The War of Guns and Mathematics: Mathematical Practices and Communities in France and Its Western Allies around World War I

David Aubin, Catherine Goldstein
American Mathematical Society, 7 d’oct. 2014 - 391 pàgines

For a long time, World War I has been shortchanged by the historiography of science. Until recently, World War II was usually considered as the defining event for the formation of the modern relationship between science and society. In this context, the effects of the First World War, by contrast, were often limited to the massive deaths of promising young scientists.

By focusing on a few key places (Paris, Cambridge, Rome, Chicago, and others), the present book gathers studies representing a broad spectrum of positions adopted by mathematicians about the conflict, from militant pacifism to military, scientific, or ideological mobilization. The use of mathematics for war is thoroughly examined.

This book suggests a new vision of the long-term influence of World War I on mathematics and mathematicians. Continuities and discontinuities in the structure and organization of the mathematical sciences are discussed, as well as their images in various milieux. Topics of research and the values with which they were defended are scrutinized. This book, in particular, proposes a more in-depth evaluation of the issue of modernity and modernization in mathematics.

The issue of scientific international relations after the war is revisited by a close look at the situation in a few Allied countries (France, Britain, Italy, and the USA). The historiography has emphasized the place of Germany as the leading mathematical country before WWI and the absurdity of its postwar ostracism by the Allies. The studies presented here help explain how dramatically different prewar situations, prolonged interaction during the war, and new international postwar organizations led to attempts at redrafting models for mathematical developments.


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Placing World War I in the History of Mathematics
Cambridge Mathematicians Responses to the First World War
The Total War of Paris Mathematicians
Intellectual Debates and Institutional Innovations
Mathematicians in the United States during the First World War
Debating the Place of Mathematics at the École polytechnique around World War I
Why and How Mathematicians Collaborated with Military Ballisticians at Gâvre
An Unexpected Casualty of World War I
Back Cover

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Sobre l'autor (2014)

David Aubin, Sorbonne Universites, universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Institut de mathematiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche, France

Catherine Goldstein, CNRS, Institut de mathematiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche, France

Informació bibliogràfica