UPMC's scientific digital library


The collection on line here collects together some sixty mathematical books published in France between the beginning of the seventeenth and the end of the nineteenth centuries. Mathematics has never ceased to constantly reactivate ideas immersed in ancient texts. To mention ony a few examples: the rediscovery in the 1970s of the works of E. E. Kummer (1810–1893) which played such a key role in the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem at the end of the twentieth century; the Boussinesq (1842–1929) approximation in fluid mechanics, the matrices of Bézout (1730–1783) in the theory of linear systems; all three are back at the core of current research.

The books that are digitized here also reflect the renewal of the history of science in the last decades; we now better understand how multiple factors have contributed to the evolution of mathematical disciplines and to the diversification of their interactions with the world at large. We have thus been able to revalue the interest of having new types of sources, which may differ by their material form, their public, as well as by the mathematical results they host. History of mathematics thus crosses general history, the histories of education and teaching, of books, of writing and information, and, of course, of other sciences and techniques.

Famous authors (Huygens, Poncelet, Hermite) as well as almost unknown ones (Leroy, Germain) are here both witnesses and actors alike, on different scales, of the adventure of mathematics. An important place is given to textbooks, allowing us to grasp the diffusion of new concepts, from Cauchy's theory of complex functions to projective geometry. Applied mathematics too are well represented; they witness the early and continued use of mathematics to understand, model, and compute all sorts of phenomena, both natural and human, including finance, measurement, planets, gases, and machines.

Catherine Goldstein, CNRS, Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu