On the correctness of problem solving in ancient mathematical procedure texts

Mario Bacelar Valente


It has been argued in relation to Old Babylonian mathematical procedure texts that their validity or correctness is self-evident. One “sees” that the procedure is correct without it having, or being accompanied by, any explicit arguments for the correctness of the procedure. Even when agreeing with this view, one might still ask about how is the correctness of a procedure articulated? In this work, we present an articulation of the correctness of ancient Egyptian and Old Babylonian mathematical procedure texts – mathematical texts presenting the solution of problems. We endeavor to make explicit and explain how and why the procedures are reliable over and above the fact that their correctness is intuitive.


mathematical problems; problem solving; mathematical procedure; correctness

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22370/rhv2020iss16pp169-189

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