Same Rods, Same Calculation? Contextualizing Computations in Early Eighteenth-Century Korea

  • Young Sook OhEmail author
Part of the Mathematics Education in the Digital Era book series (MEDE, volume 11)


The early eighteenth-century Korean mathematical sources testify that there were two types of authorship, the mathematical officials in the lower class and the literati in the upper class. This paper aims to show how each authorship, from dissimilar educational background, affected and transformed the algorithms and grounds of the computation differently in spite of the usage of the same computational tool, based on the analysis of two early eighteenth-century mathematical texts, the Writings of Nine and One (Kuiljip 九一集) by a skilled mathematical official, Hong Chǒng-ha 洪正夏 (1684–?), and the Summary of Nine Numbers (Kusuryak 九數略) by a renowned member of the literati, Ch’oe Sǒk-chǒng 崔錫鼎 (1646–1715). In their texts on the computational techniques using counting rods, Hong appraised the adeptness in handling counting rods and expanded the existing algorithms based on the real practice, while Ch’oe approved the algorithms in which he could find the meaning close to that conveyed by texts and images of Confucian philosophical tradition.


Counting rods Early eighteenth-century Korea Mathematical officials Literati 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program of History and Philosophy of ScienceSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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