The procedure of the Section of Pieces of Areas in Li Ye and Yang Hui's works: Genealogy of diagrams and equations

Charlotte V. Pollet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The study of algebra in China has often focused on the algebraic “procedure of the Celestial Source.” Its geometrical ancestors are less known. The Yigu yanduan, authored by Li Ye (1192-1279), presents the procedure alongside its two geometrical counterparts, the “Section of Pieces [of Areas]” and the “Old Procedure.” The three procedures are known to represent three generations of algorithms used to set up quadratic equations. A similar geometrical procedure appears in a treatise written by Yang Hui (second half of thirteenth century). Although the procedures look alike at first glance, the two treatises reveal different moments in their work on the relation between counting materials and geometrical representation. This study challenges their chronology trying to identify the meander of the geometrical roots of the Celestial Source. The construction of negative coefficients plays a pivotal role in this mutation and shows several layers of composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-63
Number of pages27
JournalScience in Context
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Algorithmic equation
  • China
  • Geometry
  • Li Ye
  • Negative coefficient
  • Yang Hui

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