Commission on the History of Mathematics

ICHM Session at the International Congress of Mathematicians
Madrid, Spain (August 2006)

"Ibero-American Mathematics in the 19th and in the 20th Centuries"

By Luis Saraiva

This session—organised by Sérgio Nobre (Universidade Estadual Paulista, UNESP, Brazil), Luis Saraiva (CMAF/Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal), and Elena Ausejo (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain)—aimed to contribute to the analysis of the complex relations established between communities initially connected by colonial ties in what concerns mathematical knowledge and its institutions. Specifically, relations between Iberian and South American mathematical communities were analyzed in two different historical moments: the first, at the end of the colonial period, in settings which either saw the colonial powers transfer mathematical knowledge to their colonies or found colonial mathematicians seeking knowledge in Europe; the second, in the 20th century, when mathematicians from the Iberian peninsula left their own countries, many due to the then existing fascist dictatorships, and went to work and to do research in the former colonies (Rey Pastor, Calleja, Sors, Monteiro, Ruy Gomes, among them). Unfortunately, because of health problems, neither Professor Ubiratan D'Ambrósio nor Professor José Cobos Bueno could be in Madrid. The former sent the text of one of his talks to be read during the session. Attendance at the session was quite good, with an average number of 40 people in the audience.

The first session was held on 26 August and was composed of the following talks:

Mariano Hormigón: In Memoriam

Ubiratan D'Ambróosio, Brazilian Society of the History of Mathematics

After recalling the career of Mariano Hormigón, a brief account of his efforts to shape the emerging community of historians of science and mathematics in Latin America and in Spain followed. This talk also explored his role at the intersection of the community of historians of mathematics and the important community of historians of science on the international scene (The text was read by Luis Saraiva and was followed by additional remarks on Professor Hormigón by Leo Corry (Tel Aviv University).)

Matemáticas y matemáticos españoles, del siglo XIX y su influencia en latino america

Santiago Garma, Faculty of Economics, Madrid's Complutense University

Les mathématiciens espagnols, les mathématiques qu'ils ont faites et aussi l'enseignement des mathématiques, dans le système éducatif espagnol, ont passé par des situations très différentielles dès le siècle XVII jusqu'&\agrave; la fin du XIXème siècle. Mais toutes les étapes ont eu en commun quelques constantes: le marginalisation sociale des mathématiciens espagnols, l'isolation et aussi, quelquefois, la persécution politique-religieuse. Tout ça a signalizé et a produit un retard dans l'assimilation des nouveautés mathématiques à l'Espagne et à l'Amérique de langue espagnole.

The Beginnings of the Royal Military Academy of Rio de Janeiro, 1810-1822

Luis Saraiva, CMAF/University of Lisbon, Portugal

The Royal Military Academy of Rio de Janeiro was founded on December 4, 1810 by the Portuguese King D. João VI, then living with the Royal Court in Rio de Janeiro, due to the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. In the Academy, there existed two courses: one in mathematics, which lasted four years, the other in military matters, lasting three years. The former was based on a course adopted in the Faculty of Mathematics of Coimbra University after the major reform of the Portuguese university in 1772. This was a reform that created the first Portuguese Faculty of Mathematics. The scope of the subjects to be studied in the Academy's mathematics course showed a scientific and political will to implement in the colony a mathematics course similar to those of the best European universities. This talk analyzed some of the main characteristics of the Academy as well as the way its students reacted to the strong mathematical component of its courses.

The Homecoming of an Argentine Student of Gauss in 1860

Eduardo L. Ortiz, Mathematics Department, Imperial College, London, UK

This talk dealt with scientific policy in Argentina through the interplay between a political discourse that perceived science and mathematics as a vehicle for social progress at the same time that it predominantly perceived the scientist as a foreign figure. Different official attitudes vis-à-vis local scientists trained abroad and visiting scientists from abroad were considered. Special reference was made to the local reception of visitors from Spain and Portugal during the period under consideration.

