Paris, France

Master's

Language: English

Subject area: economy and administration

Qualification: M12

University website: www.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/

Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.

The terms synthesis and analysis are used in mathematics in a more special sense than in logic. In ancient mathematics they had a different meaning from what they now have. The oldest definition of mathematical analysis as opposed to synthesis is that given in Euclid, XIII. 5, which in all probability was framed by Eudoxus: "Analysis is the obtaining of the thing sought by assuming it and so reasoning up to an admitted truth; synthesis is the obtaining of the thing sought by reasoning up to the inference and proof of it."

Florian Cajori, A History of Mathematics (1893). p. 30

Government, in the last analysis, is organized opinion. Where there is little or no public opinion, there is likely to be bad government, which sooner or later becomes autocratic government.

William Lyon Mackenzie King, Message of the Carillon (1927)

A great part of the progress of formal thought... has been due to the invention of what we may call stenophrenic, or short-mind, symbols. These... disengage the mind from the consideration of ponderous and circuitous mechanical operations and economise its energies for the performance of new and unaccomplished tasks of thought. And the advancement of those sciences has been most notable which have made the most extensive use of these... Here mathematics and chemistry stand pre-eminent. The ancient Greeks... even admitting that their powers were more visualistic than analytic, were yet so impeded by their lack of short-mind symbols as to have made scarcely any progress whatever in analysis. Their arithmetic was a species of geometry. They did not possess the sign for zero, and also did not make use of position as an indicator of value. ...The historical calculations of Archimedes, his approximation to the value of π, etc., owing to this lack of appropriate... symbols, entailed enormous and incredible labors, which, if they had been avoided, would... have led to [even] great[er] discoveries.

Thomas J. McCormack, "Joseph Louis Lagrange. Biographical Sketch" (1898) in his translation of Joseph Louis Lagrange, Lectures on Elementary Mathematics (1898); 2nd edition (1901) p. vii.