Dutch Algebra and Arithmetic in Japan before the Meiji Restoration

TitleDutch Algebra and Arithmetic in Japan before the Meiji Restoration
Publication TypeBook Chapter (with title)
Year of PublicationIn Press
AuthorsHeeffer, A
Secondary AuthorsVandoulakis, IM, Dun, L
Book TitleNavigating across Mathematical Cultures and Times: Exploring the Diversity of Discoveries and Proofs
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.

This paper gives an overview of the scarce occasions in which Japan came into contact with Western arithmetic and algebra before the Meiji restoration of 1868. After the refutation of persistent claims on the influence through Japanese students at Leiden during the seventeenth century, it concentrates on the reception of Dutch works during the last decades of the Tokugawa shogunate and the motivations to study and translate these books. While some studies based on Japanese sources have already been published on this period,2 this paper draws from Dutch sources and in particular on witness accounts from Dutch officers at the Nagasaki naval school, responsible for the instruction of mathematics to selected samurai and rangakusha. Two Japanese textbooks on arithmetic from that period are viewed within the context of this naval training school.

Citation KeyHA_DuAlJ
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