Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In 1839 a polemic, reminiscent of the Renaissance public challenges over mathematical problems, was issued by the leader of the synthetic school of geometry, Vincent Flauti, to the analytical school, headed by Fortunato Padula. Three geometric problems were proposed, all carefully chosen to guarantee a victory for the synthetic school. The judges were from the Royal Academy of Sciences, men also favorable to the synthetic method. Why then did the analytics take up this challenge, and who were the real victors? This was not just a fight over the ‘correct’ way to do geometry, it was a fight over politics, a changing society, and most importantly, the Godly way to do mathematics. In this talk we will learn the goals and motivations of the synthetic school and the analytical school, the means they used to achieve those goals, and the final outcomes for mathematics and Italy.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.