The Rise and Development of the Theory of Series up to the Early 1820s
The theory of series in the 17th and 18th centuries poses several interesting problems to historians. Indeed, mathematicians of the time derived num- ous results that range from the binomial theorem to the Taylor formula, from the power series expansions of elementary functions to trigonometric series, from Stirling’s series to series solution of di?erential equations, from theEuler–MaclaurinsummationformulatotheLagrangeinversiontheorem, from Laplace’s theory of generating functions to the calculus of operations, etc. Most of these results were, however, derived using methods that would be found unacceptable today, thus, if we look back to the theory of series priortoCauchywithoutreconstructinginternalmotivationsandtheconc- tual background, it appears as a corpus of manipulative techniques lacking in rigor whose results seem to be the puzzling fruit of the mind of a - gician or diviner rather than the penetrating and complex work of great mathematicians. For this reason, in this monograph, not only do I describe the entire complex of 17th- and 18th-century procedures and results concerning series, but also I reconstruct the implicit and explicit principles upon which they are based, draw attention to the underlying philosophy, highlight competing approaches, and investigate the mathematical context where the series t- ory originated. My aim is to improve the understanding of the framework of 17th- and 18th-century mathematics and avoid trivializing the complexity of historical development by bringing it into line with modern concepts and views and by tacitly assuming that certain results belong, in some unpr- lematic sense, to a uni?ed theory that has come down to us today.
Carefully researched, accompanied by detailed bibliographyProvides a coherent and detailed account of the theory of series in the 18th and early 19th centuriesIncludes a comprehensive account of many results that were previously scattered throughout the historical and textbook literature