History of Mathematical Symbols

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  • #1
observer1
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Hello

I VAGUELY recall reading somewhere (in the history of math), that there were intense and emotional (almost physical) arguments over who would use (claim?) what letter for what purpose in calculus: Δ δ d D ∂

Is this true? Can someone provide a reference? (I could be mistaken.)

(My intent is not to disparage masculinity, but to respond to those who do. My feeling is that such arguments, while ostensibly trivial, reveal a passion. And it is this passion that is not being taught today. And we are sorely missing a middle ground between what is an absurd reaction and what is a passion. However, my memory of this issue could be completely erroneous.)
 

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  • #3
HallsofIvy
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I don't know how "heated" it was but there was a rivalry between Newton and Leibniz over who had first come up with the Calculus and included the notation for the derivative: whether df/dx (Leibniz) or f' (Newton). Since one was French and the other English, it may have been very heated!
 
  • #4
S.G. Janssens
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Since one was French and the other English, it may have been very heated!
Leibniz did write in French (among other languagues) but he was still German. Probably this did not make the rivalry any less heated, though.
 
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  • #5
FactChecker
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Back then, physics and math were inseparable and physicists were the "rock stars" of the day. Lectures were sold out even though people had to pay admission. The competition between mathematicians were followed by the general public like sports events.
 
  • #6
UncertaintyAjay
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Back then, physics and math were inseparable and physicists were the "rock stars" of the day. Lectures were sold out even though people had to pay admission. The competition between mathematicians were followed by the general public like sports events

One wonders where the world went wrong.
 
  • #7
fresh_42
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I have a copy of an old journal in which Kronecker reviewed someone's article. 'PC' was definitely not an issue in former times.
 
  • #8
Ssnow
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Newton used the dot notation ## \dot{f}## for the derivative of ##f##, see " Storia e filosofia dell'analisi infinitesimale " of Ludovico Geymonat (I don't know if there is an english version, may be ...)
 
  • #9
HallsofIvy
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One wonders where the world went wrong.
Who says it did? From "The Big Bang Theory":
Raj: Today, Physicists are like Rock Stars.
Howard: Only without the sex.
Raj: Yeah, literally none of it.
 

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