MATH 401 History of Mathematics

Fall, 1998 T 3:00-4:50 Th. 3:00 -3:50 P.M. ROOM: SH 128

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Last updated: 8/25/98   Under construction. The following description is still being developed.

Fall, 1998 COURSE INFORMATION (tentative)                                        Martin Flashman
MATH 401: History of Mathematics                                   TUESDAY 3-4:50 & THURSDAY : 3:00 - 3:50
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Catalog Description: Historical developments of key mathematical ideas and milestones: from antiquity to evolution of the calculus. Research techniques introduced. Prerequisite: lower division calculus or IC.

TEXTS: A History of Mathematics, 2nd edition, by Victor J. Katz (Harper Collins,1998).
The Origins of the Infinitesmal Calculus, by Margaret E. Baron (Dover, 1969).
Classics of Mathematics, edited by Ron Calinger (Prentice Hall, 1995).

SCOPE: This course will cover some of the key developments in the history of mathematics up to the work of Newton and Leibniz and their contemporaries on calculus. In this we will consider various threads related to notation for numbers, algebra, geometry, and the nature and use of the infinite. Much of the content is relevant to the mathematics currently taught in high schools (though  current treatments are based on concepts developed by mathematicians who worked after the periods in history we will study).

Lectures will organize the topics to present materials not covered in the texts as well as those treated in the texts.  Supplementary readings and materials will be supplied as appropriate. Summaries of lectures may be available through the course webpage.

TECHNOLOGY: We may use the computer at various stages of this course to illustrate and investigate some of the mathematics from a more modern perspective. We will also be making use of materials found through the world wide web.

ASSIGNMENTS: There will not be any formal examinations.

Reading Assignment: Each student will be expected to read a short article / note / or web page about the history of mathematics and make brief written summaries/reports of these to be passed on Tuesdays, beginning September 1. [These will be graded Honors(5)/Cr(3)/NCr(0). Be sure to include an appropriate citation.]

Weekly assignments will be due on Thursdays. (Accepted one day tardy at most!)
Some problems may be assigned but not numerically graded.

Cooperative Assignment: Teams will be formed to work cooperatively on making a presentation on Tuesday, November 3rd on a notation for numbers other than the current decimal system.

FINAL ASSESSMENT / TERM PAPER: Each student will be expected to write a history of mathematics (term) paper based on a "primary" source. Guidelines and advice will be distributed separately.

GRADES:  Grades will be determined primarily **based on the points you receive from your participation in the various course activities.

Reading Assignments   60 points
Weekly Assignments 140 points
Coop Assignment   50 points
Term paper 100 points
TOTAL 350 points

** Active class participation will be considered in deciding individual grades after a general grade range has been assigned.

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