Fernando Q. Gouvêa

Carter Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Colby College
Mayflower Hill 5836
Waterville, ME 4901
Office phone number: 207-859-5836
Fax: 207-859-5846
Email: fqgouvea@colby.edu

I work in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Colby College. The links will take you to the department home page and the Colby home page. There’s also an official professional profile page.

In the Fall of 2017 I am teaching Series and Multivariable Calculus MA122 and Abstract Algebra MA333. Clicking on the course names will take you to the web page for the course.

My office hours this semester are:

I teach until 2pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I may be back in my office earlier than 2:15. The “closing times” are sharp, however.

If you need to see me at a different time, please email me to make an appointment. Note that I am almost never on campus on Thursdays.

Stuff for Colby Students

Sometimes I feel preachy. Here are my notes for majors.

If you need a letter of recommendation, please email me. If I agree to write a letter, I may ask you for more information; the more you can provide, the better.

I am the editor of the Mathematical Association of America’s online book review service, MAA Reviews. This is the place to go for mathematics books: what’s out there, is it any good, what’s recommended for library acquisition.

We post new reviews to the main MAA Reviews page roughly once a week. Please visit! Read the reviews, buy the books. Tell all your friends!


I am also the editor of the MAA’s Carus Mathematical Monographs. This was the MAA’s first book series, slow publishing at its best. Volumes 32 and 33 appeared recently: there they are at the right of my set.

Volumes 34 and 35 are in the works…



First Second Expanded Second Expanded Taiwan Slovenia Brazil Netherlands

Math through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others, which I wrote together with Bill Berlinghoff, was published by Oxton House Publishers in mid-2002, with the second edition appeared late in 2014 and (in the "Expanded" version) 2015. The book is an introduction to the history of mathematics with the needs of mathematics teachers chiefly in mind. But it’s not just for teachers; if you would like to begin to learn about the history of mathematics, we think this short and readable book is a good place to start.

The Second Expanded Edition of Math through the Ages came out in 2015. The original book was adopted as a textbook by many teachers and professors, and we got requests for suggestions of problems and other assignments. This edition, co-published by Oxton House and the Mathematical Association of America, aims to satisfy those requests. It’s also prettier and in hardcover. The first edition won the MAA’s Beckenbach Book Prize at the January 2007 Joint Mathematics Meetings.

For the second edition, We added five new historical sketches (on the tangent function in trigonometry, logarithms, conic sections, irrational numbers, and differential calculus). We have updated the rest, in some cases making fairly large changes to reflect current scholarship. We also rewrote many of the problems and the instructor’s guide.

The main differences between the expanded second edition and the just-plain second edition are:

The goal of Math through the Ages is to be both readable and correct, to serve as a “gentle” textbook that you can rely on. Buy copies for all your friends!

Pathways from the Past is an offshoot from Math through the Ages. There are two volumes. Each contains historically-based worksheets that teachers can use to teach mathematics. Each set of worksheets comes with a 64-page teacher’s manual that provides historical background and some guidance on how to use this material in class.

There are two sets of worksheets. Pathways I focuses on Numbers, Numerals, and Arithmetic, while Pathways II is about Algebra. Both sets are available from Oxton House.

Math through the Ages has been translated into four other languages so far; you can see the covers of those editions above.

A Guide to Groups, Rings, and Fields is a survey of graduate algebra, aimed principally at those who want to review the subject. Aside from a couple of broadly introductory chapters, the book looks at groups, group actions, and group representation; rings and their modules; fields, skew fields, and Galois theory. There are no proofs, but I hope readers will find it a useful overview of the material. The link takes you to the main page for the book, where I also keep a list of currently-known errors and misprints.

P-adic Numbers: the corrected third printing of the second edition of my book p-adic Numbers: An Introduction came out in mid-2003. The book is an introduction to p-adic numbers and p-adic analysis aimed at mathematics undergraduates. It tries to be open up the theory to the reader in a friendly and accessible way.

Check here for (a few) errata, notes, and other comments about the book. I’m hoping to produce a third edition in the next couple of years, so let me know if you have found any errors or have suggestions. One of the plans for the third edition is to include a little more on the history of the p-adic numbers, and maybe something on Witt vectors.

Arithmetic of p-adic Modular Forms was my first book, based on my PhD thesis. It is desperately out-of-date, since the field has progressed a lot since I wrote it in the late 1980s. In particular, nowadays one would want to approach the theory from Coleman’s point of view.

I’ve written a lot of other stuff, of course. Here is the full list.

Material available on the web: This page lists some material I’ve written and which is available on the web.

Interests: My research interests are:

As a spectator, rather than as an active player, I also try to keep in touch with lots of other fields in mathematics. Outside mathematics, I am interested in Christian theology, patristics, fountain pens, modern science fiction, literature and poetry, politics, wine, perfume, comic books, and lots of other things.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa ---- fqgouvea@colby.edu