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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"The Subjective Underbelly of Hardheaded Math," by Edward Rothstein. NewYork Times, 20 December 1997, page A1.

This article examines the question of whether mathematics is timeless andimmutable, or subject to social and political influences. Rothstein discussesthe emerging field of ethnomathematics, which seeks to describe the kinds ofmathematics that arise in non-Western cultures. He also discusses theviewpoints of various philosophers and in particular presents some views ofReuben Hersh, whose book What is Mathematics Really? muses on howdifferent areas of mathematics seem to be associated with certain politicalviews.

See also "The Subjective Underbellyof Hardheaded Math", and Tworeviews of The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics .

--- Allyn Jackson