The history of mathematics - Spring, 2005
NOTE: there will be no class Wednesday, January 19. Class will take place on Friday.
This term the main topic will be the history of numbers (as opposed to geometry). The course will be basically a series of snapshots of different developments. We'll begin with early ways of representing numbers, and then look at Euclid's treatment of both magnitudes and integers. Eventually we'll look at Dedekind's treatise on real numbers, the ultimate development of Book V of Euclid's Elements.
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 will apppaer on this site from time to time. Some idea of what the course will be like can be seen at the web page for Math 446 - 2003.
Every student taking this course must have previously taken 27 units of courses in either mathematics or computer science. If the credits are in computer science they must be approved by me explicitly.
Grading will be based on (1) roughly weekly assignments; (2) exams - a mid-term examination, a final examination, and numerous quizzes; (3) a final essay project. As a rule, every day on which an assignment is due there will be a short quiz on the same material. Exams and quizzes will be graded proportionally to duration. I have not yet decided how the three different components will be weighted. More information about the essay projects will be posted here later on.
In order not to get a grade of 0 on a quiz or examination, a student must present a valid medical excuse within 2 days of the missed exam, or arrange the absence, and have it approved by the insructor, at least 2 days in advance.
The projectsEvery student is required to hand in a project at the end of the term. These will normally be essays of some kind explaining something about mathematics and history. All project topics must be approved by the instructor. An essay should normally be about 20-30 pages in length, and done by computer word-processing. Illustrations are encouraged. All sources - all illustrations and text not produced entirely by you - must be acknowledged. Grades will be based on:
The diagnostic quiz