Euclid and His Heritage
A Clay Mathematics Institute Conference at Oxford
Bernard Sunley Lecture Theatre
St. Catherine's College
October 7-8, 2005
9 am — 6 pm
A conference on Euclid and his Heritage is to be held on the occasion of the publication, for the first time, of a complete digital edition of the oldest surviving manuscript of Euclid's Elements. Written around 300 BC, this is the founding document of mathematics. The manuscript, dating from the year 888 AD, was copied by Stephen the Clerk in Constantinople, and since 1804 has been in the collection of the Bodleian Library. The digital edition was prepared by the Octavo corporation, which photographed the manuscript at the Bodleian in the fall of 2004.
The conference will bring together classicists, historians, mathematicians and philosophers to provide a fresh look at Euclid's work, the transmission of Greek science from ancient to modern times, and the influence over twenty-three centuries of the Greek revolution in mathematics - the notion of proof, the systematic use of figures, and the organization of a complex and interconnected body of knowledge in the form of an axiomatic system.
The conference is open to all, and there is no fee for attendees.. However, to facilitate planning, we ask you to fill out the online registration form below. Lunch will be served on October 7 and 8 in the elegant dining hall of St. Catherine's College, located next to the lecture hall where the conference is held. You are urged to make hotel reservations early in order receive a favorable rate. Two options for hotel accomodations are given below.
More about the conference
For over two millennia the Euclidean tradition drove intellectual developments and shaped science and education. Questions about the parallel postulate led to the development of non-Euclidan geometry and inquiries into the foundations of mathematics that had far-reaching impact on logic, computer science, and physics. Newton, in his Principia, used the Elements as his model for organizing the new physics.
The conference will also examine how the Euclidean tradition was transmitted from ancient times to the present. How close is the current text of Euclid to the original, written around 300 BC, more than a millennium before the earliest "copy?" Were figures used in ancient times? What can we learn from the manuscripts themselves — Greek, Arabic, and Latin?
Above you see displayed a thumbnail of a page from the d'Orville manuscript of Euclid's Elements (click to enlarge). Many more images from this and other ancient manuscripts will be on display at the conference exhibit. These exhibits will also feature state of the art software tools that have been developed for the study and comparison of manuscripts in multiple languages. There will also be a short, illustrated presentation on the role of digital imaging technology in the preservation, dissemination, and study of old manuscripts.