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Ivor Grattan-Guinness, born 23 June 1941, in Bakewell, in England, is a historian of mathematics and logic.

He gained his Bachelor degree as a Mathematics Scholar at Wadham College, Oxford, got an M.Sc(Econ) in Mathematical Logic and the Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics in 1966. He has gained both the doctorate (Ph.D.) in 1969, and higher doctorate (D.Sc.) 1978, in the History of Science at the University of London. He is Emeritus Professor of the History of Mathematics and Logic at Middlesex University, and a Visiting Research Associate at the London School of Economics.

He was awarded the prestigious Kenneth O. May Medal for services to the History of Mathematics by the International Commission for the History of Mathematics (ICHM) on 31st July 2009, at Budapest, on the occasion of the 23rd International Congress for the History of Science.

He spent much of his career at Middlesex University. He has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and is a member of the Academie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences.

Biographical details

From 1974 to 1981 he was editor of the history of science journal Annals of Science. In 1979 he founded the journal History and Philosophy of Logic, and edited it until 1992. He was an associate editor of Historia Mathematica for twenty years from its inception in 1974, and again from 1996.

He also acts as advisory editor to the editions of the writings of C.S. Peirce and Bertrand Russell, and to several other journals and book series. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics from 1977 to 1993.

He has given over 570 invited lectures to organisations and societies, or to conferences and congresses, in over 20 countries around the world. These lectures include tours undertaken in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, South Africa and Portugal.

From 1986 to 1988 he was the President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, and for 1992 the Vice-President. In 1991 he was elected an effective member of the Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences. He was the Associate Editor for mathematicians and statisticians for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).


The work of Grattan-Guinness touches on all historical periods, but he specialises in the development of the calculus and mathematical analysis, and their applications to mechanics and mathematical physics, and in the rise of set theory and mathematical logic. He has been especially interested in characterising how past thinkers, far removed from us in time, view their findings differently from the way we see them now (for example, Euclid). He has emphasised the importance of ignorance as an epistemological notion in this task. He has done extensive research with original sources both published and unpublished, thanks to his reading and spoken knowledge of the main European languages.

Selected publications


Books written

  • 1970. The Development of the Foundations of Mathematical Analysis from Euler to Riemann. MIT Press (1970).
  • 1972. 'Joseph Fourier 1768-1830' (In collaboration with J.R. Ravetz). MIT Press (1972).
  • 1977. 'Dear Russell - Dear Jourdain'. Duckworth (1977).
  • 1980. From the Calculus to Set Theory, 1630-1910: An Introductory History. Duckworth (1980).
  • 1990. 'Convolutions in French Mathematics, 1800-1840' in 3 Vols. Birkhauser (1990)
  • 1997. The Rainbow of Mathematics: A History of the Mathematical Sciences. Fontana (1997) ISBN 978-000-686179-9 (pbk). W. W. Norton and Company (1999) ISBN 978-0393-04650-2 (hbk) ISBN 0-393-32030-8 (pbk).
  • 2000. (Reprint) From the Calculus to Set Theory 1630-1910: An Introductory History. Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 0-691-07082-2.
  • 2000. The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870-1940: Logics, Set Theories, and the Foundations of Mathematics from Cantor through Russell to Gödel. Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 0-691-05858-X. Bibliography. (For research on this book he held a Leverhulme Fellowship from 1995-1997).


W.H. and G.C. Young, The theory of sets of points, 2nd edition (ed. with R.C.H. Tanner; 1972, New York: Chelsea). [Introduction and appendix.]

E.L. Post, ‘The modern paradoxes’, History and philosophy of logic, 11 (1990), 85-91.

Philip E. B. Jourdain, Selected essays on the history of set theory and logics (1906-1918) (1991, Bologna: CLUEB), xlii + 352 pages. [Introduction and indexes.]

George Boole, Selected manuscripts on logic and its philosophy (ed. with G. Bornet, 1997, Basel: Birkhäuser), lxvi + 236 pages.[Part Introduction and editorial material.]

Grattan-Guinness' The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870-1940 is a sweeping study of the rise of mathematical logic during that critical period. The central theme of the book is the rise of logicism, thanks to the efforts of Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Whitehead, and its demise due to Gödel and indifference. Whole chapters are devoted to the emergence of algebraic logic in the 19th century UK, Cantor and the emergence of set theory, the emergence of mathematical logic in Germany told in a way that downplays Frege's importance, and to Peano and his followers. There follow four chapters devoted to the ideas of the young Bertrand Russell, the writing of Principia Mathematica, and to the mixed reception its ideas and methods encountered over the period 1910-40. The book touches on the rise of model theory as well as proof theory, and on the emergence of American research on the foundation of mathematics, especially in the hands of Eliakim Hastings Moore and his students, of the postulate theorists, and of Quine. While Polish logic is often mentioned, it is not covered systematically. Finally, the book is a contribution to the history of philosophy as well as of mathematics.

Books edited

  • 2003. Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences, 2 vols. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. ISBN 0801873967
  • 2005. Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics. Elsevier.


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ivor Grattan-Guinness (born 23 June 1941) is an English historian of mathematics and logic.



  • Mathematics occupies a peculiar position in cultural life today. 'Everybody knows' that it is one of the most basic, and also ancient, types of knowledge; yet it is not part of normal cultural discourse, and few people know much about its historical development, or even that it has a history.
    • Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences (2003), Volume 1, page 3
  • Non-Newtonian calculi... have considerable potential as alternative approaches to traditional problems.
    • "Non-Newtonian Calculus," Middlesex Math Notes (Middlesex University, England)

The Rainbow of Mathematics: A History of the Mathematical Sciences (2000)

  • From the 3rd century onwards, orthodox Christianity, based on a Hebrew story and worshipping the Jew Jesus, also led many campaigns of anti-Semitism.
    • p. 127
  • It [ non-Euclidean geometry ] would be ranked among the most famous achievements of the entire [nineteenth] century, but up to 1860 the interest was rather slight.
    • p. 400
  • In addition, the teaching of theories from axioms, or some close imitation of them such as the basic laws of an algebra, is usually an educational disaster.
    • p. 739
  • The teaching of axioms should come after conveying the theory in a looser version.
    • p. 740

Quotes about Ivor Grattan-Guinness

  • Grattan-Guinness has achieved a synthesis here of remarkable historical and mathematical scope and sensitivity. His book is a 'must read' for historians of science and mathematics, as well as mathematicians.
    • From Karen Hunger Parshall's review of The Rainbow of Mathematics (2000)
  • Grattan-Guiness's uniformly interesting and valuable account of the interwoven development of logic and related fields of mathematics . . . between 1870 and 1940 presents a significantly revised analysis of the history of the period. . . . [His] book is important because it supplies what has been lacking: a full account of the period from a primary mathematical perspective.
    • From James W. Van Evra's review in Isis of The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870-1940

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
  • Encomium at Mathematical Sciences Foundation.


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