Nine Chapters on Mathematical Modernity

Essays on the Global Historical Entanglements of the Science of Numbers in China

  • Andrea Bréard

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Andrea Bréard
    Pages 1-18
  3. Andrea Bréard
    Pages 51-76
  4. Andrea Bréard
    Pages 77-105
  5. Andrea Bréard
    Pages 195-224
  6. Andrea Bréard
    Pages 225-236
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 237-281

About this book


The book addresses for the first time the dynamics associated with the modernization of mathematics in China from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century from a transcultural global historical perspective. Rather than depict the transformations of mathematical knowledge in terms of a process of westernization, the book analyzes the complex interactions between different scientific communities and the ways in which the past, modernity, language, and mathematics were negotiated in a global context. 

In each chapter, Andrea Bréard provides vivid portraits of a series of go-betweens (such as translators, educators, or state statisticians) based on a vast array of translated primary sources hitherto unavailable to a non-Chinese readership. They not only illustrate how Chinese scholars mediated between new mathematical objects and discursive modes, but also how they instrumentalized their autochthonous scientific roots in specific political and intellectual contexts. While sometimes technical in style, the book addresses all readers who are interested in the global and cultural history of science and the complexities involved in the making of universal mathematics. 

“While the pursuit of modernity is in the title, entanglement is of as much interest. Using the famous ‘Nine Chapters’ as a framework, Bréard considers a wide range of that entanglement from divination to data management. Bréard’s analysis and thought-provoking insights show once again how much we can learn when two cultures intersect. A fascinating read!” (John Day, Boston University).


History of mathematics in China Modernization of mathematics Global history of science Non-Western history of mathematics Transcultural history of science History of mathematical symbolism History of statistics in China History of primality tests History of the rectification of the ellipse History of inductive proof and argumentation Universal mathematics

Authors and affiliations

  • Andrea Bréard
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculté des Sciences d’OrsayUniversité Paris-SudOrsayFrance

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-93694-9
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-93695-6
  • Series Print ISSN 2191-656X
  • Series Online ISSN 2191-6578
  • Buy this book on publisher's site