Fall 2005

Office: 128 Milner (MILN on the map)

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:30 am, or by appointment.

Email: geller@math.tamu.edu

Phone: 979-845-7531

Fax: 979-845-6028

Welcome to the home page for ** Math 629 History of Mathematics**
for the Fall of 2005. These pages will continue to be
under construction, so please check them regularly for any changes,
especially in due dates and assignments.

This course will consist of reading assignments, problem assignments, a book report, and a term paper. You may find yourself challenged in new ways by the assignments, because some of the problems ask you to conjecture why something might have happened or how someone might have done something, given what they knew at the time. When answering such questions, please support your answers with evidence from the text or other sources. If using other sources, please give references.

One type of discussion omitted by the text so as to make it brief is
biographical material on the various mathematicians. Such material as well as
other information is a web-published book
** Lectures on the History of Mathematics ** by
Dr. Don Allen of Texas A&M University. It has many nice biographies of
mathematicians. There will also be some
links to other web sources. Many
of the readings in Dr.~Allen's book are in .pdf format so you will need an
Acrobat reader, which may be downloaded for free. There are two ways to
access the supplimentary text, one with frames and the other with out:

Textbook
without frames

Textbook
with frames

I find the one with frames nicer to use but your browser may not support frames
or you may have different preferences than I do.

- The assignments will be posted on Homework . Notice that the list of readings are for a given week (week of x where x is a Monday) with the homework on those chapters due the Wednesday of the following week (x+9).
- Homework is due by noon CT on the listed due date (mostly Wednesdays).
- In addition to the problems, after each era please fill out Checklist, which is a good way to summarize the sociological and mathematics times you just read about. Do not send it to me until I ask for it.
- You must do the problems using the techniques available to the time period we are studying. Of course you may check your work with more modern techniques, but please submit only the technique of the period.
- You may send your homework to me via email or fax (979-845-6028). If you send by email, please make the subject line Math 629 homework i, where i is the number of the homework set (1-14), and send the answers in the body, in word, TeX, LatTex, or as a .pdf file, word processed or handwriten. If you fax it to me, be sure to mark clearly on the first page that the fax is for Dr. Sue Geller so that it gets to me and be sure to use very black ink (and clear handwriting) as fax transition is rarely of high quality and tends to blur what is sent.
- When working on the homework, you may email me, talk with classmates, or look things up on the web or in a book, but you may not copy answers - that is plagiarism.

You are expected to write a book report on a history of mathematics topic. I encourage biographies of noted mathematicians. Also of great interest are books on a particular aspect of the history of mathematics such as

- History of linear algebra
- History of abstract algebra
- The mathematical work of Fermat
- The history of probability
- The mathematics of Mesopotamia
- Fibonacci numbers
- History of mathematical encryption
- The axiom of choice

General subject and popular accounts are strongly
discouraged. The key words here are **scholarly with mathematical
content**.

**Directions:
The book report should be 5-10 double-spaced pages.
It must be typed or word processed. It should emphasize the
mathematical aspects
of the subject.
**

I reserve the right to approve all titles. So, when you have selected a book please let me know - before you purchase it. One other important fact is that each student must select a different book. For some acceptible books see Book list.

** Due dates: **

- Each paper should be typed, double spaced, and fully referenced, but any reasonable style of referencing is acceptable.
- Length: Since people have different styles, here are two options.
Please use the one that you find most comfortable.
- 15-20 double-spaced pages
- While a complete, in-depth analysis of the topic is not expected (that would be a dissertation or book), a superficial discussion is not sufficient. The term paper should be a thoughtful discussion of your topic including the appropriate mathematics and history. I want to know by reading the paper that you learned some things and thought seriously about the topic.

- Each student must select a different topic and have it approved by me. (First come, first served.)
- Acceptible term paper topics

Due Dates:

Your final grade will be determined by your performance on the homework, book report, and term paper. Since some of the work is doing problems and writing essays, I think this course does not lend itself to numerical grades only. So some grades may be numerical and others letter grades. The final grade will be determined counting homework and the term paper as equal and the book report as half of each (or 200 points homework, 200 points term paper, 100 points book report, if we were working in points). The grading scheme is:

I realize that almost all of you are working and/or have families, so you
have different constraints than students on campus. It is very helpful to me
as well as useful for you to do each assignment on time. For example,
I know from experience, as do many
of you, that it is much harder to grade fairly when papers are graded
at various times. Therefore,
** late work will not be accepted without prior arrangements,** but
reasonable excuses will be accepted as long as the priviledge is not abused.
When arranging
for late work, be prepared to tell me when you will get the work to me.

Email Dr. Sue Geller

Dr. Geller's Homepage Last update: 27 July, 2005