The next session was held on 28 August and began with:

A Tribute to Antonio Monteiro (1907-1980) on the Eve of His Centenary
(Including a presentation of The Works of Antonio A. Monteiro)

The Portuguese mathematician A. A. Monteiro played a leading role in the development of research in modern mathematics in Portugal, and then in Brazil and Argentina between 1930 and 1980. His complete mathematics works have been edited by Professors Eduardo L. Ortiz (Imperial College, London) and Alfredo Pereira Gomes (Universidade Lusíada, Lisbon) and published simultaneously in an 8-volume hard-copy edition and in an electronic edition. This work has been supported by the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, and is published jointly with The Humboldt Press, London. The Works of Antonio A. Monteiro were presented by Professors Ernesto García Camarero (former President, Spanish Society for the History of Science and Technology), João Caraça, (Director, Science Department, Gulbenkian Foundation) and Eduardo L. Ortiz. At the end of the session there was a brief demonstration on the use of the electronic edition.

The tribute concluded with three talks, one each by Eduardo Ortiz (Argentina/UK), Ernesto Garcia Camarero (Spain), and João Caraça (Portugal). The first two speakers centered their talks on the life and work of Professor Monteiro, while Professor Caraça—as a representative of the Gulbenkian Foundation—spoke on "The Portuguese scientists' generation of the 40s." To conclude this part of the session, Professor Ortiz made a brief presentation of the edition of Monteiro's Works.

The 28 August session concluded with four individual talks:

Mathematics for the New American Republics: From Spanish Liberal Exile to the Restoration

Elena Ausejo, University of Zaragoza, Spain

This talk examined a period in the history of mathematical relationships between Spain and Latin America, when, just after the first liberating movements at the beginning of the 19th century, Spanish liberals exiled in London produced a peculiar kind of mathematical textbook for the new Republics, namely, the catechisms. This relationship weakened through the 19th century despite some personal contacts.

The Beginnings of Professionalization in Mathematics in Brazil Starting from the 19th Century

Sergio Nobre, S. Paulo State University-UNESP, Brazil

This talk focused on the development of mathematical investigation after the creation of the Royal Military Academy in 1810. In 1842, the first doctoral program in mathematics was established. The creation of the first engineering (polytechnic) schools in the 19th century, the foundation of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in the early 20th century, the creation of the first university in the country, and the beginnings of professionalization in mathematics in these institutions were also events significant to this story.

Ibero-American Mathematics in the 20th Century: The Spanish Perspective

Luis Español, Research Group on History of Mathematics, University of La Rioja, Logroño, Spain

After the "colonial disaster" in Spain in 1898, the new century started in an atmosphere of "national regeneration," in which the advance of the sciences—hence also of mathematics—was a principal aim. This was true only until the civil war of 1936-39; a new flowering of Spanish mathematics came in the last third of the century. Some milestones of the development of Spanish mathematics in the period 1900-1970 were highlighted in this talk as were specific Ibero-American connections.

Some Recollections on the Origins of Automatic Computation in Argentina and Its Antecedents in Spain and Italy

Ernesto Garcia Camarero, Retired Professor of the Mathematics Faculty of Madrid's Complutense University

These recollections were related to the speaker's collaboration with Prof. Julio Rey Pastor at the Institute of Calculus of the CSIC of Madrid, to his trip with JRP to Italy, to their association with the Istituto Nazionale to per le Aplicazioni del Calcolo, and to the invitation to participate in the organization of the Institute of Calculus of the University of Buenos Aires. The CEUNS project of design and construction of an electronic computer in the University of Bahia Blanca was highlighted as was the relationship with Prof. Monteiro. Allusion was also made to the creation in Spain of the Spanish Society of Applied Mathematics (SEMA) and of the magazine, Archimedes, and to the creation in Argentina of the Argentina Society of Calculus (SAC). (This talk was delivered in Spanish with visual aids in English.)