Numeracy and the Mathematical Profession in the 18th Century
The 18th century features a rich variety of forms of numeracy, depending on region, profession, or also usage of communication media. Only in the last quarter of the century do several forces slowly line up to “normalize” numeracy and make it an integral part of compulsory alphabetization, the start of a process that will take yet another century to be realised. The profession mirrors this diversity, the mathematician as such does not exist yet, but (some kind of) mathematics is appreciated and sometimes put to practice by a number of professionals. Some trends and movements can be discerned in this variety that help to explain later, 19th century evolutions.
Maarten Bullynck studied mathematics, Germanic languages and media theory in Gent and Berlin. His PhD focused on the shifting structures of scientific discourse under the influence of changing communication patterns in the 18th century. He is currently Maître de Conférences (Associate Professor) at the Department of Mathematics and History of Sciences of the University Paris 8. His research interests are the history of mathematics and computing in the 18th and 20th century, focusing on computational and information processing practices and on how the everyday work of the mathematician is shaped and slowly changes through time. He recently published on the use of paper tools in mathematics, and on the early history of operating systems.