edition, Marcus du Sautoy
Foreword to First Edition, I. M. James

Introduction: Eight centuries of mathematical traditions, John Fauvel

PART I: EARLY DAYS
1. Medieval Oxford, John North
2. Renaissance Oxford, John Fauvel and Robert Goulding
3. Mathematical instruments, Willem Hackmann

PART II: THE 17th CENTURY
4. The first professors, Allan Chapman
5. John Wallis, Raymond Flood
6. Edmond Halley, Allan Chapman

PART III: THE 18th CENTURY
7. Oxford's Newtonian school, Allan Chapman
8. Georgian Oxford, John Fauvel
9. Thomas Hornsby and the Radcliffe Observatory, Allan Chapman

PART IV: THE VICTORIAN ERA
10. The 19th century, Keith Hannabuss
11. Henry Smith, Keith Hannabuss
12. Charles Dodgson, Robin Wilson
13. James Joseph Sylvester, John Fauvel

PART V: THE MODERN ERA
14. The 20th century, Margaret E. Rayner
15. Some personal reminiscences, Sir Michael Atiyah

Epilogue: Recent developments, Peter M. Neumann

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED