1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mathematics
MATHEMATICS (Gr. μαθηματική, sc. τέχνη or ἐπιστήμη; from μάθημα, “learning” or “science”), the general term for the various applications of mathematical thought, the traditional field of which is number and quantity. It has been usual to define mathematics as “the science of discrete and continuous magnitude.” Even Leibnitz, who initiated a more modern point of view, follows the tradition in thus confining the scope of mathematics properly so called, while apparently conceiving it as a department of a yet wider science of reasoning. A short consideration of some leading topics of the science will exemplify both the plausibility and inadequacy of the above definition. Arithmetic, algebra, and the infinitesimal calculus, are sciences directly concerned with integral numbers, rational (or fractional) numbers, and real numbers generally, which include incommensurable numbers. It would seem that “the general theory of discrete and continuous quantity” is the exact description of the topics of these sciences. Furthermore, can we not complete the circle of the mathematical sciences by adding geometry? Now geometry deals with points, lines, planes and cubic contents. Of these all except points are quantities: lines involve lengths, planes involve areas, and cubic contents involve volumes. Also, as the Cartesian geometry shows, all the relations between points are expressible in terms of geometric quantities. Accordingly, at first sight it seems reasonable to define geometry in some such way as “the science of dimensional quantity.” Thus every subdivision of mathematical science would appear to deal with quantity, and the definition of mathematics as “the science of quantity” would appear to be justified. We have now to consider the reasons for rejecting this definition as inadequate.
Types of Critical Questions.—What are numbers? We can talk of five apples and ten pears. But what are “five” and “ten” apart from the apples and pears? Also in addition to the cardinal numbers there are the ordinal numbers: the fifth apple and the tenth pear claim thought. What is the relation of “the fifth” and “the tenth” to “five” and “ten”? “The first rose of summer” and “the last rose of summer” are parallel phrases, yet one explicitly introduces an ordinal number and the other does not. Again, “half a foot” and “half a pound” are easily defined. But in what sense is there “a half,” which is the same for “half a foot” as “half a pound”? Furthermore, incommensurable numbers are defined as the limits arrived at as the result of certain procedures with rational numbers. But how do we know that there is anything to reach? We must know that √2 exists before we can prove that any procedure will reach it. An expedition to the North Pole has nothing to reach unless the earth rotates.
Also in geometry, what is a point? The straightness of a straight line and the planeness of a plane require consideration. Furthermore, “congruence” is a difficulty. For when a triangle “moves,” the points do not move with it. So what is it that keeps unaltered in the moving triangle? Thus the whole method of measurement in geometry as described in the elementary textbooks and the older treatises is obscure to the last degree. Lastly, what are “dimensions”? All these topics require thorough discussion before we can rest content with the definition of mathematics as the general science of magnitude; and by the time they are discussed the definition has evaporated. An outline of the modern answers to questions such as the above will now be given. A critical defence of them would require a volume.
Cardinal Numbers.—A one-one relation between the members of two classes α and β is any method of correlating all the members of α to all the members of β, so that any member of α has one and only one correlate in β, and any member of β has one and only one correlate in α. Two classes between which a one-one relation exists have the same cardinal number and are called cardinally similar; and the cardinal number of the class α is a certain class whose members are themselves classes—namely, it is the class composed of all those classes for which a one-one correlation with α exists. Thus the cardinal number of α is itself a class, and furthermore α is a member of it. For a one-one relation can be established between the members of α and α by the simple process of correlating each member of α with itself. Thus the cardinal number one is the class of unit classes, the cardinal number two is the class of doublets, and so on. Also a unit class is any class with the property that it possesses a member x such that, if y is any member of the class, then x and y are identical. A doublet is any class which possesses a member x such that the modified class formed by all the other members except x is a unit class. And so on for all the finite cardinals, which are thus defined successively. The cardinal number zero is the class of classes with no members; but there is only one such class, namely—the null class. Thus this cardinal number has only one member. The operations of addition and multiplication of two given cardinal numbers can be defined by taking two classes α and β, satisfying the conditions (1) that their cardinal numbers are respectively the given numbers, and (2) that they contain no member in common, and then by defining by reference to α and β two other suitable classes whose cardinal numbers are defined to be respectively the required sum and product of the cardinal numbers in question. We need not here consider the details of this process.
With these definitions it is now possible to prove the following six premisses applying to finite cardinal numbers, from which Peano has shown that all arithmetic can be deduced:—
i. Cardinal numbers form a class.
ii. Zero is a cardinal number.
iii. If a is a cardinal number, a + 1 is a cardinal number.
iv. If s is any class and zero is a member of it, also if when x is a cardinal number and a member of s, also x + 1 is a member of s, then the whole class of cardinal numbers is contained in s.
v. If a and b are cardinal numbers, and a + 1 = b + 1, then a = b.
vi. If a is a cardinal number, then a + 1 ≠ 0.
It may be noticed that (iv) is theprinciple of mathematical induction. Peano in an historical note refers its first explicit employment, although without a general enunciation, to Maurolycus in his work, Arithmeticorum libri duo (Venice, 1575).
But now the difficulty of confining mathematics to being the science of number and quantity is immediately apparent. For there is no self-contained science of cardinal numbers. The proof of the six premisses requires an elaborate investigation into the general properties of classes and relations which can be deduced by the strictest reasoning from our ultimate logical principles. Also it is purely arbitrary to erect the consequences of these six principles into a separate science. They are excellent principles of the highest value, but they are in no sense the necessary premisses which must be proved before any other propositions of cardinal numbers can be established. On the contrary, the premisses of arithmetic can be put in other forms, and, furthermore, an indefinite number of propositions of arithmetic can be proved directly from logical principles without mentioning them. Thus, while arithmetic may be defined as that branch of deductive reasoning concerning classes and relations which is concerned with the establishment of propositions concerning cardinal numbers, it must be added that the introduction of cardinal numbers makes no great break in this general science. It is no more than an interesting subdivision in a general theory.
Ordinal Numbers.—We must first understand what is meant by “order,” that is, by “serial arrangement.” An order of a set of things is to be sought in that relation holding between members of the set which constitutes that order. The set viewed as a class has many orders. Thus the telegraph posts along a certain road have a space-order very obvious to our senses; but they have also a time-order according to dates of erection, perhaps more important to the postal authorities who replace them after fixed intervals. A set of cardinal numbers have an order of magnitude, often called the order of the set because of its insistent obviousness to us; but, if they are the numbers drawn in a lottery, their time-order of occurrence in that drawing also ranges them in an order of some importance. Thus the order is defined by the “serial” relation. A relation (R) is serial when (1) it implies diversity, so that, if x has the relation R to y, x is diverse from y; (2) it is transitive, so that if x has the relation R to y, and y to z, then x has the relation R to z; (3) it has the property of connexity, so that if x and y are things to which any things bear the relation R, or which bear the relation R to any things, then either x is identical with y, or x has the relation R to y, or y has the relation R to x. These conditions are necessary and sufficient to secure that our ordinary ideas of “preceding” and “succeeding” hold in respect to the relation R. The “field” of the relation R is the class of things ranged in order by it. Two relations R and R′ are said to be ordinally similar, if a one-one relation holds between the members of the two fields of R and R′, such that if x and y are any two members of the field of R, such that x has the relation R to y, and if x′ and y ′ are the correlates in the field of R′ of x and y, then in all such cases x′ has the relation R′ to y ′, and conversely, interchanging the dashes on the letters, i.e. R and R′, x and x′, &c. It is evident that the ordinal similarity of two relations implies the cardinal similarity of their fields, but not conversely. Also, two relations need not be serial in order to be ordinally similar; but if one is serial, so is the other. The relation-number of a relation is the class whose members are all those relations which are ordinally similar to it. This class will include the original relation itself. The relation-number of a relation should be compared with the cardinal number of a class. When a relation is serial its relation-number is often called its serial type. The addition and multiplication of two relation-numbers is defined by taking two relations R and S, such that (1) their fields have no terms in common; (2) their relation-numbers are the two relation-numbers in question, and then by defining by reference to R and S two other suitable relations whose relation-numbers are defined to be respectively the sum and product of the relation-numbers in question. We need not consider the details of this process. Now if n be any finite cardinal number, it can be proved that the class of those serial relations, which have a field whose cardinal number is n, is a relation-number. This relation-number is the ordinal number corresponding to n; let it be symbolized by ṅ. Thus, corresponding to the cardinal numbers 2, 3, 4 . . . there are the ordinal numbers 2., 3., 4. . . . The definition of the ordinal number 1 requires some little ingenuity owing to the fact that no serial relation can have a field whose cardinal number is 1; but we must omit here the explanation of the process. The ordinal number ȯ is the class whose sole member is the null relation—that is, the relation which never holds between any pair of entities. The definitions of the finite ordinals can be expressed without use of the corresponding cardinals, so there is no essential priority of cardinals to ordinals. Here also it can be seen that the science of the finite ordinals is a particular subdivision of the general theory of classes and relations. Thus the illusory nature of the traditional definition of mathematics is again illustrated.
Cantor’s Infinite Numbers.—Owing to the correspondence between the finite cardinals and the finite ordinals, the propositions of cardinal arithmetic and ordinal arithmetic correspond point by point. But the definition of the cardinal number of a class applies when the class is not finite, and it can be proved that there are different infinite cardinal numbers, and that there is a least infinite cardinal, now usually denoted by ℵ0, where ℵ is the Hebrew letter aleph. Similarly, a class of serial relations, called well-ordered serial relations, can be defined, such that their corresponding relation-numbers include the ordinary finite ordinals, but also include relation-numbers which have many properties like those of the finite ordinals, though the fields of the relations belonging to them are not finite. These relation-numbers are the infinite ordinal numbers. The arithmetic of the infinite cardinals does not correspond to that of the infinite ordinals. The theory of these extensions of the ideas of number is dealt with in the article Number. It will suffice to mention here that Peano’s fourth premiss of arithmetic does not hold for infinite cardinals or for infinite ordinals. Contrasting the above definitions of number, cardinal and ordinals, with the alternative theory that number is an ultimate idea incapable of definition, we notice that our procedure exacts a greater attention, combined with a smaller credulity; for every idea, assumed as ultimate, demands a separate act of faith.
The Data of Analysis.—Rational numbers and real numbers in general can now be defined according to the same general method. If m and n are finite cardinal numbers, the rational number m/n is the relation which any finite cardinal number x bears to any finite cardinal number y when n×x = m×y. Thus the rational number one, which we will denote by 1r, is not the cardinal number 1; for 1r is the relation 1/1 as defined above, and is thus a relation holding between certain pairs of cardinals. Similarly, the other rational integers must be distinguished from the corresponding cardinals. The arithmetic of rational numbers is now established by means of appropriate definitions, which indicate the entities meant by the operations of addition and multiplication. But the desire to obtain general enunciations of theorems without exceptional cases has led mathematicians to employ entities of ever-ascending types of elaboration. These entities are not created by mathematicians, they are employed by them, and their definitions should point out the construction of the new entities in terms of those already on hand. The real numbers, which include irrational numbers, have now to be defined. Consider the serial arrangement of the rationals in their order of magnitude. A real number is a class (α, say) of rational numbers which satisfies the condition that it is the same as the class of those rationals each of which precedes at least one member of α. Thus, consider the class of rationals less than 2r; any member of this class precedes some other members of the class—thus 1/2 precedes 4/3, 3/2 and so on; also the class of predecessors of predecessors of 2r is itself the class of predecessors of 2r. Accordingly this class is a real number; it will be called the real number 2R. Note that the class of rationals less than or equal to 2r is not a real number. For 2r is not a predecessor of some member of the class. In the above example 2R is an integral real number, which is distinct from a rational integer, and from a cardinal number. Similarly, any rational real number is distinct from the corresponding rational number. But now the irrational real numbers have all made their appearance. For example, the class of rationals whose squares are less than 2r satisfies the definition of a real number; it is the real number √2. The arithmetic of real numbers follows from appropriate definitions of the operations of addition and multiplication. Except for the immediate purposes of an explanation, such as the above, it is unnecessary for mathematicians to have separate symbols, such as 2, 2r and 2R, or 2/3 and (2/3)R. Real numbers with signs (+ or −) are now defined. If a is a real number, +a is defined to be the relation which any real number of the form x+a bears to the real number x, and −a is the relation which any real number x bears to the real number x+a. The addition and multiplication of these “signed” real numbers is suitably defined, and it is proved that the usual arithmetic of such numbers follows. Finally, we reach a complex number of the nth order. Such a number is a “one-many” relation which relates n signed real numbers (or n algebraic complex numbers when they are already defined by this procedure) to the n cardinal numbers 1, 2 . . . n respectively. If such a complex number is written (as usual) in the form x1e1+x2e2+. . .+xnen, then this particular complex number relates x1 to 1, x2 to 2, . . . xn to n. Also the “unit” e1 (or es) considered as a number of the system is merely a shortened form for the complex number (+1) e1+oe2+. . .+oen. This last number exemplifies the fact that one signed real number, such as o, may be correlated to many of the n cardinals, such as 2 . . . n in the example, but that each cardinal is only correlated with one signed number. Hence the relation has been called above “one-many.” The sum of two complex numbers x1e1+x2e2+. . .+xnen and y1e1+y2e2+. . .+ynen is always defined to be the complex number (x1+y1)e1+(x2+y2)e2+. . .+(xn+yn)en. But an indefinite number of definitions of the product of two complex numbers yield interesting results. Each definition gives rise to a corresponding algebra of higher complex numbers. We will confine ourselves here to algebraic complex numbers—that is, to complex numbers of the second order taken in connexion with that definition of multiplication which leads to ordinary algebra. The product of two complex numbers of the second order—namely, x1e1+x2e2 and y1e1+y2e2, is in this case defined to mean the complex (x1y1−x2y2)e1+(x1y2+x2y1)e2. Thus e1×e1 = e1, e2×e2 = −e1, e1×e2 = e2×e1 = e2. With this definition it is usual to omit the first symbol e1, and to write i or √−1 instead of e2. Accordingly, the typical form for such a complex number is x+yi, and then with this notation the above-mentioned definition of multiplication is invariably adopted. The importance of this algebra arises from the fact that in terms of such complex numbers with this definition of multiplication the utmost generality of expression, to the exclusion of exceptional cases, can be obtained for theorems which occur in analogous forms, but complicated with exceptional cases, in the algebras of real numbers and of signed real numbers. This is exactly the same reason as that which has led mathematicians to work with signed real numbers in preference to real numbers, and with real numbers in preference to rational numbers. The evolution of mathematical thought in the invention of the data of analysis has thus been completely traced in outline.
Definition of Mathematics.—It has now become apparent that the traditional field of mathematics in the province of discrete and continuous number can only be separated from the general abstract theory of classes and relations by a wavering and indeterminate line. Of course a discussion as to the mere application of a word easily degenerates into the most fruitless logomachy. It is open to any one to use any word in any sense. But on the assumption that “mathematics” is to denote a science well marked out by its subject matter and its methods from other topics of thought, and that at least it is to include all topics habitually assigned to it, there is now no option but to employ “mathematics” in the general sense of the “science concerned with the logical deduction of consequences from the general premisses of all reasoning.”
Geometry.—The typical mathematical proposition is: “If x, y, z . . . satisfy such and such conditions, then such and such other conditions hold with respect to them.” By taking fixed conditions for the hypothesis of such a proposition a definite department of mathematics is marked out. For example, geometry is such a department. The “axioms” of geometry are the fixed conditions which occur in the hypotheses of the geometrical propositions. The special nature of the “axioms” which constitute geometry is considered in the article Geometry (Axioms). It is sufficient to observe here that they are concerned with special types of classes of classes and of classes of relations, and that the connexion of geometry with number and magnitude is in no way an essential part of the foundation of the science. In fact, the whole theory of measurement in geometry arises at a comparatively late stage as the result of a variety of complicated considerations.
Classes and Relations.—The foregoing account of the nature of mathematics necessitates a strict deduction of the general properties of classes and relations from the ultimate logical premisses. In the course of this process, undertaken for the first time with the rigour of mathematicians, some contradictions have become apparent. That first discovered is known as Burali-Forti’s contradiction, and consists in the proof that there both is and is not a greatest infinite ordinal number. But these contradictions do not depend upon any theory of number, for Russell’s contradiction does not involve number in any form. This contradiction arises from considering the class possessing as members all classes which are not members of themselves. Call this class w; then to say that x is a w is equivalent to saying that x is not an x. Accordingly, to say that w is a w is equivalent to saying that w is not a w. An analogous contradiction can be found for relations. It follows that a careful scrutiny of the very idea of classes and relations is required. Note that classes are here required in extension, so that the class of human beings and the class of rational featherless bipeds are identical; similarly for relations, which are to be determined by the entities related. Now a class in respect to its components is many. In what sense then can it be one? This problem of “the one and the many” has been discussed continuously by the philosophers. All the contradictions can be avoided, and yet the use of classes and relations can be preserved as required by mathematics, and indeed by common sense, by a theory which denies to a class—or relation—existence or being in any sense in which the entities composing it—or related by it—exist. Thus, to say that a pen is an entity and the class of pens is an entity is merely a play upon the word “entity”; the second sense of “entity” (if any) is indeed derived from the first, but has a more complex signification. Consider an incomplete proposition, incomplete in the sense that some entity which ought to be involved in it is represented by an undetermined x, which may stand for any entity. Call it a propositional function; and, if φx be a propositional function, the undetermined variable x is the argument. Two propositional functions φx and ψx are “extensionally identical” if any determination of x in φx which converts φx into a true proposition also converts ψx into a true proposition, and conversely for ψ and φ. Now consider a propositional function Fχ in which the variable argument χ is itself a propositional function. If Fχ is true when, and only when, χ is determined to be either φ or some other propositional function extensionally equivalent to φ, then the proposition Fφ is of the form which is ordinarily recognized as being about the class determined by φx taken in extension—that is, the class of entities for which φx is a true proposition when x is determined to be any one of them. A similar theory holds for relations which arise from the consideration of propositional functions with two or more variable arguments. It is then possible to define by a parallel elaboration what is meant by classes of classes, classes of relations, relations between classes, and so on. Accordingly, the number of a class of relations can be defined, or of a class of classes, and so on. This theory is in effect a theory of the use of classes and relations, and does not decide the philosophic question as to the sense (if any) in which a class in extension is one entity. It does indeed deny that it is an entity in the sense in which one of its members is an entity. Accordingly, it is a fallacy for any determination of x to consider “x is an x” or “x is not an x” as having the meaning of propositions. Note that for any determination of x, “x is an x” and “x is not an x,” are neither of them fallacies but are both meaningless, according to this theory. Thus Russell’s contradiction vanishes, and an examination of the other contradictions shows that they vanish also.
Applied Mathematics.—The selection of the topics of mathematical inquiry among the infinite variety open to it has been guided by the useful applications, and indeed the abstract theory has only recently been disentangled from the empirical elements connected with these applications. For example, the application of the theory of cardinal numbers to classes of physical entities involves in practice some process of counting. It is only recently that the succession of processes which is involved in any act of counting has been seen to be irrelevant to the idea of number. Indeed, it is only by experience that we can know that any definite process of counting will give the true cardinal number of some class of entities. It is perfectly possible to imagine a universe in which any act of counting by a being in it annihilated some members of the class counted during the time and only during the time of its continuance. A legend of the Council of Nicea illustrates this point: “When the Bishops took their places on their thrones, they were 318; when they rose up to be called over, it appeared that they were 319; so that they never could make the number come right, and whenever they approached the last of the series, he immediately turned into the likeness of his next neighbour.” Whatever be the historical worth of this story, it may safely be said that it cannot be disproved by deductive reasoning from the premisses of abstract logic. The most we can do is to assert that a universe in which such things are liable to happen on a large scale is unfitted for the practical application of the theory of cardinal numbers. The application of the theory of real numbers to physical quantities involves analogous considerations. In the first place, some physical process of addition is presupposed, involving some inductively inferred law of permanence during that process. Thus in the theory of masses we must know that two pounds of lead when put together will counterbalance in the scales two pounds of sugar, or a pound of lead and a pound of sugar. Furthermore, the sort of continuity of the series (in order of magnitude) of rational numbers is known to be different from that of the series of real numbers. Indeed, mathematicians now reserve “continuity” as the term for the latter kind of continuity; the mere property of having an infinite number of terms between any two terms is called “compactness.” The compactness of the series of rational numbers is consistent with quasi-gaps in it—that is, with the possible absence of limits to classes in it. Thus the class of rational numbers whose squares are less than 2 has no upper limit among the rational numbers. But among the real numbers all classes have limits. Now, owing to the necessary inexactness of measurement, it is impossible to discriminate directly whether any kind of continuous physical quantity possesses the compactness of the series of rationals or the continuity of the series of real numbers. In calculations the latter hypothesis is made because of its mathematical simplicity. But, the assumption has certainly no a priori grounds in its favour, and it is not very easy to see how to base it upon experience. For example, if it should turn out that the mass of a body is to be estimated by counting the number of corpuscles (whatever they may be) which go to form it, then a body with an irrational measure of mass is intrinsically impossible. Similarly, the continuity of space apparently rests upon sheer assumption unsupported by any a priori or experimental grounds. Thus the current applications of mathematics to the analysis of phenomena can be justified by no a priori necessity.
In one sense there is no science of applied mathematics. When once the fixed conditions which any hypothetical group of entities are to satisfy have been precisely formulated, the deduction of the further propositions, which also will hold respecting them, can proceed in complete independence of the question as to whether or no any such group of entities can be found in the world of phenomena. Thus rational mechanics, based on the Newtonian Laws, viewed as mathematics is independent of its supposed application, and hydrodynamics remains a coherent and respected science though it is extremely improbable that any perfect fluid exists in the physical world. But this unbendingly logical point of view cannot be the last word upon the matter. For no one can doubt the essential difference between characteristic treatises upon “pure” and “applied” mathematics. The difference is a difference in method. In pure mathematics the hypotheses which a set of entities are to satisfy are given, and a group of interesting deductions are sought. In “applied mathematics” the “deductions” are given in the shape of the experimental evidence of natural science, and the hypotheses from which the “deductions” can be deduced are sought. Accordingly, every treatise on applied mathematics, properly so-called, is directed to the criticism of the “laws” from which the reasoning starts, or to a suggestion of results which experiment may hope to find. Thus if it calculates the result of some experiment, it is not the experimentalist’s well-attested results which are on their trial, but the basis of the calculation. Newton’s Hypotheses non fingo was a proud boast, but it rests upon an entire misconception of the capacities of the mind of man in dealing with external nature.
Synopsis of Existing Developments of Pure Mathematics.—A complete classification of mathematical sciences, as they at present exist, is to be found in the International Catalogue of Scientific Literature promoted by the Royal Society. The classification in question was drawn up by an international committee of eminent mathematicians, and thus has the highest authority. It would be unfair to criticize it from an exacting philosophical point of view. The practical object of the enterprise required that the proportionate quantity of yearly output in the various branches, and that the liability of various topics as a matter of fact to occur in connexion with each other, should modify the classification.
Section A deals with pure mathematics. Under the general heading “Fundamental Notions” occur the subheadings “Foundations of Arithmetic,” with the topics rational, irrational and transcendental numbers, and aggregates; “Universal Algebra,” with the topics complex numbers, quaternions, ausdehnungslehre, vector analysis, matrices, and algebra of logic; and “Theory of Groups,” with the topics finite and continuous groups. For the subjects of this general heading see the articles Algebra, Universal; Groups, Theory of; Infinitesimal Calculus; Number; Quaternions; Vector Analysis. Under the general heading “Algebra and Theory of Numbers” occur the subheadings “Elements of Algebra,” with the topics rational polynomials, permutations, &c., partitions, probabilities; “Linear Substitutions,” with the topics determinants, &c., linear substitutions, general theory of quantics; “Theory of Algebraic Equations,” with the topics existence of roots, separation of and approximation to, theory of Galois, &c. “Theory of Numbers,” with the topics congruences, quadratic residues, prime numbers, particular irrational and transcendental numbers. For the subjects of this general heading see the articles Algebra; Algebraic Forms; Arithmetic; Combinatorial Analysis; Determinants; Equation; Fraction, Continued; Interpolation; Logarithms; Magic Square; Probability. Under the general heading “Analysis” occur the subheadings “Foundations of Analysis,” with the topics theory of functions of real variables, series and other infinite processes, principles and elements of the differential and of the integral calculus, definite integrals, and calculus of variations; “Theory of Functions of Complex Variables,” with the topics functions of one variable and of several variables; “Algebraic Functions and their Integrals,” with the topics algebraic functions of one and of several variables, elliptic functions and single theta functions, Abelian integrals; “Other Special Functions,” with the topics Euler’s, Legendre’s, Bessel’s and automorphic functions; “Differential Equations,” with the topics existence theorems, methods of solution, general theory; “Differential Forms and Differential Invariants,” with the topics differential forms, including Pfaffians, transformation of differential forms, including tangential (or contact) transformations, differential invariants; “Analytical Methods connected with Physical Subjects,” with the topics harmonic analysis, Fourier’s series, the differential equations of applied mathematics, Dirichlet’s problem; “Difference Equations and Functional Equations,” with the topics recurring series, solution of equations of finite differences and functional equations. For the subjects of this heading see the articles Differential Equations; Fourier’s Series; Fraction, Continued; Function; Function of Real Variables; Function Complex; Groups, Theory of; Infinitesimal Calculus; Maxima and Minima; Series; Spherical Harmonics; Trigonometry; Variations, Calculus of. Under the general heading “Geometry” occur the subheadings “Foundations,” with the topics principles of geometry, non-Euclidean geometries, hyperspace, methods of analytical geometry; “Elementary Geometry,” with the topics planimetry, stereometry, trigonometry, descriptive geometry; “Geometry of Conics and Quadrics,” with the implied topics; “Algebraic Curves and Surfaces of Degree higher than the Second,” with the implied topics; “Transformations and General Methods for Algebraic Configurations,” with the topics collineation, duality, transformations, correspondence, groups of points on algebraic curves and surfaces, genus of curves and surfaces, enumerative geometry, connexes, complexes, congruences, higher elements in space, algebraic configurations in hyperspace; “Infinitesimal Geometry: applications of Differential and Integral Calculus to Geometry,” with the topics kinematic geometry, curvature, rectification and quadrature, special transcendental curves and surfaces; “Differential Geometry: applications of Differential Equations to Geometry,” with the topics curves on surfaces, minimal surfaces, surfaces determined by differential properties, conformal and other representation of surfaces on others, deformation of surfaces, orthogonal and isothermic surfaces. For the subjects under this heading see the articles Conic Sections; Circle; Curve; Geometrical Continuity; Geometry, Axioms of; Geometry, Euclidean; Geometry, Projective; Geometry, Analytical; Geometry, Line; Knots, Mathematical Theory of; Mensuration; Models; Projection; Surface; Trigonometry.
This survey of the existing developments of pure mathematics confirms the conclusions arrived at from the previous survey of the theoretical principles of the subject. Functions, operations, transformations, substitutions, correspondences, are but names for various types of relations. A group is a class of relations possessing a special property. Thus the modern ideas, which have so powerfully extended and unified the subject, have loosened its connexion with “number” and “quantity,” while bringing ideas of form and structure into increasing prominence. Number must indeed ever remain the great topic of mathematical interest, because it is in reality the great topic of applied mathematics. All the world, including savages who cannot count beyond five, daily “apply” theorems of number. But the complexity of the idea of number is practically illustrated by the fact that it is best studied as a department of a science wider than itself.
Synopsis of Existing Developments of Applied Mathematics.—Section B of the International Catalogue deals with mechanics. The heading “Measurement of Dynamical Quantities” includes the topics units, measurements, and the constant of gravitation. The topics of the other headings do not require express mention. These headings are: “Geometry and Kinematics of Particles and Solid Bodies”; “Principles of Rational Mechanics”; “Statics of Particles, Rigid Bodies, &c.”; “Kinetics of Particles, Rigid Bodies, &c.”; “General Analytical Mechanics”; “Statics and Dynamics of Fluids”; “Hydraulics and Fluid Resistances”; “Elasticity.” For the subjects of this general heading see the articles Mechanics; Dynamics, Analytical; Gyroscope; Harmonic Analysis; Wave; Hydromechanics; Elasticity; Motion, Laws of; Energy; Energetics; Astronomy (Celestial Mechanics); Tide. Mechanics (including dynamical astronomy) is that subject among those traditionally classed as “applied” which has been most completely transfused by mathematics—that is to say, which is studied with the deductive spirit of the pure mathematician, and not with the covert inductive intention overlaid with the superficial forms of deduction, characteristic of the applied mathematician.
Every branch of physics gives rise to an application of mathematics. A prophecy may be hazarded that in the future these applications will unify themselves into a mathematical theory of a hypothetical substructure of the universe, uniform under all the diverse phenomena. This reflection is suggested by the following articles: Aether; Molecule; Capillary Action; Diffusion; Radiation, Theory of; and others.
The applications of mathematics to statistics (see Statistics and Probability) should not be lost sight of; the leading fields for these applications are insurance, sociology, variation in zoology and economics.
The History of Mathematics.—The history of mathematics is in the main the history of its various branches. A short account of the history of each branch will be found in connexion with the article which deals with it. Viewing the subject as a whole, and apart from remote developments which have not in fact seriously influenced the great structure of the mathematics of the European races, it may be said to have had its origin with the Greeks, working on pre-existing fragmentary lines of thought derived from the Egyptians and Phœnicians. The Greeks created the sciences of geometry and of number as applied to the measurement of continuous quantities. The great abstract ideas (considered directly and not merely in tacit use) which have dominated the science were due to them—namely, ratio, irrationality, continuity, the point, the straight line, the plane. This period lasted from the time of Thales, c. 600 B.C., to the capture of Alexandria by the Mahommedans, A.D. 641. The medieval Arabians invented our system of numeration and developed algebra. The next period of advance stretches from the Renaissance to Newton and Leibnitz at the end of the 17th century. During this period logarithms were invented, trigonometry and algebra developed, analytical geometry invented, dynamics put upon a sound basis, and the period closed with the magnificent invention of (or at least the perfecting of) the differential calculus by Newton and Leibnitz and the discovery of gravitation. The 18th century witnessed a rapid development of analysis, and the period culminated with the genius of Lagrange and Laplace. This period may be conceived as continuing throughout the first quarter of the 19th century. It was remarkable both for the brilliance of its achievements and for the large number of French mathematicians of the first rank who flourished during it. The next period was inaugurated in analysis by K. F. Gauss, N. H. Abel and A. L. Cauchy. Between them the general theory of the complex variable, and of the various “infinite” processes of mathematical analysis, was established, while other mathematicians, such as Poncelet, Steiner, Lobatschewsky and von Staudt, were founding modern geometry, and Gauss inaugurated the differential geometry of surfaces. The applied mathematical sciences of light, electricity and electromagnetism, and of heat, were now largely developed. This school of mathematical thought lasted beyond the middle of the century, after which a change and further development can be traced. In the next and last period the progress of pure mathematics has been dominated by the critical spirit introduced by the German mathematicians under the guidance of Weierstrass, though foreshadowed by earlier analysts, such as Abel. Also such ideas as those of invariants, groups and of form, have modified the entire science. But the progress in all directions has been too rapid to admit of any one adequate characterization. During the same period a brilliant group of mathematical physicists, notably Lord Kelvin (W. Thomson), H. V. Helmholtz, J. C. Maxwell, H. Hertz, have transformed applied mathematics by systematically basing their deductions upon the Law of the conservation of energy, and the hypothesis of an ether pervading space.
