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Leonhardi Euleri Opera Omnia: A Centenary Project and Its Value for the History of Science

Leonhardi Euleri Opera Omnia: A Centenary Project and Its Value for the History of Science

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by the History & Philosophy of Science Section and the International Commission on History of Mathematics, to mark the tricentennial of Euler's birth in 1707.


Speaker: Andreas Kleinert, PhD, Smith College, Northampton, MA; University of Halle, Germany; and newly appointed Editor of Euler's papers and correspondence, published under the joint auspices of the St. Petersburg and Swiss Academies of Science.

Andreas Kleinert, Ph.D.
"Leonhardi Euleri opera omnia: A centenary project and its value for the history of science"

After some unsuccessful attempts in the 19th century, the project of publishing the Complete Works of Leonhard Euler in a modern scholarly edition began in 1907, on the occasion of the bicentenary of Euler's birth. The first volume was published in 1911. By 2006, 70 volumes of Euler's printed works have been published, and the complete edition of 72 volumes, divided into three series, will hopefully be finished in 2008.

The first part of the lecture will recount the history of this edition — "its origins, basic editing principles, and how it survived a variety of ups and downs through periods of extreme monetary inflation and depression, two world wars and the cold war, including the loss of its funds due to a bank failure and changes between different publishers.

The second part of the lecture will deal with the publication of Euler's letters and manuscripts that started in 1967, as the fourth series of Euler's Opera omnia. This series is still in progress, and the date of its termination is unpredictable.

Whereas the original purpose of the Opera omnia was to make Euler's work easily accessible to mathematicians, the interest in this edition has more and more shifted from mathematics to the history of science. In the third part of the lecture, some examples will be given about what we can learn from the Euler edition about science generally in the eighteenth century.