AMS Bookstore LOGO amslogo
AMS TextbooksAMS Applications-related Books
The War of Guns and Mathematics: Mathematical Practices and Communities in France and Its Western Allies around World War I
Edited by: David Aubin, Sorbonne Universités, université Pierre et Marie Curie, Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche, France, and Catherine Goldstein, CNRS, Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche, France
History of Mathematics
2014; approx. 400 pp; hardcover
Volume: 42
ISBN-10: 1-4704-1469-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-4704-1469-6
List Price: US$126
Member Price: US$100.80
Order Code: HMATH/42
[Add Item]
Not yet published.
Expected publication date is October 6, 2014.

For a long time, World War I has been shortchanged by the historiography of science. Until recently, World War II was usually considered as the defining event for the formation of the modern relationship between science and society. In this context, the effects of the First World War, by contrast, were often limited to the massive deaths of promising young scientists.

By focusing on a few key places (Paris, Cambridge, Rome, Chicago, and others), the present book gathers studies representing a broad spectrum of positions adopted by mathematicians about the conflict, from militant pacifism to military, scientific, or ideological mobilization. The use of mathematics for war is thoroughly examined.

This book suggests a new vision of the long-term influence of World War I on mathematics and mathematicians. Continuities and discontinuities in the structure and organization of the mathematical sciences are discussed, as well as their images in various milieux. Topics of research and the values with which they were defended are scrutinized. This book, in particular, proposes a more in-depth evaluation of the issue of modernity and modernization in mathematics.

The issue of scientific international relations after the war is revisited by a close look at the situation in a few Allied countries (France, Britain, Italy, and the USA). The historiography has emphasized the place of Germany as the leading mathematical country before WWI and the absurdity of its postwar ostracism by the Allies. The studies presented here help explain how dramatically different prewar situations, prolonged interaction during the war, and new international postwar organizations led to attempts at redrafting models for mathematical developments.


Graduate students and research mathematicians interested in the history of mathematics.

Table of Contents

  • D. Aubin and C. Goldstein -- Placing World War I in the history of mathematics
Starting Up
  • J. Barrow-Green -- Cambridge mathematicians' responses to the First World War
  • D. Aubin, H. Gispert, and C. Goldstein -- The total war of Paris mathematicians
Joining In
  • P. Nastasi and R. Tazzioli -- Italian mathematicians and the First World War: Intellectual debates and institutional innovations
  • T. Archibald, D. Dumbaugh, and D. Kent -- A mobilized community: Mathematicians in the United States during the First World War
Moving On
  • J.-L. Chabert and C. Gilain -- Debating the place of mathematics at the École polytechnique around World War I
  • D. Aubin -- "I'm just a mathematician": Why and how mathematicians collaborated with military ballisticians at Gâvre
Crossing Through
  • L. Rollet and P. Nabonnand -- Why aerodynamics failed to take off in Nancy: An unexpected casualty of World War I
  • Index
Powered by MathJax

  AMS Home | Comments:
© Copyright 2014, American Mathematical Society
Privacy Statement

AMS Social

AMS and Social Media LinkedIn Facebook Podcasts Twitter YouTube RSS Feeds Blogs Wikipedia