Some mathematicians pay attention to hairdressers more than other mathematicians do. Two modern scholars focused their attention very differently when they wrote about history’s most famous numerico-tonsorial collaboration.
In 1784, mathematicians joined forces with hairdressers on a scale probably never attempted before or since. A century and a half later, Raymond Clare Archibald looked back at it in wonder. Archibald’s monograph called Tables of Trigonometric Functions in Non-Sexagesimal Arguments spanned 12 full pages in the April 1943 issue of the about-as-lively-as-you-might-expect journal Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation….
So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.