Prof. Dr. Jim Ritter

Prof. Dr. Jim Ritter (Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu–Paris Rive Gauche, Sorbonne Université, CNRS; Equipe: Histoire des Sciences Mathématiques) is a historian of science. His research focuses on the history of rational practices in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and on the history of general relativity and unified theories.

April 2018

In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Annette Warner (Imhausen)

Funded by The Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt in cooperation with Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften.


The Historian of Science and Physicist Jim Ritter is an emeritus professor of the Université de Paris 8 (Saint-Denis), where he taught at the Département de Mathématiques from 1994 to 2011. Since 2009, he is an Associate Researcher at the Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche, Sorbonne Université, Paris (France). His research focuses on the history of rational practices in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and on the history of general relativity and unified theories.

Research project title:
Algorithmic knowledge in Egypt and Mesopotamia

Research abstract:
This project aims to construct a database for ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian mathematical problem texts, as a tool for the further development of an algorithmic approach to the study of such corpora; an approach initiated by Jim Ritter and further developed in collaboration with Annette Imhausen. The algorithmic approach, which by means of a linguistic and logical analysis of the solution algorithms represented by several hundred Mesopotamian and Egyptian examples, lends itself particularly well to a systematic approach to the full collection of texts, permitting searches for patterning in sequences of operators both within a given corpus and between corpora; hence the interest in a full database with both linguistic and mathematical information.

Selected Publications:
„Science and Reason in Ancient Mesopotamia“, in: Xavier Faivre, Brigitte Lion and Cécile Miches (eds.): Et il y eut un esprit dans l’Homme. Jean Bottéro et la Mésopotamie. Paris: De Boccard (2009): 83-103.
„Geometry as Physics: Oswald Veblen and the Princeton School“, in: Karl-Heinz Schlote and Martina Schneider (eds.), Mathematics meets Physics. Frankfurt a.M.: Harri Deutsch (2011): 145-179.
„Otto Neugebauer and Ancient Egypt“, in: Alexander Jones, Christine Proust and John Steele (eds.), A Mathematician’s Journeys: Otto Neugebauer and Modern Transformations of Ancient Science. New York: Springer (2015): 127-163.
„Translating Babylonian Mathematical Problem Texts“, in: Annette Imhausen und Tanja Pommerening (eds.): Translating Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter (2017): 75-123.

Events:
16 April 2018
Workshop “Procedural knowledge in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia” at the Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"
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24. April 2018
Vortrag im Wissenschaftshistorischen Kolloquium von Prof. Annette Warner und Prof. Moritz Epple
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