Each student in the class should write a paper and submit it by the
end of the last week of this summer term. Here I provide some
suggestions. Here are some important things to keep in mind
This is not a course on history. It is on the history of
*mathematics*. Therefore you paper should contain some mathematics,
and not just history.
The quality of the paper is more important than its length. By I
am expecting about a 5 page paper concise paper.
You are welcome to use material on the web or in the library but
please be sure to give citations.
You are welcome to pair up and work with a partner. If you choose
to do this, then the topic should be susbtantial and the work load
be divided evenly between the two.
You can either do a compartive study (How a particualar problem
was approached by the Greeks, Chinese, Indians and talk about the
merits and demerits of their methods), or you can focus one problem
and go in great mathematical depth (explain history and motivation of the
problem, and how it was solved, and how it was applied in other fields).
You can also write a paper on how Mathematics has had interactions
with other disciplined. Math and Religion, Math and Science, or Math
You will graded based on the clarity, Mathematical content, and
originality in your presentation.
Here are some ideas for papers:
Note: Things in red have already been taken by someone.
Pythagorus Theorem in different cultures
The Pell's equation
The sunset on lake Michigan and the circumference of the earth
On the work of Archimedes
A survey on Vedic mathematics
Navigation and Astronomy in the renaissance
Problems in physics: Free hanging chain, The Brachistochrone and The
Math and Religion
Approximations to the number "pi" in various civilisations
The birth of the Heliocentric model
The history of logarithms
A modern approach to Perspective
The Ptolemy's model of the universe
Greek Mathematics and Astronomy
The cubic equation and the birth of imaginary numbers
More to be added ..
The presentations of your projects will spread over 3 days: July 6, 7
and 8. You must attend all the
presentations on all 3 days (This is very important!). There is a lot
you can learn from your classmates. So don't miss any presentation. Here are some important
things to keep in mind when you present your paper.
Clarity: Your presentation should be very clear and easy to
Big picture: It is hard to provide technical details in 25
minutes. So you should make an effort to convey the big picture. In particular,
a person who walks out of the room after your talk should be able to
explain what your talk was all about to anyone else. (Of course, it is assumed
here that this first person was paying attention while you were
talking and that the second person has the right background.)
Mathematical content: As said before, this is a course on the
history of mathematics and not history. So there should be some interesting
mathematics presented along the side.
Timing: Please practise your talk beforehand so that you would not go overtime
(25 minutes is the strict limit)
Software: Powerpoint, Latex, Maple and other softwares are highly
Title and abstract: Below I gave a title for your talk. Let me know if your
title is different from what I have below. Finally, I want you to
post a small abstract of your talk on our blog under the section "Presentations".
3:40 - 4:05
Ashley Alex and Christine Larson
Pythagorean theorem in different