570 - History of Mathematics
Wednesday, January 18: Read Denise Schmandt-Besserat's article, "The Earliest Precursor of Writing" and write a short paragraph responding to it.
Friday, January 20: (recommended) Read Burton pg. 20-27.
Monday, January 23: (recommended) Read Burton pg. 63-78.
Wednesday, January 25: Read the excerpt "Three Babylonian Mathematical Texts" from Aaboe Asger's Episodes from the Early History of Mathematics.
Choose one word to describe the material and write a paragraph justifying your choice.
Friday, January 27: Homework #1 due.
Recommended reading: YBC 6967 in H°yrup's Lengths, Widths, Surfaces (in packet).
Monday, January 30: From the packet, read Exercise 3.4 from Cooke's The History of Mathematics and BM 85196 #9 from H°yrup's Lengths, Widths, Surfaces. (These are two translations of the same Babylonian problem and solution.) Write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the two translations.
Wednesday, February 1: (recommended) Read chapter 3 of Burton (in particular, sections 1-3).
Friday, February 3: Homework #2 due.
Monday, February 6: Read the excerpt (found in the packet) of Plato's Meno. Write a paragraph describing the role that geometry plays in the dialogue between Socrates and Meno.
Wednesday, February 8: Read the excerpt from Euclid's Elements, Book I. Choose one word to describe or summarize the reading and write a paragraph
explaining your choice.
Friday, February 10: Homework #3 due.
Monday, February 13: Read the excerpt from Euclid's Elements, Book II. Propositions 4 and 5 are geometric proofs of two familiar algebraic identities. In a
paragraph, describe how Euclid proves them.
Wednesday, February 15: Read the excerpt from Euclid's Elements, Book IX. Write a paragraph describing the kinds of results that Euclid is proving and the
techniques he uses.
Recommended reading: Burton chapter 4 (in particular, sections 1-3).
Friday, February 17: Concept paper #1 due. ***Note change of due date***
Monday, February 20: Homework #4 due.
Wednesday, February 22: Read the excerpt from Archimedes' On the Equilibrium of Planes. Choose one word to describe or summarize the reading
and write a paragraph justifying your choice.
Friday, February 24: Read the excerpt from Archimedes' On Floating Bodies. Write a paragraph describing something you found interesting or surprising
from the reading.
Monday, February 27: Homework #5 due.
Wednesday, March 1: Read the excerpt in the packet from Diophantus' Arithmetica. It is a fairly long reading, so I would like you to choose 5 different
problems to read thoroughly. (You should still read through the statements of all the problems.) Write a paragraph discussing what
kinds of problems they are and the techniques used to solve them.
Friday, March 3: Read the excerpt (found in the new packet) from Augustine's Christian Instruction, Book II. Write a paragraph describing the role that
role that logical reasoning and mathematics should play in the Christian world.
Monday, March 6: Read the excerpt in the packet from Kūshyār Ibn Labbān's Principles of Hindu Reckoning. Write a paragraph describing one of the
methods used for multiplication and comparing it to present-day methods.
Wednesday, March 8: Homework #6 due. (Note that the last problem has a diagram that does not appear on the pdf file.)
Friday, March 10: Research paper topics due.
Monday, March 13: Concept paper #2 due.
Sample first concept paper
Friday, March 17: Midterm exam.
Wednesday, March 29: Read the excerpts in the packet from Leonardo of Pisa's Liber Abaci. Write a paragraph describing the techniques that he uses.
Friday, March 31: Read the Treviso Arithmetic. Choose one of the forms of "chessboard multiplication" and explain why it works.
Monday, April 3: Homework #7 due.
Wednesday, April 5: Concept paper #3 due.
Friday, April 7: Read the excerpts from Cardano's Ars Magna found in the course packet. Choose one word to describe or summarize the reading and write a paragraph justifying your choice.
Monday, April 10: Read the article by Pengelley and Richman (passed out in class on Wednesday). Write a paragraph describing the main point of the article.
Wednesday, April 12: Research paper first draft due.
Friday, April 14: Read the excerpt from Napier's The Construction of the Wonderful Canon of Logarithms. Write a paragraph describing two new ideas that appear in this work.
Wednesday, April 19: Read the excerpts from Books II and III of Descartes' Geometrie. Write a paragraph explaining why these "algebraic" ideas might occur in a work on geometry.
Friday, April 21: Read the excerpt from Wallis' Arithmetic of Infinitesimals. Write a paragraph explaining how Wallis is computing areas.
Monday, April 24: Concept Paper #4 due.
Friday, April 28: Homework #8 due.
Monday, May 1: Research paper due. (Please send me an electronic copy so that I can post it online.)
Friday, May 5: Homework #9 due.
Friday, May 12: Final exam at 11:50 am.
Practice exam (Ignore the question on Egyptian fractions, as we did not discuss this.)
Practice exam solutions
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Last updated: 4 May 2006