Instituto Superior Pedagógico, Maputo, Mozambique, 22.10.1989
Chairman: Paulus Gerdes (Mozambique)
Secretary: Ahmed Djebbar (Algeria)
Members: Hilda Lea (Botswana), George Njock (Cameroon), Maassouma Kazim (Egypt), Salimata Doumbia (Ivory Coast), J.Mutio (Kenya), Mahomed Aballagh (Morocco), Lawrence Shirley (Nigeria), Abdoulaye Kane (Senegal), Geoffrey Mmari (Tanzania), Mohamed Souissi (Tunisia), Venie Timkumanya (Uganda), Claudia Zaslavsky (USA)
TABLE OF CONTENTS NEWSLETTER #4
5. Have you read? (#45-#51)
2.1 2ND MAGHREBIAN COLLOQUIUM ON THE HISTORY OF ARABIC MATHEMATICS Report by A.Djebbar
The second Maghrebian Colloquium on the History of Arabic Mathematics was held in Tunis (Tunisia), December 1-3, 1988. It was organized by the 'Institut Supérieur de l'Education et de la Formation Continue de Tunis', the Studygroup on the History of Arabic Mathematics and by the Tunisian Association of Mathematical Sciences. Twenty-four papers (11 in Arabic, 3 in English and 10 in French) were presented. They dealt with the following themes:
1. Arabic Mathematics of the East [Y.Atik, R.Bebbouchi, Y.Benrebia,
A.Laib (Algeria), K.Jaouiche (France), A.Abdellatif (Jordania),
Y.Dold-Samplonius (FRG), J.Sesiano (Switserland), S.Chelhoub
(Syria), M.Souissi, H.Hadfi (Tunisia);
The following were contributed papers concerning the history
of mathematics in Africa:
2.2 NATIONAL SEMINAR OF ORAN ON THE HISTORY OF GEOMETRY Report by A.Djebbar
A national seminar on "The geometry of figures during the ages" was held in Oran (Algeria), July 1-3, 1989. It was organised by the Mathematical Research Unit at the University of Oran-Es-Senia. During the seminar 12 papers (all in French) were presented on the following subjects:
1. Geometry in China: J.C.Martzloff (France);
2.3 COLLOQUIUM ON 'THE MAGHREBIAN ASTROLABE'
In order to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the Maghrebian mathematician and astronomer al-Habbak (26.09.1462), a Colloquium on Maghrebian astronomical instruments was held at Tlemcen (Algeria), september 26 - september 28, 1989. The Colloquium was organized by M.Baghli and the Wilaye of Tlemcen. About 50 teachers, lecturers and researchers from various Algerian cities took part in the event. Twelve papers were presented, 7 on astronomy and 5 on mathematics. The following were the contributed papers related to mathematical and astronomical activities in medieval Maghreb:
1. M.Baghli: Evocation of al-Habbak and of his astronomical
poem "What students desire to 'know' about the science of
In parallel to the Colloquium, the organizers held an exposition with mathematical and astronomical manuscripts on loan from the National Library in Alger and with four astronomical instruments: 2 astrolabes, a sun-dial and a compass. During the event, a national association for the preservation and study of Maghrebian astronomical instruments was created.
2.4 PAPERS PRESENTED AT RECENT MEETINGS
* At the 2nd East African Symposium on Current Research Trends in Mathematics, Computer Science and Mathematics Education (Arusha, Tanzania, September 11-16, 1989), a paper by Paulus Gerdes "On Mathematical Elements in the Tchokwe 'Sona' Tradition" (Cf. AMUCHMA2 : 5, AMUCHMA 3: 6 #34, #37, #39, #44, AMUCHMA 4: 3, 7 #46) was read by Abdulcarimo Ismael.
* Yazuha Bello (Bayero University, Nigeria) is doing research
on pre-Islamic Hausa ways of counting.
* Pierre Lapousterie is preparing a study week on the history of mathematics for 5th year students (DEA) of mathematics and mathematical education to take place in Bamako (Mali).
* For the second time (Cf. AMUCHMA
2:6) a seminar and a 1 week course on the history of mathematics
for the 4th year students of the National School of Statistics
and Applied Economics took place in Rabat (Morocco), February
6 - February 11, 1989. The course, attended by 22 students, was
given by A.Djebbar (Algeria) and treated the following themes:
* For the second time (Cf. AMUCHMA
2:6) a 1 semester course on the history of mathematics was
lectured in 1988 for the 1st year students of the Faculty of
Mathematical Sciences at the Eduardo Mondlane University (Maputo,
Mozambique). At the end of the course, the students were required
to write a paper of about 10 pages. Four students chose topics
related to the history of mathematics in Africa:
#45 Kubik, Gerhard: Tusona-Luchazi ideographs, a graphic tradition as practised by a people of West-Central Africa, Verlag Stiglmayr, Fohrenau, Austria, 1988, 311 p.
#46 Kubik, Gerhard: African graphic systems, in: Muntu, revue scientifique et culturelle du Centre International des Civilisations Bantu (CICIBA), Libreville (Gabon), 1986, Vol.4-5, 71-135.
"In pre-colonial times, a varied range of graphic systems existed in Sub-Saharan Africa. The author presents the results of his own investigations made in Tanzania, Malawi, Gabon, Xameroun, Angola and Zambia between 1962 and 1984". The author analyses also tusona- luchazi-ideographs (Cf. AMUCHMA2: 5; AMUCHMA3: 6 #34, #37, #39, #44; AMUCHMA4: 2.3, 3).
"The forefathers of the Eastern Angolan peoples discovered higher mathematics and a non-Euclidian geometry on an empirical basis applying their insights to the invention of these [tusona] unique configurations" (p.108).