Bibliography.—References to the works containing expositions of the various branches of mathematics are given in the appropriate articles. It must suffice here to refer to sources in which the subject is considered as one whole. Most philosophers refer in their works to mathematics more or less cursorily, either in the treatment of the ideas of number and magnitude, or in their consideration of the alleged a priori and necessary truths. A bibliography of such references would be in effect a bibliography of metaphysics, or rather of epistemology. The founder of the modern point of view, explained in this article, was Leibnitz, who, however, was so far in advance of contemporary thought that his ideas remained neglected and undeveloped until recently; cf. Opuscules et fragments inédits de Leibnitz. Extraits des manuscrits de la bibliothèque royale de Hanovre, by Louis Couturat (Paris, 1903), especially pp. 356–399, “Generales inquisitiones de analysi notionum et veritatum” (written in 1686); also cf. La Logique de Leibnitz, already referred to. For the modern authors who have rediscovered and improved upon the position of Leibnitz, cf. Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, begriffsschriftlich abgeleitet von Dr G. Frege, a.o. Professor an der Univ. Jena (Bd. i., 1893; Bd. ii., 1903, Jena); also cf. Frege’s earlier works, Begriffsschrift, eine der arithmetischen nachgebildete Formelsprache des reinen Denkens (Halle, 1879), and Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik (Breslau, 1884); also cf. Bertrand Russell, The Principles of Mathematics (Cambridge, 1903), and his article on “Mathematical Logic” in Amer. Quart. Journ. of Math. (vol. xxx., 1908). Also the following works are of importance, though not all expressly expounding the Leibnitzian point of view: cf. G. Cantor, “Grundlagen einer allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre,” Math. Annal., vol. xxi. (1883) and subsequent articles in vols. xlvi. and xlix.; also R. Dedekind, Stetigkeit und irrationales Zahlen (1st ed., 1872), and Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen? (1st ed., 1887), both tracts translated into English under the title Essays on the Theory of Numbers (Chicago, 1901). These works of G. Cantor and Dedekind were of the greatest importance in the progress of the subject. Also cf. G. Peano (with various collaborators of the Italian school), Formulaire de mathématiques (Turin, various editions, 1894–1908; the earlier editions are the more interesting philosophically); Felix Klein, Lectures on Mathematics (New York, 1894); W. K. Clifford, The Common Sense of the exact Sciences (London, 1885); H. Poincaré, La Science et l’hypothèse (Paris, 1st ed., 1902), English translation under the title, Science and Hypothesis (London, 1905); L. Couturat, Les Principes des mathématiques (Paris, 1905); E. Mach, Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwickelung (Prague, 1883), English translation under the title, The Science of Mechanics (London, 1893); K. Pearson, The Grammar of Science (London, 1st ed., 1892; 2nd ed., 1900, enlarged); A. Cayley, Presidential Address (Brit. Assoc., 1883); B. Russell and A. N. Whitehead, Principia Mathematica (Cambridge, 1911). For the history of mathematics the one modern and complete source of information is M. Cantor’s Vorlesungen über Geschichte der Mathematik (Leipzig, 1st Bd., 1880; 2nd Bd., 1892; 3rd Bd., 1898; 4th Bd., 1908; 1st Bd., von den ältesten Zeiten bis zum Jahre 1200, n. Chr.; 2nd Bd., von 1200–1668; 3rd Bd., von 1668–1758; 4th Bd., von 1795 bis 1799); W. W. R. Ball, A Short History of Mathematics (London 1st ed., 1888, three subsequent editions, enlarged and revised, and translations into French and Italian). (A. N. W.)
- Cf. La Logique de Leibnitz, ch. vii., by L. Couturat (Paris, 1901).
- Cf. The Principles of Mathematics, by Bertrand Russell (Cambridge, 1903).
- Cf. Formulaire mathématique (Turin, ed. of 1903); earlier formulations of the bases of arithmetic are given by him in the editions of 1898 and of 1901. The variations are only trivial.
- Cf. Russell, loc. cit., pp. 199–256.
- The first unqualified explicit statement of part of this definition seems to be by B. Peirce, “Mathematics is the science which draws necessary conclusions” (Linear Associative Algebra, § i. (1870), republished in the Amer. Journ. of Math., vol. iv. (1881) ). But it will be noticed that the second half of the definition in the text—“from the general premisses of all reasoning”—is left unexpressed. The full expression of the idea and its development into a philosophy of mathematics is due to Russell, loc. cit.
- “Una questione sui numeri transfiniti,” Rend. del circolo mat. di Palermo, vol. xi. (1897); and Russell, loc. cit., ch. xxxviii.
- Cf. Russell, loc. cit., ch. x.
- Cf. Pragmatism: a New Name for some Old Ways of Thinking (1907).
- Due to Bertrand Russell, cf. “Mathematical Logic as based on the Theory of Types,” Amer. Journ. of Math. vol. xxx. (1908). It is more fully explained by him, with later simplifications, in Principia mathematica (Cambridge).
- Cf. Stanley’s Eastern Church, Lecture v.
- Cf. A Short History of Mathematics, by W. W. R. Ball.