May 25 2011

Conviction by Means of Visualization, Not Logics: Graphical Representation of Complex Numbers as a Way to Accept Their Existence Within Mathematics.

Complex numbers were used in mathematical practices since the sixteenth century; yet, their acceptance as legitimate mathematical concepts occurred only during the nineteenth century. The eventual acceptance was due to their construction via graphical representations. What is revealing, moreover, is that this visual mode of conviction had been propagated not by famous mathematicians, but by persons marginal to the community.

Gert Schubring: Research on the History of Teaching and Learning Mathematics. Universities of Bielefeld and Rio de Janeiro. Online profile: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/idm/arge/schubring.htm