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Mathematics and Social Utopias in France: Olinde Rodrigues and His Times
Edited by: Simon Altmann, Brasenose College, Oxford University, England, and Eduardo L. Ortiz, Imperial College, London, England
A co-publication of the AMS and the London Mathematical Society.

History of Mathematics
2005; 168 pp; softcover
Volume: 28
ISBN-10: 0-8218-4253-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-4253-9
List Price: US$53
Member Price: US$42.40
Order Code: HMATH/28.S
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Social reformer, banker, and mathematician, Olinde Rodrigues is a fascinating figure of nineteenth-century Paris. Information about him is obscure--scattered in publications on history, mathematics, and the social sciences--and often inaccurate. Rodrigues left no papers or archives. Here, for the first time, is an authoritative account of his family history, education, and important mathematical works. Written by a team of prominent mathematicians and historians, the book comprises the interests and associations that make Rodrigues such a remarkable character in the history of mathematics. This is a superb panorama of nineteenth-century France, portrayed through the life and work of Olinde Rodrigues.

The beginning chapters attempt to recreate the scientific and social background of nineteenth-century Paris and Rodrigues's place in it. The following chapters discuss his contributions to a variety of mathematical fields (e.g., orthogonal polynomials, combinatorics, and rotations). The final chapters discuss contemporary reactions to his mathematical work. Sufficient background is given to make it accessible to readers familiar with basic college mathematics. The book is suitable for specialists in the history of mathematics and/or science, graduate students, and mathematicians.


Specialists in the history of mathematics and/or science, graduate students, and mathematicians.


"[T]his book provides a rich and culturally embedded picture of an unusual figure of the 19th century."

-- Historia Mathematica

"The authors have put together, for the first time, archival re-sources and documents on B. O. Rodrigues, which are scattered throughout a variety of archives, to show different aspects of Rodrigues'fascinating life and to describe his interesting mathematical works and his influence on mathematics in France."

-- EMS Newsletter

Table of Contents

  • S. Altmann and E. L. Ortiz -- Introduction
  • S. Altmann, D. Siminovitch, and B. M. Ratcliffe -- Olinde Rodrigues and his times
  • B. M. Ratcliffe -- Towards a better understanding of Olinde Rodrigues and his circle: Family and faith in his life and career
  • P. Ferruta -- Euphrasie and Olinde Rodrigues: The 'woman question' within Saint-Simonism
  • I. Grattan-Guinness -- Rodrigues's early work in mathematics, 1813-1816
  • R. Askey -- The 1839 paper on permutations: Its relation to the Rodrigues formula and further developments
  • U. Tamm -- Olinde Rodrigues and combinatorics
  • J. Gray -- Olinde Rodrigues's paper of 1840 on a group of transformations
  • E. L. Ortiz -- After Rodrigues: From rotations to quaternions
  • Index
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