Mathematics 479 (History and Philosophy of Mathematics)

Fall 2007

(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.


Many of the handouts and homework assignments for this course can be downloaded from the following web site:

If you scroll down this page you can sometimes find materials from previous times that I have taught this course and which may also interest you.

Topics (Not always covered in the order below):

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.)

9. How mathematics differs from other branches of knowledge.


Berlinghoff, W. and F. Gouvea, Math through the Ages

Oxton House Publishers, Farmington, Maine, 2002

Grading based on:

One Midterm Examination; Writing project and classwork.

The examination will be announced in advance.

Prepared by:

Joseph Malkevitch (Department of Mathematics)

Phone: 718-262-2551 (Leave a message if I am not there.)

The best way to get in touch with me:


Note: The Math/CS Club meets regularly on Wed. from 3-4 pm. in 2C07 (Departmental Conference Room). Often these talks have something of historical interest. Refreshements are served at these meetngs. On some Wednesdays, instead of the regular Club meeting there will be a meeting of the Mathematics Education Seminar.

Date: Fall, 2007