The history of Mathematics

This course will focus on the historical and cultural context of mathematical ideas as well as examining their shifting technical content. Examples drawn from geometry, algebra and analysis will be looked at from the point of view of various cultures and different historical periods with the aim of observing the physical, social and philosophical influences that shaped the resulting mathematics.

Students will be expected to write two papers on topics agreed to by the instructor, and to participate in class discussions of the material being presented.

The final mark will be based on these two papers (60%), and on the class discussions (40%).

There will be no text for the course, but an extensive reference list will be distributed at the beginning of the course, which will include these items:

Marcia Ascher, Ethnomatics (Cole, 1991).
C. Boyer, The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development (Dover, 1959).
M. P. Closs, Native American Mathematics (Univ. of Texas, 1986).
J. N. Crossley, The Emergence of Numbers (World Scientific, 1987).
C. H. Edwards, The Historical Development of the Calculus (Springer, 1980).
J. C. Grabiner, The Origins of Cauchy's Rigorous Calculus (M.I.T. Press, 1981).
M. Kline, Mathematical Thought From Ancient to Modern Times (Oxford, 1972).
W. R. Knorr, The Evoluation of the Euclidean Elements (Reidel, 1975).
Li, Yun, and Du, Shiran, Chinese Mathematics (Oxford, 1987).
O. Neuqebauer, Astronomy and History, Selected Essays (Springer, 1983).
J. Stillwell, Mathematics and its History (Springer, 1989).