First academic publication devoted to Japan since the beginning of the 20th century
Provides substantial information on the historical and intellectual context of Japanese science
Substantial information on the mathematical contents of Seki Takakazu and Katebe Katahiro
Japanese mathematics, known also under the name of wasan, experienced a remarkable development between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Wasan took its roots from the Chinese tradition of mathematics and shared its language and its categories of problems, but gave it a new impetus, transforming the Chinese algebraic method of the "heavenly element" into a powerful tool with a much wider scope. All domains of mathematical research were revisited in the light of this new algebra.
This book focuses on the first period of the development of wasan. It offers a survey of the earliest manuals for learning the use of the abacus published in the seventeenth century, notably the famous Jinkoki, which counted among the bestsellers of the Tokugawa period. The works of the two greatest mathematicians of this period, Seki Takakazu and Takebe Katahiro, and the way they transformed the face of mathematics, are examined in detail, with particular emphasis on the historical context, the relations between these two mathematicians and the political leaders of the epoch, and the role that mathematics played in this rapidly rising society.