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Number Crunching Before Computers

by

Kim Plofker
Union College

February 25, 2013
4:30 pm
Bailey Hall 201

Refreshments will be served in Bailey Hall 204 at 4:15 pm


Abstract:

How do you "plug and chug" a math problem if you don't have a calculator or computer available to plug the numbers into? The development of mechanical and electronic calculating devices has made it easy to forget or ignore how much work used to be required for even relatively simple mathematical computations. Pre-modern mathematicians put considerable time and ingenuity into constructing numerical tables of function values to use in such computations. This talk explores some of the methods and tricks used by some of these mathematicians, especially in late medieval and early modern India, to make calculation-intensive tasks easier.


For additional information, send e-mail to math@union.edu or call (518) 388-6246.
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