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University of Connecticut College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Mathematics

Welcome to History of Mathematics (2720W) Fall 2015

Please check weekly for updates!

Catalog course description

  • A historical study of the growth of the various fields of mathematics.

Time Line :


  • Extra help:
  • Uconn Writing Center: All UConn students are invited to visit the University Writing Center for individualized tutorials. The Writing Center staff includes talented and welcoming graduate and undergraduate students from across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. They work with writers at any stage of the writing process, from exploring ideas to polishing final drafts. Their first priority is guiding each student's revisions, so they frequently provide a sounding board for a writer's ideas, arguments, analytical moves, and uses of evidence. They can also work with you on sentence-level concerns, but please note that they will not proofread for you; instead, they will help you become a better editor of your own work. You should come with a copy of the assignment you are working on, a current draft (or notes if you are not yet at the draft stage), and ideas about what you want out of a session. Tutorials run 45 minutes and are free. You can drop in or make an appointment.
  • Academic Integrity                        In this course we aim to conduct ourselves as a community of scholars, recognizing that academic study is both an intellectual and ethical enterprise. You are encouraged to build on the ideas and texts of others; that is a vital part of academic life. You are also obligated to document every occasion when you use another’s ideas, language, or syntax. You are encouraged to study together, discuss readings outside of class, share your drafts during peer review and outside of class, and go to the Writing Center with your drafts. In this course, those activities are well within the bounds of academic honesty. However, when you use another’s ideas or language—whether through direct quotation, summary, or paraphrase—you must formally acknowledge that debt by signaling it with a standard form of academic citation. Even one occasion of academic dishonesty, large or small, on any assignment, large or small, will result in failure for the entire course and referral to Student Judicial Affairs. For University policies on academic honesty, please see UConn’s Responsibilities of Community Life: The Student Code and the Office of Community Standards:
  • Students With Disabilities    
    Students who think that they may need accommodations because of a disability are encouraged to meet with me privately early in the semester. Students should also contact the Center for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible to verify their eligibility for reasonable accommodations.  For more information, please go to
  • Counseling and Mental Health Services
  • Career Services
  • Alcohol and Other Drug Services
  • Dean of Students Office 486-3426
  • About Writing:

  • APA citation style from Cornell
  • general APA style from the University of Wisconsin (note that the only APA formatting you must apply is the citation style; you don't need to worry about formatting headings as APA requires, for instance)
  • Evaluationg sourses:
  • the CSRS checklist from Univ. of Cape Town
Simple Range SearchingSimple Range Searching

About the course
According to university-wide policies for W courses, you cannot pass this courseunless you receive a passing grade for its writing components.

FINAL PAPER DUE:  Dec15  Time:9:00-12:00 in  MSB 127 (in my office: please submit a .PDF file by email, and your paper folder-hard copy in my office)

Text book

Please purchase the two main textbooks (available new at UCONN Bookstore and, both new and used, at

In addition, we will use the following online resource (browse to become familiar with the many biographies and mathematics topics available at this website):

Grading Policy

The course grade will be determined as follows:

  • Individual and Group-Work Assignments,Class Participation, Socratic Circle Evaluations: 25%
  • Paper 1 (3 pages): 20%
  • Paper 2 (5 pages): 25%
  • Paper 3 (7 pages): 30%

The final version of each paper will be graded using the following grading scheme: content (writing style, depth and elaboration of points, evidence of supporting research), argument (focus and organization), mechanics (correct grammar). For details see the Paper Grading Rubric. For details see the Paper Grading Rubric.
According to UCONN policies for W courses, you cannot pass this course unless you receive a passing grade for its writing component (papers 1, 2, and 3).
UCONN policies for W courses require that the combined lengths of the three papers (papers 1, 2 and 3), excluding bibliography, is at least 15 pages. Page length assumes a 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, 1" margin page. There are about 250 words per page. Since typing-software affect page length, please use word count when calculating the length of your paper.

NO LATE SUBMISSIONS  of proposals, drafts, or final versions of papers 1, 2 and 3 are accepted, unless there is a serious emergency for which you provide proof. Paper 3 is considered to be the final exam for this course and as such rescheduling its submission needs approval from UCONN's Dean of Students Office, see UCONN Final Exam Policy.

The Papers (1, 2 and 3)

Consult these links before starting to work on your first writing assignment.

Paper Schedule
Paper Guidelines
(an active link to each paper guidelines will appear in the week before each paper is assigned)
Paper 1
Draft and Draft Cover Letter due:  September 10
Final Version and Final Version Cover Letter due:Sept
Paper 1
Draft Cover Letter Template (Word file)
Final Version Cover Letter Template (Word file)
Paper 2
Proposal due: September 29
Draft and Draft Cover Letter due:  October 15
Final Version and Final Version Cover Letter due: October 23
Paper 2
Draft Cover Letter Template (Word file)
Final Version Cover Letter Template (Word file)
Paper 3
Proposal due:
Draft and Draft Cover Letter due:
Final Version and Final Version Cover Letter due:
Paper 3
Draft Cover Letter Template (Word file)
Final Version Cover Letter Template (Word file)
Guidelines for Peer Review
Peer Review Template (Word file)

Individual and Group-Work Assignments

Small individual or group-work assignments, aimed at practicing mathematical concepts and writing techniques, will be given almost every week. Some of the assignments will be worked at during class-time; others will be given as homework. In all cases, assignments are due the Friday after they were assigned. Each week's assignment will be graded on a scale of 0 to 10 (divided among the various components). For group-works: the group will submit one completed assignment and each member of the group will receive the grade awarded for this joint submission. Most group-works will be started in class, and absent students will not be able to receive credit for the group-work they missed, unless there is a serious reason for their absence.

