The Early History of Linear Algebra to 1700: Chinese and Japanese Sources


ACLS Fellowship Program


While linear algebra is one of the core courses in most university undergraduate mathematics curricula, no history has been written on its early development. These developments took place primarily in China but also in Japan. I propose to write a book of 400 to 500 pages on the history of the development of linear algebra, covering the earliest extant Chinese mathematical treatises from about 200 CE up to 1700 CE. I have received training in mathematics, Chinese, history, and history of science. I have already collected most of the primary sources I need, learned the computer tools, and completed the research for two articles. This project is significant for the history of science and mathematics, and also as an important example of the non-Western sources of modern science.