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The Mathematical Cultures of Medieval Europe

Victor J. Katz (University of the District of Columbia)


Mathematics in medieval Europe was created and shared not only by Catholic scholars who wrote in Latin, but also by scholars from two other European cultures, the Hebrew culture found mostly in Spain, southern France, and parts of Italy, and the Islamic culture that predominated in Spain through the thirteenth century and existed there through the end of the fifteenth century. Certainly, the Latin Catholic culture was dominant in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and its mathematicians – including Leonardo of Pisa, Thomas Bradwardine, and Nicole Oresme – are best known today. But in many areas of mathematics, Hebrew and Arabic speaking mathematicians outshone their Latin counterparts. In this article, we will consider several mathematicians from each of these three mathematical cultures and consider how the culture in which each lived influenced the mathematics they studied.

Victor J. Katz (University of the District of Columbia), "The Mathematical Cultures of Medieval Europe," Convergence (December 2017)