In this paper I illustrate the evolution of series theory from Leibniz and Newton to the first decades of the eighteenth century. Although mathematicians used convergent series to solve geometric problems, they manipulated series by a mere extension of the rules valid for finite series, without considering convergence as a preliminary condition. Further, they conceived of a power series as a result of a process of the expansion of a finite analytical expression and thought that the link between series and analytical expression was not restricted to the interval of convergence. This gave rise to formal aspects that became progressively more evident while the complexity of the theory increased. Asymptotic and recurrence series emerged as the result of the natural evolution of theory, without the difference between these infinite processes with respect to ordinary series being highlighted. The various aspects of dealing with series can be viewed today as derived from different definitions of the sum. However, mathematicians of that time always considered them as different approaches to a single theory that was based on a unique notion of the sum (even though, later in the eighteenth century, they disagree about what this notion was).
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1080/00033790010028179|
|Codice identificativo ISI:||WOS:000175201500003|
|Codice identificativo Scopus:||2-s2.0-0036541580|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|