Archimedes in China: Archimedes and His Works in Chinese Literature of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics book series (PROMS, volume 39)


Some parallels can be drawn between Archimedes and Liu Hui, Seki Takakazu, among other oriental mathematicians in ancient and medieval times, especially in terms of the concepts and methods concerning infinitesimal. It would be fantastic to make a comparative study along this direction, but this is not my task in this short talk. Instead, a focus will be put on Archimedes and his works as portrayed in Chinese literature of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The talk is based on a holistic investigation of the literature of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, with a timeline focused on two phases: first, the late Ming and early Qing period, i.e. the first half of the 17th century, when interest in calendar reform afforded an opportunity for the introduction into China of classical Western astronomical and mathematical knowledge; and second, following the conclusion of the Second Opium War in the late Qing Dynasty, that is, from 1861 to the onset of the 20th century, contemporary Western science was widely introduced into China. This period was also for Chinese mathematics a transition from the traditional to the modern phase.

Therefore the exact content of the talk should be “Archimedes and his Works in Chinese Literature of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.”

I will begin with mathematics, and then discuss mechanics and legends, before making a brief conclusion.


Qing Dynasty Chinese Literature Elemental Physic Western Learn Late Qing Dynasty 
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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the History of Natural ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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