Where do we get our mathematical symbols from? Why is the set of integers called ℤ ? When was the equals sign first used? How about zero? Good notation tends to catch on quickly, whereas bad notation can obscure beautiful theory.
The lecture explores how the introduction of new notation has paved the way for new leaps in understanding, and considers some mathematical quirks of language, such as what the number 4 in English has in common with the number 11 in Russian.
A lecture by Sarah Hart, 27 April
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website: https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/maths-symbols
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 2,000 lectures free to access or download from the website.