MA376 — History of Mathematics

This is the course web page for my History of Mathematics (MA376) course, Spring 2017. 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. Once again, the dates next to each assignment show when the assignment is due.

Schedule of Readings Assignments
 
  • February 3: Stedall, chapters 1 and 2.
  • February 6: Stedall, chapter 3.
  • February 8: Stedall, chapter 4.
  • February 10: Stedall, chapter 5.
  • February 13: Stedall, chapters 6 and 7.
  • February 15: How do we divide history into periods?
  • February 17: Pre-Greek mathematics: MttA, pages 5–15 and Sketches 1, 3, 4.
  • February 20: Greek mathematics: MttA, pages 15–25
  • February 22: More Greek mathematics: Sketches 12, 14, 28, 29.
  • February 24: Quick glance at China and India: MttA pages 25–29.
  • February 27: Mathematics in Medieval Islam: MttA, pages 29–33, sketches 9 and 10.
  • March 1: Medieval and Renaissance Europe: MttA, pages 33–37, sketches 8, 11, 18, 26.
  • March 3: Early Modern Europe: MttA, pages 37–43, sketches 16, 17, 27.
  • March 6: Calculus: MttA, pages 43–48, sketch 30.
  • March 8: Euler and the 18th century: read Euler and the Bernoullis and one of the How Euler Did It essays (choose at random!).
  • March 10: Early 19th century mathematics: try to find biographical information online for Gauss, Abel, or Galois.
  • March 13: Rigor? MttA pages 48–53.
  • March 15: The “modern” turn: MttA pages 54–62.
  • March 17: What is algebra? MttA, sketches 8–11, 16, 17.
  • March 20–24: Spring Break
  • March 27: Special class session with Michael Barany.
  • March 29: Sesiano, chapter 1.
  • March 31: Sesiano, chapter 1, focus on Examples 1 and 4.
  • April 3: Euclid, book II; the link takes you to a page with the definitions and theorems, with links to the proofs. You should also read (critically!) the “Guide to Book II”.
  • April 5: Sesiano, sections 2.1 and 2.2.
  • April 7: Sesiano, section 2.3.
  • April 10: Still section 2.3.
  • April 12: Take a look at the first section of Al-Khwarizmi’s Algebra. This is the 19th century translation by Frederic Rosen.
  • April 14: Sesiano, 3.1–3.3.
  • April 17: I covered stuff in Sesiano 3.3; note that the cubic problem from Archimedes that I failed to remember properly is discussed on pages 82–83.
  • April 19: Sesiano, chapter 4.
  • April 21: more on chapter 4.
  • April 24: Sesiano, chapter 5.
  • April 26: more on chapter 5.
  • April 28: We'll talk about what happened after Cardano.

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 are a few examples.


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