Schedule of Talks for the 2012-2013 Academic Year
Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Speaker: Prof. Thomas L. Bartlow
Department of Mathematics
Villanova University
Email: thomas dot bartlow at villanova dot edu
Title: A Look at American Postulate Theory
Abstract: American Postulate Theory is a body of research in the foundations of mathematics by American mathematicians in the first few decades of the twentieth century. This paper will give an overview of this topic and explore its connections to foundational studies by Europeans in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Title: [Postposned to December due to severe weather]
Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Speaker: Prof. Lee Stemkoski
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: stemkoski at adelphi dot edu
Title: The work of Leonhard Euler related to Fermat's Last Theorem
Abstract: Leonhard Euler is credited with having solved Fermat's Last Theorem in the case where the exponent is 3. However, the proof as presented in Euler's Algebra of 1770 contains a step which, although correct, is not justified. Historians nonetheless credit Euler with the proof, often referencing an earlier paper (Supplementum quorundum..., published 1760) where calculations appear that could be used to provide an alternative proof of the unjustified step in Euler's Algebra. We present a translation of this earlier paper and discuss the results related to Fermat's Last Theorem, as well as the possibility that Euler had worked on an alternative proof of Fermat's Last Theorem (for exponent 3), based on references in his correspondence with Goldbach.
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Speaker: Prof. Paul Wolfson
Department of Mathematics
West Chester University
Email: PWolfson AT wcupa DOT edu
Title: Elliptical Orbits and the Conflict over the Calculus
Abstract: The dispute between Newtonians and Leibnizians is often portrayed as a dispute over priority for the invention of the calculus. It was that, but it was much more, since the participants differed over matters of substance concerning theology, natural philosophy, and mathematics. The first and second editions of Newton’s Principia were published during this protracted dispute. By examining a few of its propositions and the reactions to them of Jacob Hermann and Johann Bernoulli, we can infer some of their differences concerning mathematical methods and values.
Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Speaker: Prof. Robert E. Bradley
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: bradley AT adelphi DOT edu
Title: L'Hôpital, Bernoulli and the First Calculus Book
Abstract: The Marquis de l’Hôpital (1661-1704) was a French nobleman whose name is inextricably linked to the well-known rule for resolving indeterminate forms. Although credit for discovering l’Hôpital’s Rule rightfully belongs to Johann Bernoulli (1667-1748),the Marquis deserves a special place in the history of the calculus, because he authored the first differential calculus textbook, Analyse des infiniment petits (1696).

In the preface to his book, the Marquis acknowledged "owing much to the illuminations" of Johann Bernoulli, but did not get into specifics about Bernoulli’s contributions. In the years following the Marquis’ death, Bernoulli made ever greater claims of priority over the contents of the book, once having gone so far as to claim that "Mr. de l’Hôpital had no other part in the production of this book than to have translated into French the material that I gave him, for the most part, in Latin." In the 20th century a number of original documents came to light and we now understand that l’Hôpital’s textbook was essentially the collaboration of a brilliant mathematician and a talented expository writer.

In this talk, we will consider both the mathematics that was presented in the Analyse and the process by which in came into being.:w

Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Speaker: Prof. Prof. Walter Meyer
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: meyer1 AT adelphi DOT edu
Prof. Larry D’Antonio
Ramapo College
Prof. Joe Malkevitch
York College/Graduate Center, CUNY
Title: Cajori Two: Survey of American Undergraduate Mathematics Courses in the 20th Century
Abstract: The Cajori Two Project has collected mathematics curricula from a sample of 20 campuses at 10 year intervals throughout the 20th century. Data from this project has just become available and will be displayed in this talk. Some of it is unsurprising and will confirm objectively what is often asserted casually without evidence. But there are puzzles as well, which can stimulate historical research.
Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Speaker: Prof. Hardy Grant
Department of Mathematics
York University
Email: hardygrant AT yahoo DOT com
Title: Mathematics and The Scientific Revolution
Abstract: The "Scientific Revolution" remains one of intellectual history's supreme fascinations. Some recent scholarship has sought to shift that great watershed from the age of Galileo and Newton toward our own time, while other voices deny its very existence; but such revisionism, valid or not, does not diminish the interest and importance of the traditional scenario that ascribes profound changes in world-view, in our understanding of nature, to the 16th and 17th centuries. The old questions still tease us: Why Europe and not China? What causative factors were truly decisive? The role and significance of mathematics in that tremendous evolution has always seemed vital, but the history of that role presents, on close scrutiny, a tale more tangled than is often supposed. I shall try to offer an overview.