Hirst Lecture by Karine Chemla

Hirst Lecture by Karine Chemla

Friday 6 May 2022 - 16.00
London Mathematical Society, De Morgan House, and Online

The 2021 LMS-BSHM Hirst Prize and Lectureship was awarded to Professor Karine Chemla (CNRS) for in recognition of her outstanding and innovative work in the history of mathematics.

Professor Chemla has invited Professor Serafina Cuomo (Durham University) to present the Supporting Lecture.

Registration details below.

Programme (All times are in BST)

2.00 pm: Arrival

2.30 pm: Opening of the meeting.

2.45pm: Serafina Cuomo (Durham)

'Maths and the city. A snapshot of numeracy in classical Athens.'

Abtract: I will explore the various spaces and practices for Athenian numeracy in the 5th and 4th century BCE, and discuss rates of numeracy, and also sketch a profile of who may have been numerate at the time.

3.45 pm: Tea

4.15 pmKarine Chemla SPHERE (CNRS & Université de Paris)

'Algebraic work with operations in China, 1st century—13th century'

Abstract: Thirteenth century Chinese mathematical works attest to two interesting innovations. Qin Jiushao’s Mathematical Work in Nine Chapters (Shushu Jiuzhang 數書九章, 1247) describes an algorithm solving congruence equations in ways related to the so-called “Chinese remainder theorem”. Moreover, Li Ye’ 李冶 Measuring the Circle on the Sea-Mirror (Ceyuan haijing, 1248) shows how to use polynomial algebra to establish algebraic equations solving mathematical problems. Both authors make use of the same technical expression: “one establishes one heavenly source/origin as… li tian yuan yi wei….” Historians of the past have relied on modern interpretations of the texts to draw the conclusion that, in the two contexts, this expression had different technical meanings. I suggest interpreting this expression in light of the ancient Chinese mathematical canon and its commentaries. This approach allows us to give the same meaning to the expression and, more importantly, to bring to light a tradition of formal work on operations to which a series of Chinese mathematical documents attests.

5.15 pm: Meeting closes - Wine reception.

6.30 pm: Society Dinner at a nearby venue (TBC).

Further details including the abstracts for the talks can be found on the Society’s website here:



This Society Meeting is being hosted as a hybrid event.

- If you would like attend in-person at De Morgan House, please use this registration form by 10.00am (BST) on Wednesday 4 May 2022.

- If you would like attend remotely via Zoom, please use this registration form by 11.00am (BST) on Friday 6 May 2022.