October 24-31, 2000

From October 24 until 31 2000, Jacqueline A. Stedall will visit the Netherlands and give three lectures. The abstracts and the programme of the talks one may find below.

Tuesday October 24, Groningen University staff colloquium

Lecture: ``Procrastination, incomprehension, misjudgment''

Wednesday October 25, Nijmegen University staff colloquium

Lecture: ``Moving the alps''.

Friday October 27, Amsterdam Free University in alliance with CWI and GMFW

Lecture: ``Wallis versus Vossius''. This talk will be kept within the special history colloquium at the CWI.

When John Wallis, professor of geometry at Oxford, wrote

Thomas Harriot was the finest English mathematician before Newton. He developed far-reaching insights into the structure of polynomial equations, but unfortunately he could not be persuaded to publish his work in his lifetime. After his death his mathematics passed into the hands of editors who failed to do it justice, and the original papers were then lost. John Wallis in 1685 tried to restore Harriot's reputation but in such a xenophobic way that his account was never taken seriously. A careful reading of Wallis's account reveals that he understood Harriot's algebra better than almost anyone but that, influenced by John Pell, he kept his real sources secret. In doing so he did lasting damage to both his own reputation and Harriot's.

John Pell taught mathematics in Amsterdam and Breda from 1642 to 1649. After his return to England he was highly regarded as a mathematician but published little to justify his reputation, and is perhaps the most enigmatic and under-researched of all the seventeenth-century English mathematicians. Recent examination of his papers has revealed that some of his work did find its way into print in John Wallis's