I'm researching Liu Hui who lived circa 220 AD to 260 AD. He independently solved many challenging mathematical problems, and was an amazing mathematician previously unknown to me. I came across this line from the Wikipedia page about him:

"Although translated into English long beforehand, Liu's work was translated into French by Guo Shuchun, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who began in 1985 and took twenty years to complete his translation."

I'm curious from a standpoint of when would his works definitively begin influencing Western math and science?

I can find little on the dates of an original translation; in fact, the only mention of translation dates I found at all was on the Wikipedia page I referenced.

  • 1
    I think this question IS on-topic here. However, it really is totally in the wheelhouse of the History of Science and Math site, so its possible it would do better there.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


I assume the translation in question is The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art, which was indeed translated into French by Guo Shuchun and published in 2005.

In fact, the first full English translation of The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art wasn't published in English until 1999, although abridged translations were published much earlier.

The earliest abridged translation that I've been able to locate is Arithmetic in Nine Sections by the Swiss-American mathematical historian, Florian Cajori, which was published in 1893. The (very) abridged material appears as a chapter in his History of Mathematics.

(A more recent abridged translation was presented in Jiu zhang suanshu (nine chapters on the mathematical art): An overview by Lam Lay Yong, published in 1994.)

If you are researching Liu Hui, there is a fascinating paper titled Liu Hui and the First Golden Age of Chinese Mathematics, by Philip D. Straffin, Jr. which was published in Mathematics Magazine in 1998 (Vol. 71, No. 3. (June 1998), pp 163-181) which might be of interest to you.


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