MA376 — History of Mathematics

This is the course web page for my History of Mathematics (MA376) course, Spring 2015. Assignments and other information will appear here. Bookmark it and check it regularly!

On the left below is a schedule of what to read for which class. For each date, I give what you should have read before class that day.

On the right are your various writing assignments; these are basically copies of what you will receive in class, posted here as they get written. Once again, the dates next to each assignment show when the assignment is due.

Schedule of Readings Assignments
  • February 6: Stedall, chapters 1 and 2.
  • February 9: Stedall, chapter 3.
  • February 11: Stedall, chapter 4.
  • February 13: Stedall, chapter 5.
  • February 16: Stedall, chapters 6 and 7.
  • February 18: Ancient mathematics except for Greek; MttA, pages 5–15.
  • February 20: Numeration and arithmetic; MttA, Sketches 1–4.
  • February 23: Greek mathematics; MttA pages 15–25, sketches 12, 14, 28.
  • February 25: More Greek mathematics; read the first three chapters of From Alexandria, through Baghdad. These are surveys (by Berggren, Saito, and Sidoli) of recent research on Greek mathematics.
  • February 27: A first look at Euclid; read the front matter of your copy of the Elements: prefaces, about Euclid and about Heath, terminology. Then read the first two pages of the Elements: definitions, postulates, common notions.
  • March 2: Medieval mathematics; MttA, pages 24–34.
  • March 4: Algebra and equations; MttA, Sketches 8–11.
  • March 6: Early modern mathematics; MttA, pages 35–48.
  • March 9: New geometries; MttA, Sketches 16, 20, 19.
  • March 11: To modern times; MttA, pages 48–62.
  • March 13: Euclid, Book I, propositions 1–26.
  • March 16: Euclid, Book I, propositions 27–48.
  • March 18: Euclid, Book II.
  • March 20: no class; reading assignment is Euclid, Books III (easy) and V (hard).
  • March 30: Euclid Book V.
  • April 1: Euclid, Book VI, especially Propositions 1, 11–13.
  • April 3: Euclid, Book XII, propositions 1 and 2.
  • April 6: Archimedes on the area of a parabolic section (online).
  • April 8: MttA, sketch 28, on Conic Sections.
  • April 10: no reading assignment; we'll be talking about the parallel postulate in Greek and Islamic geometry.
  • April 13: read about Matteo Ricci and Euclid's Elements: wikipedia, MacTutor, Google Books. There are also books about this. If you are curious, look at The Emperor's New Mathematics or this one:
    	      SCIENCE QA31 .E8753 1998 : Engelfriet, Peter M     
          Euclid in China : the genesis of the first Chinese translation of
          Euclid's Elements, books I-VI
    Unrelated to China, but still worth a look: the beginning of Spinoza's Ethics.
  • April 15: Practical Geometry; for example look at Fibonacci's De Practica Geometrie.
  • April 17: Algebraic geometry: Descartes, Fermat, and followers.
  • April 20: Projective geometry: MttA, sketch 20.
  • April 22: Back to the parallel postulate: Worlds out of Nothing, chapters seven and eight.
  • April 24: Non-Euclidean geometry: Worlds out of Nothing, chapters nine and ten.
  • April 27
  • April 29
  • May 1

History of Mathematics Links

There's always the internet, of course. In general, the central word on anything you find online is be very suspicious. For example, consider this example.

But of course there is a lot of good information out there. Here's a few examples.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa ----