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.
Pierce, Donna, "Math, God and Politics—A Fight over Geometry in 19th Century Italy" (2015). ACMS Conference Proceedings 2015. 17.
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