This book contains the first complete English translation of
Caspar Wessel's paper from 1797 "On the Analytical Representation
of Direction". The paper has become famous because it gives the
first geometric interpretation of the complex numbers. As the
complete translation will show, it is also remarkable for the
analytical representation of directions (vectors) in space and the
elegant analytic solution of plane and spherical polygons.
Wessel's essay is prefaced by two historical papers on the person
Caspar Wessel and his work. They shed much new light on this first
important Norwegian mathematician and sets his work on
"directions" in its proper historical context. Among other things
it is shown that the idea of using complex numbers to represent
directions in a plane occurred to Wessel as early as 1787 in
connection with his work as a surveyor. Moreover the papers
address the question why Wessel's essay remained without influence.

Conference | Wessel Symposium 1998 |
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Location | The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters |
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Country | Denmark |
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City | Copenhagen |
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Period | 11/08/1998 → 15/08/1998 |
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