#47 Lagercrantz, Sture: African tally-strings, in: Anthropos (FRG), Vol.63, 1968, 115-128.
Gives an overview of the ethnographic literature on mnemonic aids in counting in Sub-Saharan Africa. Map on p.126 shows the distribution of tally-strings over the continent. The most important tallies of higher age are the "memorial cairns (i.e. the custom that every one passing a place where someone for instance has suffered a violent death throws down a stone or a stick)".
#48 Obenga, Théophile: Notes sur les connaissances astronomiques bantu, in: MUNTU, revue scientifique et culturelle du CICIBA, Libreville (Gabon), Vol.6, 1987, 63-78.
Reviews the literature on astronomical knowledge in ancient Egypt, among the Borana (Ethiopia), Dogon, Lobi,Bambara (West Africa), Vili (Congo), Fang (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinee, Gabon), and Mbochi (Congo).
#49 Schmidl, Marianne: Zahl und Zählen in Afrika, in: Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, Vienna (Austria), Vol.45, 1915, 165-209.
In the first part an overview and comparative analysis of counting systems in Sub-Saharan Africa is given. The second part deals with psychological and historical factors that influence the development of counting (systems).
#50 Vellard, Dominique: Counting Practices of Illiterate Country People in West-Africa, paper presented at the 4th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Adelaide (Australia), 4 p.
Describes the use of the traditional 'bamane' counting system by illiterate Bambara (Mali). It is a mixed counting system with bases 10. 80 and 800.
#51 Washburn, Dorothy & Crowe, Donald: Symmetries of Culture, Theory and Practice of Plane Pattern Analysis, University of Washington Press, Washington (USA), 1988, 312 p.
This book shows how patterns from cultures from all over the
world, can be classified according to the symmetries which generate
them. It examines a number of patterns from African contexts.
6.1 The 3rd Maghrebian Colloquium on the History of Arabic Mathematics will be held in Alger (Algeria) from 1 to 3 December 1990. The 4th Colloquium (1992) will be held at the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences at the University of Fez (Morocco).
6.2 Maghrebian Commission on the History of Science
On December 3, 1988 is was decided in Tunis (Tunisia) to create a Maghrebian Commission on the History of Science. Its statutes (actually in preparation) will be those of a non- profit, N.G.O. (Non-Government-Organisation) with scientific character. Its task will be to coordinate all efforts that envisage at the level of the Maghreb the promotion and development of different activities concerning the History of Science (publications; national, regional or international colloquia; education, etc.).
6.3 Algerian Association for the History of Mathematics
The Algerian Association for the History of Mathematics (A.A.H.M.)
was created in Alger, November 7, 1988. Its first Chairman is
Y.Atik of the 'Ecole Normal Supérieur' in Alger. The Association
has the following aims:
The activities of the Association for 1989 are the following:
6.4 World Historical Congress
Paulus Gerdes (Mozambique) will present an invited paper entitled
"On Ethnomathematics and the History of Mathematics in Africa"
at the 17th World Historical Congress to be held in Madrid (Spain),
August 26 - September 2, 1990.
The author of #26, #27 and #28, Prof. Abraham Seidenberg (born
2.6.1916) died 3.5.1988 (University of California, Berkeley,
1. AAHM, Association Algérienne d'Histoire des Mathématiques, Département de Mathématiques, E.N.S. de Kouba, 16050 Vieux Kouba, Alger, Algeria
2. Atik, Y.: Département de Mathématiques, E.N.S. de Kouba, 16050 Vieux Kouba, Alger, Algeria
3. Bello, Yahuza: Department of Mathematics, Bayero University, Kano, P.M.B. 3011, Nigeria
4. CICIBA, Centre International des Civilisations Bantu, B.P.770, Libreville, Gabon
5. Crowe, Donald: Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin, 480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA
6. Djebbar, Ahmed: Département de Mathématiques, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
7. Fauvel, John: Faculty of Mathematics, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA
8. Gerdes, Paulus: C.P.915, Maputo, Mozambique
9. Groupe de Recherche et d'Etude de la Science Ancienne Bantu (GRESAB), Université Louis Pasteur, Strassbourg, France
10. Guillemot, M.: 10 impasse de la Pélude, 31400 Toulouse, France
11. Ismael, Abdulcarimo: Department of Mathematics, Higher Pedagogical Institute, C.P.3276, Maputo, Mozambique
12. Kane, A.E.: Département de Philosophie, Université de Dakar, Senegal
13. King, D.A.: Institut für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Goethe Universität, Bettinastrasse 64, 6000 Frankfurt, F.R. of Germany
14. Kubik, Gerhard: Burghardtgasse 6/9, A-1200 Wien, Austria
15. Lapousterie, Pierre: Mission Française de Coopération, B.P.84, Bamako, Mali
16. Obenga, Théophile: CICIBA, B.P.770, Libreville, Gabon
17. Ould Ali: Département de Mathématiques, Université d'Oran-Es-Senia, Es-Senia (Oran), Algeria
18. Sadji, M.D.: 3 Castor, 16300 Bir Mourad Rais, Alger, Algeria
19. Shirley, Lawrence: Department of Mathematics, Towson State University, Towson MD 21204-7079, USA
20. Vellard, Dominique: U.E.R. de Didactique, 46-45 1er étage, 2 place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France
21. Wasburn, Dorothy: Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA
22. Zerrouki, M.: Cité Hassein Mahiouz, Bt. B 11, no. 98, Ben Aknoun, Alger, Algeria
The English version of AMUCHMA 4 is reproduced and distributed with financial support from SAREC (Sweden)
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The Department of Mathematics,
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