Math 300 Great Moments in Mathematics

Spring 2002

Check out daily activities at the course calendar.  You  will find reading assignments, homework exercises, paper topics, and important due dates.  This calendar may change often, so return to it regularly throughout the semester.
 Course Content: This course will survey the early history of mathematics, from the ancient world into the 17th century. 
Time & Place: Alter 314, TR 4:00 - 5:15pm
Instructor: Daniel E. Otero
Office Hours: Hinkle 104, MW 3:00 - 4:00, TR 1:30 - 2:30, or by appointment
Phone: 745-2012 (voicemail available)
Textbook: A History of Mathematics: an introduction, by Victor J. Katz. Second Edition. Addison Wesley.
Grading: A standard scale (A = 90%, B = 80%, C = 70%, D = 60%) based on a total 500 pts:
Homeworks = 100 pts
Quizzes = 100 pts
Papers (2 @ 50pts) = 100 pts
Midterm Exam (Thu 28 Feb) = 100 pts
Final Exam (Tue 7 May 4:00pm) = 100 pts

Homework assignments will be assigned and collected regularly. A short 10-point quiz on the week's reading assignment will be administered each Tuesday at the beginning of class. Two substantial research papers are due, one due February 21, the other April 18. The final exam will be cumulative, but will emphasize material from the second half of the semester.

Absences: Attendance and participation in class is expected. No extra credit work will be assigned. If you foresee that you will not be able to attend a class, you must make arrangements with me beforehand to schedule a time to make up any missing work. Even a phone message before class time is sufficient. No arrangements will be made otherwise.

More Information of Interest:

Thanks to Richard Pulskamp for many of the links below.

On the World Wide Web:

There are several sites which are particularly valuable to students in this course. Be warned that care must be exercised when using information you have obtained from the Web. Consider sources. Is the site based at a trustworthy location such as a university or government department? Are the documents written by scholars and experts, or by dilettantes and cranks? Frequently it is too easy to follow references given at a website than to use the documents without review.

For an illustration of the how the various branches of mathematics relate to one another, look at the Mathematical Atlas.

At the University of St. Andrews in Aberdeen, Scotland, is is the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. This site contains biographies and images of most of
the important mathmaticians throughout history as well as several other features. Generally, these have been drawn from the DSB, but some errors still persist. As with any other site on the Web, it should be used with caution. For example, look at the entry for Euclid. Who is the man in the engraving? Is it really Euclid?

For the study of Euclid, I recommend David Joyce's site at Clark University. He has a general history of mathematics and also a marvelous online version of the Elements.

An Archimedes page is maintained by Chris Rorres at Drexel University.

Len Berggren at Simon Fraser University has special emphasis on non-European mathematics. What is there is interesting, but this site has not been modified in quite a while.

At Trinity University, Dublin, you will find information on mathematicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries taken from W.W. Rouse Ball's Short
Account of the History of Mathematics.

Joseph MacDonnell of Fairfield University (another Jesuit institution) maintains a site on Jesuit Geometers.

If you are interested in the history of statistics, there is a site which has some original sources maintained by the department of mathematics at University of York in England.

For information on African Mathematics visit the African Mathematical Union.

There is  much more. A starting point for exploration may be found at the British Society for the History of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, England.  You may also want to follow the links available at my homepage under History of Mathematics.

For further reading:

A good place to start is the basic library list on the history of mathematics prepared by the Mathematical Association of America. Here you will find a bibliography of works organized into broad categories.

Another list on the history of special topics was prepared by Victor Katz, the author of our textbook.

The best source of biography is the Dictionary of Scientific Biography (DSB). This can be found in the reference section of MacDonald Library.