History of Mathematics
Instructor: Dr. Mike Hall
Office: CSM 110
Office Hours: 10:00-11:00 MWF and 2:00-3:00 MW; also by appointment
Textbook: The History of Mathematics: An Introduction, by David M. Burton.
Prerequisite: Calculus II
Attendance Policy: Attendance is MANDATORY and will be taken each day.
Course Description: Study the origin and development of modern mathematical concepts and the many distinguished
mathematicians behind the mathematical ideas. Topics include systems of numeration, algebra, geometry-
Euclidean and non-Euclidean, calculus, and the foundation of the real number system.
Course Objectives: -To perform calculations using ancient numeration systems
-To solve problems contained in ancient documents using mathematical methods of the day.
-To examine the transition to theoretical mathematics
-To research the lives and accomplishments of distinguished mathematicians using resources in the library
and on the internet
-To recognize the diversity in our mathematical ancestry, gender, education, and culture
-To recognize mathematics as a body of knowledge that continues to flourish
Home/Class Work: Homework will be assigned each class period and should be completed prior to the next class. The
homework will occasionally be taken up for a grade. Some activities will be completed in class for a grade.
You must be present the day of the activity to receive credit. Late homework assignments will not be
accepted. In addition, all work must be neat, organized and your own. Copied assignments and
assignments with no work will receive no credit.
Tests: Two tests (20% each) will be given throughout the semester. The questions on the tests will be similar in
format to homework problems and examples covered in class. In addition, a mandatory comprehensive
final exam (25%) will be given at the scheduled time.
Presentation: Within the first two weeks of class, each student will select a topic from a list of mathematicians (first
come-first serve). Presentations will begin during the eighth week of the semester on a date determined
solely by the chronology of the mathematician chosen. See handout for guidelines.
Make-up Policy: NO make-up tests will be given. If you miss a test for any reason a grade of “0” will be given. The final
exam percentage will be used to replace a missed test. The final exam will only replace one test, for this
reason DO NOT miss more than one test.
If you must miss a test for a scheduled ASU function, notify me in advance and arrangements can be made
to take a test early, but not late.
Grades: Home/Class Work 15%
2 tests (100 pts each) 20% each
Final Exam 25%
F Below 60%
Class Courtesy: I expect you to be respectful of myself and others. This includes, but is not limited to, being on time for
class, sharpening your pencil before class, and giving your undivided attention to class.
Cheating is unacceptable and will not go unpunished. If I catch you cheating you will receive an F.
No food or drinks are allowed in the classroom
Please turn all cell phones and pagers off during class.
Additional Info: Students who require academic adjustments in the classroom due to a disability must first register with
ASU Disability Services. Following registration and within the first two weeks of class, please contact me
to discuss appropriate accommodations. Appropriate arrangements can be made to ensure equal access to
Note: This is a general policy statement and is subject to change by the instructor.
Week 1: Ancient Number Systems
Week 2: Babylonian Mathematics
Solve problems contained in Plimpton 322, using Babylonian techniques
Week 3: Egyptian Arithmetic and Geometry
Solve problems contained in the Rhind Papyrus using Egyptian techniques
Week 4: The beginning of Greek mathematics: Thales and Pythagoras
Week 5: Pythagorean Mathematics
Week 6: Three famous construction problems
Week 7: Euclid’s Elements of Geometry
Week 8: More Greek mathematicians
Week 9: Fibonacci
Week 10: Fibonacci and the Renaissance
Week11: Descartes and Newton
Week 12: Probability Theory
Week 13: Number Theory
Week 14: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Mathematics
Week 15: The Liberation of Geometry and Algebra