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"On Mathemata". Commenting on Ancient Greek and Arabic Mathematical Texts – 17-18/11/2016, Berlin (Germany)





The corpus of Greek and Arabic mathematical literature is large and heterogeneous, embracing material not only from ‘original’ mathematical treatises, but also from a broad category of texts, usually described as comments or scholia. Their aim is to explain, ‘improve’, and supplement the works of the ancient mathematicians.


Within this framework, a series of interesting questions emerges: When were these texts composed, in what context, and for what purpose? What kind of information could we extract from them? Can we then offer a corresponding typology/classification? In which ways did they shape contemporaneous mathematical and commenting practices? Which operations were carried out in order to produce them? What constituted a restoration/ ‘purification’ of an ancient mathematical treatise? What do we mean by the term ‘mathematical error’? What are the differences and similarities in the commenting approaches between Greek and Islamic scholars? What kind of methodological tools are employed by historians today in order to approach these texts? These are only some of the questions that this conference seeks to address.


FECHA/DATE/DATA: 17-18/11/2016


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO:  room 1.03, TOPOI main building, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE:  The Research Training Group 'Philosophy, Science and the Sciences' (Humboldt University of Berlin)


INFO:  web -

INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE:   Gratis/ free/ gratuito.  Plazas limitadas/limited capacity/capacità limitata


Es necesario mandar un email/please contact/Si prega di contattare  


PROGRAMA/PROGRAM/PROGRAMMA:  disponible también en PDF/also available in PDF/anche disponibile in PDF


8:30-9:00  Introduction     Michalis Sialaros, Humboldt     Chair: Michalis Sialaros 

9:00-09:45  Playing with Persona e. Men of Mathematics in Commentary    Markus Asper, Humboldt 

9:45-10:30 Basic Quantitative Analysis of the Corpus of Greek Mathematical Commentaries Using Visualization Tools Ramon Masià, Open University of Catalonia  


10:30-11:00  Break  


11.00-11:45 Forms and Functions of Mathematical Commentaries in Islamicate Societies .Sonja Brentjes, Max Planck Institute 

11.45-12:30  Commentating on an Early Arabic Version of Euclid's Data  Nathan Sidoli, Waseda University 



12:30-14:00  Lunch   


Chair: Serafina Cuomo 

14:00-14:45  Diophantus, al - Karajī, and Quadratic Equations     Jeffrey Oaks, University of Indianapolis 

14:45-15:30 Ziyadat in Arabic Euclidean Texts:  Explorations in an Underappreciated Form of Commentary  Gregg De Young, American University of Cairo  


15:30-16.00  Break  


16.00-16.45  Ptolemy’s Theory of Harmonia .Jacqueline Feke, University of Waterloo 

16:45-17:30  Aristotle and the Meno’s Paradox     Vassilis Karasmanis, National Technical University of Athens 

17:30-18:15  Pushing and Tugging et the Mechanical Tradition:  Aristotle’s Physics VII     Henry Mendell, California State University  


Friday 18th November 2016


Chair: Jeffrey Oaks 

9:00-09:45  Strategies of Discussion in Proclus’ Commentary on Euclid’s Elements   Orna Harari, University of Tel Aviv 

9:45-10:30 Premodern Algebra as a Historiographical Category Michalis Sialaros, Humboldt  


10:30-11:00  Break  


11.00-11:45 Following the Traces of the Early History of Algebra: Evidence of Practicing Algebra in the Greek Speaking World (4th - 10th century CE)     Jean Christianidis & Athanasia Megremi, University of Athens 

11.45-12:30 Distributivity - like Results in Euclid's Elements and in the Euclidean Medieval Traditions: Between Geometry and Arithmetic .Leo Corry, University of Tel Aviv  


12:30-14:00  Lunch  


Chair: Serafina Cuomo 

14:00-14:45 Diagrams of the Arithmetical books of Euclid’s Elements .Ken Saito, Osaka University 

14:45-15:30  Book II and Renaissance Justifications of Algebraic Rules     Giovanna Cifoletti, Centre A. Koyré  


15:30-16.00  Break  


16:00-16:45 The Development of Axiomatics in the Commentaries to Euclid’s Elements     Vincenzo De Risi, Max Planck Institute  


16:45-17:15  Final Remarks    Coordinator: Serafina Cuomo, Birkbeck College  



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