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The scope and limitations of algebras: some historical and philosophical considerations

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An important feature of mathematics, both pure and applied, during the nineteenth century was the widening from its common form to a proliferation, where the "objects" studied were not numbers or geometrical magnitudes but operations such as functions and differentiation and integration, abstract ones (as we now call them), linear algebras of vectors, matrices and determinants, and algebras in logic. In this article the author considers several of them, including the contributions of Hermann Grassmann and Benjamin Peirce. A notable feature of these developments was analogising from one algebra to another by adopting some of the same laws, such as associativity, commutativity and distributivity. In the final section we consider the normally secular character of these algebras.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/37216/

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