Computer Science and the History of Mathematics

May 29th, 2015
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For thousands of years mathematicians had little else to aid them in their calculations besides a pen, paper, and abacus. Calculations could take weeks or even months, with no guarantee of accuracy. As calculations grew longer and more complex, advancements in math became limited by human ability.

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Erica Greer and Paul BibbMath 492.001Group ProjectComputer Science and the History of MathematicsFor thousands of years mathematicians had little else to aid them in their calculations besides a pen, paper, and abacus. Calculations could take weeks or even months, with no guarantee of accuracy. As calculations grew longer and more complex, advancements in math became limited by human ability. A need arose for a device to ease redundancy and circumvent the tendency of human error. One of the first constructions of a computing device was a mechanical adding machine created by Blaise Pascal, a famous mathematician, philosopher, and scientist. Built in 1642, the hand-powered machine consisted of a set of gears each with a specific number of teeth. Some of the gears had a single tooth which would catch on the connecting gear only once every revolution. This would turn the connecting gear one increment for each revolution of the single toothed gear. The connected gear had ten teeth so would complete a rotation once every ten increments. When the gears were cranked in the proper sequence, the machine could add using the base ten system. The Pascaline, as the machine was called, was not very successful. Not only was it expensive to build and repair, but it also spawned feelings of technophobia in the mathematicians it threatened to replace.Godfried Leibniz 1646-1716 also played a key role in the development of computer technology. After Pascal had developed his mechanica

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