Computability in Europe 2008
Logic and Theory of Algorithms

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Special Session Talk:
A Summation Algorithm from 11th Century China: Possible Relations between Structure and Argument

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Speaker: Andréa Bréard
Author(s): Andréa Bréard


Mathematical writings in China relied entirely on the algorithmic mode to express sequences of operations, to justify the correctness of these, and to bring mathematical objects in relation one to another. In this talk, I shall use one example to show how the structural elements in an algorithm convey a mathematical meaning and can be interpreted in the light of the ancient Chinese geometrical tradition. The example stems from an 11th century text by Shen Gua æ²æ¬ and calculates the number of kegs of wine piled up in the form of a truncated pyramid with a rectangular base.

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