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There are a series of articles transcribed by Dr. David R. Wilkins (dwilkins@maths.tcd.ie) School of Mathematics Trinity College, Dublin at http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/

They all start with a line:

From `A Short Account of the History of Mathematics' (4th edition, 1908) by W. W. Rouse Ball.

Are they fair game to grab as source material for our wikipedia? I know we are scarfing stuff from the 1911 encyclopedia, this is from 1908, so it should be under the same lack of restrictions....


.... discussion about sending an email, email is written, time elapses ...
Dr Wilkins just responeded. (10-2-01) Here's the reply
Dear Sirs,

My apologies for delaying overlong on the response to your e-mails
regarding Rouse Ball's History of Mathematics.  My excuse is that
they were sent to me in August, at a time when I was away from Dublin
for a few months, and I never got round to the task of dealing fully
with over a thousand e-mails that awaited me on my return.

In reply to your specific query:

   Walter William Rouse Ball lived from 14 Aug 1850 to 4 April 1925.

You will find these dates on the MacTutor History of Mathematics website,
specifically at




   http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Ball

You will note that Rouse Ball has been dead for over 70 years, and therefore
his works would therefore have entered the public domain under EU copyright
law and international copyright conventions.

I have not recently made the effort to double-check these dates, through
you should be able to find an entry for Rouse Ball in some dictionary of
scientific biography.

I do recall, though, that, when the duration of copyright was lengthened
from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author, I did do my own check
and found that Rouse Ball had been dead for just over 70 years; this
would have been around 1995/6.

The copy I have used has the following information on its title page:

      A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS
      BY W. W. ROUSE BALL
      FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

      FOURTH EDITION

      MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
      ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON
      1908

and, over the page

    First Edition 1888.
    Second Edition 1893.
    Third Edition 1901.
    Fourth Edition 1908.

Of course, with a book of this age, any copyright in the `typographical
arrangement' under British and Irish copyright law would have lapsed
long ago: such copyright lasts for at most 50 years (under the most
recent Irish legislation), and in any case such copyright is only
violated by `reprographic' copies, made for example with a photocopying
machine, or photographically.

If you are intending to quote, I seriously advise you to consult a
printed text, to ensure accuracy of the quote.  You might note that
the edition that I have used has also been photographically reproduced
by Dover Publications.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. David Wilkins,
School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.
sounds good, no? --E


These are great! I'll kick things off by putting a tracking index here:

Mathematicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from A Short Account of the History of Mathematics by W. W. Rouse Ball (4th Edition, 1908).

see http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/RBallIndex



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