An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Shuli jingyun 數理精蘊

Oct 7, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

The book (Yuzhi) Shuli jingyun (御製)數理精蘊 is part of a collection called (Qinding) Lüli yuanyuan (御定)律曆淵源 "(Imperially endorsed) Origins and foundations of musical tuning, calculation, and the calendar". It consists of three treatises on astronomy, mathematics, and music that assemble Chinese and Western knowledge in these three fields and was compiled on imperial order during the Kangxi reign-period 康熙 (1662-1722) under the supervision of Prince Yūnlu (Ch. Yunlu 允禄, 1695-1767). The main compilers were He Guozong 何國宗 (d. 1767) and Mei Gucheng 梅谷成.

The emperor aimed to have this book compiled was that he had become aware that the Jesuit missionaries who worked as astronomers at the imperial court brought with them knowledge that covered issued which Chinese scientists had never asked about. The concrete occasion was that the Directorate of Astronomy (qintianjian 欽天監) had made an error in the calculation of the solar term Xiazhi 夏至 (see calendar). The Kangxi Emperor therefore ordered the Director of Astronomy to make use of Western calculation methods that "did not fail in any salient point" (da dun bu wu 大端不誤).

The book was begun in 1713 and finished in 1722, and was printed by the imperial printing shop in 1724. The whole collection has a length fo 100 juan and consists of the parts Lixiang kaocheng 曆象考成 (42 juan), Lülü zhengyi 律呂正義 (5 juan), and Shuli jingyun 數理精蘊 (53 juan).

The Shuli jingyun consists of two parts (bian 編) and an appendix with tables with a length of 8 juan. The first part represents a theoretical basis and explains the foundations of Chinese mathematical conceptions as found in the apocryphal texts on the Hetu 河圖 and Luoshu 洛書 and the early classic Zhoubi suanjing. It explains the basics of geometry and of arithmetics.

The second part of the book consists of five chapters dealing with (shou 首 "initials", xian 綫 "lines", mian 面 "areas", ti 體 "volumes" and mo 末 "finals"). The Shuli jingyun is a compendium on Chinese and Western mathematics and gives insight into the differences between Chinese and European concepts of mathematics, as can be seen in the book Dushushu 對數術 by Gu Guanguang 顧觀光 (1799-1862) and its comparison with Henry Briggs' (1561-1630) writings.

Fan Jingzhong 范景中 (1999). "Tonghuozi taoyinben Yuzhi shuli jingyun 銅活字套印本《御制數理精蘊》", Gugong Bowuyuan yuankan 故宮博物院院刊, 1999 (5).
Han Qi 韓琦 (1992). "Shuli jingyun dui shuzao biaofa yu Dai Xu de er xiang kaishi yanjiu 《數理精蘊》對數造表法與戴煦的二項展開式研究", Ziran kexue shi yanjiu 自然科學史研究, 1992 (7).
Li Zhaohua 李兆華 (1983). "Guanyu Shuli jingyun de ruogan wenti 關于《數理精蘊》的若干問題", Neimenggu Shida xuebao (Ziran kexue ban) 内蒙古師大學報(自然科學版), 1983 (7).
Liu Dun 劉鈍 (1991). "Shuli jingyun zhong Jihe yuanben de diben wenti 《數理精蘊》中《几何原本》的底本問題", Zhongguo keji shiliao 中國科技史料, 1991 (6).
Mo De 莫德 (1991). "Jihe yuanben youguan wenti yanjiu (5). Shuli jingyun de Jihe yuanben zhi yanjiu 《几何原本》有關問題研究(五)——《數理精蘊》中的几何原本之研究", Neimenggu Shida xuebao (Ziran kexue Hanwen ban) 内蒙古師大學報(自然科學漢文版), 1991 (7).
Shi Xuanyuan 施宣圓 et al., ed. (1987). Zhongguo wenhua cidian 中國文化辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai Shehui Kexue Yuan chubanshe 527.
Xiao Yunhong 肖運鴻 (2012). "Shuli jingyun zhong de ganggan lixue zhishi 《數理精蘊》中的杠杆力學知識", Guangxi Minzu Daxue xuebao (Ziran kexue ban) 廣西民族大學學報(自然科學版), 2012 (9).
Zhang Sheng 張升, Luo Jianjin 羅見今 (2010). "Buligesi [Henry Briggs] zhi zhenshu zichengfa yu Shuli jingyun xiangying neirong zhi bijiao 布里格斯之真數自乘法與《數理精蘊》相應内容之比較", Neimenggu Shifan Daxue xuebao (Ziran kexue Hanwen ban) 内蒙古師範大學學報(自然科學漢文版), 2010 (11).
Zhang Sheng 張升, Yin Zhiling 尹志凌 (2009). "Shuli jingyun zhong dui shuzaobiao de san zhong suanfa bijiao 《數理精蘊》中對數造表的三種算法比較", Neimenggu Shifan Daxue xuebao (Ziran kexue Hanwen ban) 内蒙古師範大學學報(自然科學漢文版), 2009 (9).