Wasan: native japanese mathematics
During the Edo period (1603-1868) Japan was relatively isolated from
Western influences. During this period Japanese mathematics, which was
mostly based on Chinese sources, developed in its own ideosyncratic way.
The question how mathematics could develop different from its (Western)
historical course, is partially answered by this Wasan tradition. As such,
wasan is a very fruitful object to study conceptual developement in
mathematics. We will list here some links, historical sources and a
bibliography of wasan.
- A bibliography of
secundary literature on wasan in
Some links to original sources
- A digital version of a book on sangaku (temple geometry problems)
can be found here.
- The largest collection of wasan books is kept at
Tohoku University Library.
It contains of 14,470 books from the collections of Tsuruichi
Hayashi (1873 - 1935) and has now grown to over 18,000 books.
- Digital versions of about one
hunderd wasan books mostly by Yoshida Mistuyoshi (吉田光由)
- Another digital library at Waseda University with a
beautiful color copy of
- A scan of the front and back page of my own copy of
jingoki mokuroku of 1654
- The Japanese translation of the Chinese classic
Introduction to mathematical studies) is titled Sanpō ketsugishō
A digital version of a later copy can be found
Sources in the history of algebra before 1600
This is a repository of original problems texts from manuscripts and books on algebra before 1600.
The primary sources are stored in an on-line database which contains a list of works
with all their extant editions and a conspectus of problems. Each problem has an unique
identifier code which can be used for reference. The code consists of 8 characters, three letters
referring to the original work and 2 to 5 alphanumerics which can be a numbering from the
original work or a page reference.
- Problems texts are given in their original language which can be Latin, French,
Italian, Spanisch, German, Dutch and Englisch. For Sanskrit, Arabic and Hebrew texts a
translation is being used, prefererably in Englisch if available.
- The source for the transcription is shown at the beginning of the problem list for
a given work. If no source is mentioned, the transcription is by myself.
- It is the intention to provide a mathematical description of each problem together with
the problem text. This mathematical transliteration is a meta-description, which is not
included in the original work, except for some late sixteenth-century editions. The meta-
description is intended for better understanding of the original problem. The actual symbolic
representation in the text and solution method employed, can be very different from the
formulas given in the meta-description. If the mathematical transliteration is taken from
secundary sources, these will be mentioned at the beginning of the problem list.
If no source is mentioned, the transcription is by myself.
- This database is part of a research project "Development of concepts and the evolution
of science. Symbolic algebra in the 16th and 17th century. A case study", at the
Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science
from Ghent University and is sponsored by the
Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders.
The Father Henri Bosmans (S.J.) archive
As a tribute to the Belgian historian of mathematics, Henri Bosmans, we
present here an archive
with information about his life and works and a complete database of his