Florian Cajori

Florian Cajori

Florian Cajori (1859–1930) was a professor of mathematics and physics. He was one of the most celebrated historians of mathematics in his day. Cajori's A History of Mathematics (1894) was the first popular presentation of the history of mathematics in the United States and his 1928–29 History of Mathematical Notations has been described as "unsurpassed."

See also: A History of Mathematics

QuotesEdit

  • The contemplation of the various steps by which mankind has come into possession of the vast stock of mathematical knowledge can hardly fail to interest the mathematician. He takes pride in the fact that his science more than any other is an exact science and that hardly anything ever done in mathematics has proved to be useless.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • The chemist smiles at the childish efforts of alchemists but the mathematician finds the geometry of the Greeks and the arithmetic of the Hindoos as useful and admirable as any research of today.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • The great army of circle-squarers have, for two thousand years, been assaulting a fortification which is as indestructible as the firmament of heaven.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • The interest which pupils take in their studies may be greatly increased if the solution of problems and the cold logic of geometrical demonstrations are interspersed with historical remarks and anecdotes.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • A class in arithmetic will be pleased to hear about the Hindoos and their invention of the "Arabic notation;" they will marvel at the thousands of years which elapsed before people had even thought of introducing into the numeral notation that Columbus-egg—the zero; they will find it astounding that it should have taken so long to invent a notation which they themselves can now learn in a month.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • In his historical talk it is possible for the teacher to make it plain to the student that mathematics is not a dead science but a living one in which steady progress is made.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • The history of mathematics is important also as a valuable contribution to the history of civilisation. Human progress is closely identified with scientific thought. Mathematical and physical researches are a reliable record of intellectual progress. The history of mathematics is one of the large windows through which the philosophic eye looks into past ages and traces the line of intellectual development.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • The sexagesimal system was used also in fractions. Thus, in the Babylonian inscriptions, 1/2 and 1/3 are designated by 30 and 20, the reader being expected, in his mind, to supply the word "sixtieths." The Greek geometer Hypsicles and the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemæus borrowed the sexagesimal notation of fractions from the Babylonians and introduced it into Greece. From that time sexagesimal fractions held almost full sway in astronomical and mathematical calculations until the sixteenth century, when they finally yielded their place to the decimal fractions.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)
  • * The Ahmes papyrus doubtless represents the most advanced attainments of the Egyptians in arithmetic and geometry. It is remarkable that they should have reached so great proficiency in mathematics at so remote a period of antiquity. But strange, indeed, is the fact that during the next two thousand years, they should have made no progress whatsoever in it. ...All the knowledge of geometry which they possessed when Greek scholars visited them, six centuries B.C., was doubtless known to them two thousand years earlier, when they built those stupendous and gigantic structures—the pyramids. An explanation for this stagnation of learning has been sought in the fact that their early discoveries in mathematics and medicine had the misfortune of being entered upon their sacred books and that, in after ages, it was considered heretical to augment or modify anything therein. Thus the books themselves closed the gates to progress.
    • A History of Mathematics (1893)

Quotes about CajoriEdit

  • What is perhaps the greatest blow that has ever come to the student body of Colorado College came last Friday when it was announced that Dean Florian Cajori, for about thirty years the best-known and best-liked professor in the College, had resigned and will not be back with us next year. It was not only on account of the value of his service as an instructor that the students felt such a sense of loss at the announcement, but more on account of the friendship and intimate relationship which he has shown to us. "Caj"... has been closer to this student body than any other one man. It was usually "Caj" who made the speech at the Barbecue, it was "Caj" who talked upcoming events in chapel, it was "Caj" who was always out there at the picnic or the Festival or the ball game. No form of student activity has seemed entirely complete unless our "Caj" has been there or has had something to do with it.
    • The Tiger student newspaper, May 14, 1918 editorial, Colorado College
  • They [the students] looked upon "Caj" as one of their best friends in all the College, and thought of him as the one responsible for their later success. He has had a personal appeal to a great many students... It was the appeal of the one with a human interest in what somebody else is doing, the appeal of the true friend and the hearty well-wisher. It was the appeal of "Caj".
    • The Tiger student newspaper, May 14, 1918 editorial, Colorado College
  • As a mathematician Dean Cajori has achieved a name which very few in this world can equal, a name which is respected all over the globe. His text books and his writings have been published all over the world. We are proud of all the achievements of our "Caj", of course, but we are especially proud of what he has done for us here, and it is for this reason that we shall always hold him in our memory. As a friend and as an instructor he has been more to us than we can ever measure, and we shall always look back upon the days when we had "Caj".
    • The Tiger student newspaper, May 14, 1918 editorial, Colorado College

External linksEdit

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Last modified on 24 August 2013, at 17:57