Catalogue 2012 - 2013

MAMT 542 History of Mathematics (Formerly MAMT 560)


3 cr.

Course Description

Although mathematics can be studied with little or no knowledge of its history, it would be a mistake to believe that history has no place in a mathematics classroom. Understanding how the early Greeks thought about such matters can only enhance the study of geometry. Understanding Book I of Euclid's elements can explain what motivated 19th century mathematicians to consider non-Euclidean geometry. We often ask students to experiment with integers, but rarely tell them that some of the greatest mathematicians became famous because of their work in number theory. Recalling that the origins of probability theory came from a correspondence between Pascal and Fermat regarding a gambling game can enliven the study of probability. This course will examine several of these important contributions from their beginnings and place them in a historical context. The goal of the course is to make mathematics more meaningful to students and teachers because they will have seen mathematics from the moment of discovery.