Native American Mathematics

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University of Texas Press, 1996 - Mathematics - 439 pages
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There is no question that native cultures in the New World exhibit many forms of mathematical development. This Native American mathematics can best be described by considering the nature of the concepts found in a variety of individual New World cultures. Unlike modern mathematics in which numbers and concepts are expressed in a universal mathematical notation, the numbers and concepts found in native cultures occur and are expressed in many distinctive ways. Native American Mathematics, edited by Michael P. Closs, is the first book to focus on mathematical development indigenous to the New World.

Spanning time from the prehistoric to the present, the thirteen essays in this volume attest to the variety of mathematical development present in the Americas. The data are drawn from cultures as diverse as the Ojibway, the Inuit (Eskimo), and the Nootka in the north; the Chumash of Southern California; the Aztec and the Maya in Mesoamerica; and the Inca and Jibaro of South America. Among the strengths of this collection are this diversity and the multidisciplinary approaches employed to extract different kinds of information. The distinguished contributors include mathematicians, linguists, psychologists, anthropologists, and archaeologists.

 

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Horrible book for anyone who is not a math wizard, impossible to understand and follow along.

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Contents

Preface
1
Native American Number Systems
3
Numerical Representations in North American Rock Art
45
Some Notes on Quantification and Numerals in an Amazon Indian Language
71
The Calendrical and Numerical Systems of the Nootka
93
Chumash Numerals
109
Cultural Ecology of Mathematics
129
Tallies and the Ritual Use of Number in Ojibway Pictography
181
A Survey of Aztec Numbers and Their Uses
213
Decipherment and Some Implications of Aztec Numerical Glyphs
237
Mathematical Ideas of the Incas Marcia Ascher
261
The Mathematical Notation of the Ancient Maya
291
The Zero in the Mayan Numerical Notation
371
In Search of Mesoamerican Geometry
387
References
409
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About the author (1996)

Michael P. Closs is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Ottawa.

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