Course outline

Notes: * Below we will denote by: D =  Journey through Genius by W. Dunham,  B&G = Math through the Ages by W. P. Berlinghoff and
F. Q. Gouvêa,  MTM = The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archives.                        

Week 1:Introduction
Aug 31
 Overviews of the history of mathematics
* The history of numerals
* The history of zero
* PlagiarismTest
* Math Autobiography
* Important historical names, dates, and events
* Mathematical Periods
MTM: An overview of the history of mathematics
B&G: Sketch 1(p 65-70),
Sketch 3 (p 79-82)

Week 2: Arithmetic
Sept 7
* Babylonian mathematics
* Egyptian mathematics
Draft Paper 1 Due
* An overview of Babylonian mathematics
* An overview of Egyptian mathematics

No class: Mon. Sept 7 Labor Day
Week 3: Geometry:Early Greek mathematics
(Thales, Pythagoras, etc.)
* Pythagora practice problems
Sept 14
D: Chapter 1 (p 1-11)
D: Chapter 2 (p 27- 60, you may skip the proof of  propositions I.15, I.16, I.26, I.27, I.32, I.41 and Theorem AAA) 

Week 4: Euclid:
Sept 21
Euclid's Elements: Geometry
* Euclid's Elements: Number theory
  Final version: Paper 1 Due
D: Chapter 3 (p 68-75 and 81-83)
Comma quick rules
B&G: Sketch 12 (p 139-146)

Week 5: Archimedes
Sept 28
* Archimedes and the circular area
* Euclid's Elements: Geometry Non-Euclidean geometries
Proposal Paper 2 Due
D: Chapter 4 (p 84-112)
* Archimedes Cattle Problem (Not required. Read for fun!)
B&G: Sketch 19 (p 193-198) (if time)

Week 6 Greek mathematics after Archimedes
oct 5
* The history of  π
Draft Paper 2 Due

D: Chapter 5 (p 113-118 and 129-132)
B&G: Sketch 7 (p 107-110)

Week 7  Algebra
* Arabic mathematics
* The cossic art
Oct 12

* An overview of Arabic mathematics
Sketch 8 (p 113-118)(if time...)
* The man who counted by Malba Tahan (recommended, but not required)
* Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols (Not required. Check for fun.)

Week 8
* Italian Renaissance: solutions to
   cubic and quartic equations
Oct 19
Final version:  Paper 2 Due

D: Chapter 6 (p 133-154)
B&G: Sketch 10 (p 127-130)
B&G: Sketch 11

Week 9
Oct 26
* Gems from Isaac Newton
D: Chapter 7 (p 155-174 and 177-183)
B&G: Sketch 13 (p147-152)

Week 10
Nov 2
* Calculus: Newton, Leibniz, and the Bernoullis
* Fermat's Last Theorem
Proposal: Paper 3 Due
D: Chapter 8 (p 184-206)

Week 11
Nov 9
* Euler and his legacy
Draft: Paper 3 Due
D: Chapter 9 (p 207-222) and Chapter 10 (p223-235, you may skip the proofs)
Week 12
Nov 16
* Cantor and the challenge of the infinite
* Cantor and the transfinite
Mandatory Peer Review (in class)

D: Chapter 11 (p 245-266)
B&G: Sketch 25 (p 237-242)
D: Chapter 12 (p 267-283)

Thanksgiving Break

Week 13

Nov 17-21

Presentations of final papers!!!
Happy Turkey Day!
Relax and have fun!

Presentations of final papers!!!

No classes: Nov23-27
Week 14

Presentations of final papers!!!
* A brief look backward and forward
* Catch-up and wrap-up

Presentations of final papers!!!
Journal of Mathematics and the Arts:
* Poetry Inspired by Mathematics: A brief journey through history
*Article on Calculus and advanced Math

Final Exam Week
FINAL PAPER DUE:  Dec15  Time:9:00-12:00 in  MSB 127(my office: please submit a .PDF file by email, and your paper folder-hard copy in my office)
Final version: Paper 3
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Instructor Schedule:

Gageonea, Maria

Section 001  MWF
  MSB 319 Time:1:25-2:15
Section 002 TuTh
 MSB403 Time:9:30-10:45

Instructor Contact:

Gageonea, Maria
Office: MSB M127 (Storrs)    Phone: (860)486-6452
Office Hours:                       MWF 11-12 or by Appt.

Maria Gageonea
Department of Mathematics
196 Auditorium Road
Storrs, CT, 06269-3009