Chapter

A new mathematical classic?

Catherine Jami

in The Emperor's New Mathematics

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199601400
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729218 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601400.003.0017
A new mathematical classic?

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The Essence of numbers and their principles was completed in 1721. As decided back in 1713, it was to join the Correct interpretation of [standard] pitchpipes and a treatise on astronomy in a three-fold compendium entitled Origins of pitchpipes and the calendar. In 1722, a draft of the treatise on astronomy, entitled Thorough investigation of astronomical phenomena was in turn completed. However, Kangxi passed away in December of that year, before he could write the preface that was to assert the unity of the three treatises and to mark the conclusion of the project for which the Office of Mathematics had been founded. Instead his fourth son, Prince Yinzhen, who succeeded him as the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–35), wrote the preface, which bears a symbolically important date: the first day of the tenth month of the first year of his reign (29 October 1723). Each year, on that day, the following year's calendar was officially promulgated; this was the first time that the new emperor presided over such a ceremony. Starting from this preface, this chapter gives an overview of the content of the treatises on harmonics and astronomy. It then describes the team that contributed to the imperial compendium. Finally, it outlines the posterity of the threefold compendium, including the role played by the Essence of numbers and their principles in the development of mathematics during the mid-Qing period.

Keywords: treatise; Pince Yinzhen; calendar; harmonics; astronomy; compendium

Chapter.  8916 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Mathematics

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