Mathematics 446
The history of mathematics  Fall, 2003
This term the main topic will be the history of
numbers, with an emphasis on
numbers which are not fractions. The course will
be basically a series of snapshots of different periods.
We'll begin with:

The Babylonian tablet YBC 7249

Plato's discussion of the square root of two in
the Meno

Euclid's books V and VI from the Elements

Archimedes' applications of the method of exhaustion
and wind up eventually with

Dedekind's treatise on real numbers

Transcendental and algebraic numbers in the nineteenth century
References will be scattered  some in libraries,
many on the Internet. All students will be expected to read
and digest original sources (translated into English).
They will also be expected to do independent projects,
mostly involving an essay explaining what they find in
an original source.
Class notes
In addition, use MathSciNet
to locate articles by R. Creighton Buck (Sherlock Holmes ... )
and Eleanor Robson (Neither Sherlock Holmes ... ). In order to
use MathSciNet you will have to use a University computer,
or set up a proxy server through the UBC library.
Instructions on how to do this can be found at
http://www.library.ubc.ca/home/proxyinfo/.
Assignments
