Mathematics 479 (History and Philosophy of Mathematics)

Fall, 2008

(Prerequisite: Math 122; or Permission of the instructor)

1 hours, 1 credits


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to basic ideas in the philosophy of mathematics and to chart the history of mathematics from ancient to modern times. The accomplishments of many mathematicians from all cultures and historical eras will be covered.


1. Numbers and their representations

2. History of place notation and the zero

3. The development of geometry

4. The development of algebra

5. The history of solving equations

6. The flowering of different branches of mathematics

7. The history of mathematics outside of western culture

8. Mathematical superstars (Newton, Archimedes, Euler, Noether, etc.)


Berlinghoff, W. and F. Gouvea, Math through the Ages
Oxton House Publishers, Farmington, Maine, 2002

(Note: A more elaborate version of this book is available through MAA but is more costly.)

Grading based on:

One Midterm Examination (to be given atabout the 2/3 point of the semester), Final examination (which will cover the whole semester's work), Writing project and classwork.

Note: Homework will be assigned but it will not typically be gone over in class. Students who wish to have homework corrected on a volunary basis can do so.

The examinations will be announced in advance.

Prepared by:

Joseph Malkevitch (Department of Mathematics)


web page:

Date: Fall, 2008