What Diagrams Argue in Late Imperial Chinese Combinatorial Texts

Bréard A (2015)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2015


Book Volume: 20

Pages Range: 241-264

Journal Issue: 3

DOI: 10.1163/15733823-00203p02


Attitudes towards diagrammatic reasoning and visualization in mathematics were seldom spelled out in texts from pre-modern China, although illustrations figure prominently in mathematical literature since the eleventh century. Taking the sums of finite series and their combinatorial interpretation as a case study, this article investigates the epistemological function of illustrations from the eleventh to the nineteenth century that encode either the mathematical objects themselves or represent their related algorithms. It particularly focuses on the two illustrations given in Wang Lai's (1768-1813) Mathematical Principles of Sequential Combinations, arguing that they reflect a specific mode of nineteenth-century mathematical argumentative practice and served as a heuristic model for later authors.

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Bréard, A. (2015). What Diagrams Argue in Late Imperial Chinese Combinatorial Texts. Early Science and Medicine, 20(3), 241-264. https://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15733823-00203p02


Bréard, Andrea. "What Diagrams Argue in Late Imperial Chinese Combinatorial Texts." Early Science and Medicine 20.3 (2015): 241-264.

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