Recent studies questioning the view of technology as a mere application of scientific discoveries have concentrated on the comparison between technological knowledge and the natural sciences. But what about mathematics, which has been historically considered as essential (at least as a desideratum) for the development of a systematic approach to technical problems? Several recent historical studies have analyzed the discussions on the role of mathematics in the period of “invention” of the modern engineer and the creation of a new form of “technological rationality” between the 18th and the early 19th centuries; the place of mathematics in the École Polytechnique; and many aspects of the interaction between mathematical physics or geometry and technological knowledge. The relationship of mathematics to engineering knowledge was viewed as a crucial issue at the turn of the 19th century, as is shown by the discussions that took place in that period on the mathematical training of engineers, which involved the relationship between mathematicians and engineers both teaching in technical education institutes. The background to this debate was the professionalization of mathematics – including the creation of an institutional framework and a great development of abstract, pure mathematical research – and the emergence of academic research in the engineering sciences. A renewal of the classical relationship between technology and mathematics lies behind the definition of the modern concept of engineering system. This essays regard the emergence of planning and control mathematical techniques typical of modern engineering systems, considering this issue in the context of the history of the applications of mathematics to the non physical sciences, showing how the early ideas concerning the management of operations and production using quantitative techniques are related to the idea of developing a mathématique sociale. In fact, 19th century contributions to mathematical economics by engineers were often developed starting from problems originating in the technological sphere and from the activities and responsibilities of engineers. The reasons for the rejection of the use of mathematics in economics worked also as far as the introduction of mathematics in management and decision-making was concerned: the dominant opinion in the century was that the freedom of human beings could not be reduced to mathematical equations. -

MILLAN GASCA, A.M. (2004). Organization and mathematics: a look into the prehistory of industrial engineering. In Technological concepts and mathematical models in the evolution of modern engineering systems: Controlling, Managing, Organizing (pp. 21-50). Basel Boston Berlin : Birkhäuser.

### Organization and mathematics: a look into the prehistory of industrial engineering

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*MILLAN GASCA, Ana Maria*

##### 2004-01-01

#### Abstract

Recent studies questioning the view of technology as a mere application of scientific discoveries have concentrated on the comparison between technological knowledge and the natural sciences. But what about mathematics, which has been historically considered as essential (at least as a desideratum) for the development of a systematic approach to technical problems? Several recent historical studies have analyzed the discussions on the role of mathematics in the period of “invention” of the modern engineer and the creation of a new form of “technological rationality” between the 18th and the early 19th centuries; the place of mathematics in the École Polytechnique; and many aspects of the interaction between mathematical physics or geometry and technological knowledge. The relationship of mathematics to engineering knowledge was viewed as a crucial issue at the turn of the 19th century, as is shown by the discussions that took place in that period on the mathematical training of engineers, which involved the relationship between mathematicians and engineers both teaching in technical education institutes. The background to this debate was the professionalization of mathematics – including the creation of an institutional framework and a great development of abstract, pure mathematical research – and the emergence of academic research in the engineering sciences. A renewal of the classical relationship between technology and mathematics lies behind the definition of the modern concept of engineering system. This essays regard the emergence of planning and control mathematical techniques typical of modern engineering systems, considering this issue in the context of the history of the applications of mathematics to the non physical sciences, showing how the early ideas concerning the management of operations and production using quantitative techniques are related to the idea of developing a mathématique sociale. In fact, 19th century contributions to mathematical economics by engineers were often developed starting from problems originating in the technological sphere and from the activities and responsibilities of engineers. The reasons for the rejection of the use of mathematics in economics worked also as far as the introduction of mathematics in management and decision-making was concerned: the dominant opinion in the century was that the freedom of human beings could not be reduced to mathematical equations. -I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.