Category Archives: history

the shadow of the past

Pseudofields, quasifields, near-domains

Here is a piece of evidence which those who think that mathematics is invented rather than discovered will like. This concerns definitions. I wrote last year about the definitions of a group, a matroid, the real numbers, and primitivity. In … Continue reading

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Tomar

The Portuguese city of Tomar was founded, on the site of a Roman town, by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century. (Many businesses in the town still use the Templar name or their logo, which is also found in … Continue reading

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10th birthday of MSG

Another event last week was the 10th anniversary talk in the Mathematics Study Group at South Bank University. This group was set up by Carrie Rutherford, whose photo is below (as well as a mathematician at South Bank, she is … Continue reading

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Queen Mary MathSoc

In my long association with Queen Mary, one constant has been the variability of the Queen Mary Mathematics Society. As with many student societies, it takes an enthusiastic student or two to breathe life into it, and when these people … Continue reading

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The Infinite Quest

In late May, I was in Hay-on-Wye at the How the Light Gets In festival. I talked about humanity’s engagement with infinity over the last few millennia, from Malunkyaputta’s questions to the Buddha and Aristotle’s disavowal of a completed infinity … Continue reading

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Scots wha hae

… wi’ Wallace bled Yesterday, the Scots voted to retain their place in the United Kingdom. Scottish history has been a bloody affair. The battle of Bannockburn took place 700 years ago, and the referendum on Scottish independence was deliberately … Continue reading

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Poe on algebraists

Michael Kinyon reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s comments on algebraists in his story “The Purloined Letter”. Here they are in full. “But is this really a poet?” I asked. “There are two brothers, I know; and both have attained … Continue reading

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