Mathematics through its History
It is a well-kept secret that doing mathematics really is fun---at least for mathematicians---
and I am amazed at how often we use the word "beautiful" to describe work that satisfies us. I am reminded of a remark by a mathematician . . . who was talking with some anthropologists about early human experiments with fire. One anthropologist suggested that these humans were motivated by a desire for better cooking; another thought they were after a dependable source of heat. [The mathematician] said he believed fire came under human control because of their fascination with the flame. I believe that the best mathematicians are fascinated by the flame, and that this is a good thing . . . [b]ecause, fortunately for society, their fascination has, in the end, provided the good cooking and reliable heat we all need. - Phillip A. Griffiths, Director of Institute for Advanced Study
Instructors: Dr. Janet Beery (instructor of record), Jody Cochrane, Sasha Mariscal
Instructor Office Hours: Professor Beery usually will have office hours Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 4 to 5 p.m. and Friday afternoons (exact times to be announced each week), and will be happy to meet with you by appointment as well, in Hentschke 203D (x3118). The other instructors will lead study sessions, most often in the evenings (exact times and locations to be announced).
Class Meetings: Monday through Thursday, , Hentschke 201
Also required: Calculator, scissors, compass, and straightedge (ruler)
Prerequisites: MATH 100/101 (or higher) placement from Mathematics Placement Exam
(but you need not have taken MATH 100/101 yet). If you need to take or
re-take the Math Placement Exam, please see the Mathematics Department
secretary, Mrs. Janine Stilt, right away.
LAF: MS 3
- To understand mathematics as a significant and central human endeavor motivated as much by human curiosity as by practical application;
- To understand several historical developments in mathematics, to include the invention of counting, number systems, arithmetic, fractions, geometry, algebra, and infinite sequences and sums in various civilizations;
- To understand how mathematics influences culture and how culture shapes the development and practice of mathematics;
- To become acquainted with mathematicians and practitioners of mathematics from various places and times;
- To improve your ability to read both mathematics and history;
- To improve your ability to solve mathematical problems;
- To improve your ability to think logically, analytically, and abstractly; and
- To improve your ability to communicate history and mathematics, both orally and in writing.
Grading: Quizzes, 50%; in-class activities, 25%; homework, 25%
Final % Grade Final % Grade Final % Grade
94-100 4.0/A 79-81 2.7/B- 63-66 1.3/D+
90-93 3.7/A- 75-78 2.3/C+ 60-62 1.0/D
86-89 3.3/B+ 70-74 2.0/C 55-59 0.7/D-
82-85 3.0/B 67-69 1.7/C- 0-54 0.0/F
Quizzes and Examinations: There will be a quiz at the start of every class period beginning Wednesday, Jan. 9. Quizzes will range in value from 10 points to 100 points, with most quizzes worth 20 points. There will be two 50-point quizzes, one during the week of January 14 and one during the week of January 21 (we'll decide on exact dates beforehand). The final quiz will be worth 100 points and will be held in class on Thursday, January 31.
Quizzes will include both mathematical calculations and short essays about mathematics and its history. They may be comprehensive, but usually will focus on your most recent reading and coursework. The final quiz will be comprehensive (meaning it covers EVERYTHING!). Quizzes and examinations cannot be made up, however your 40 lowest quiz points will not be included in your final quiz average.
Daily Classroom Activities: There will be individual and group activities (written and oral) during each class period and group presentations during some class periods. These activities may not be made up, but your two lowest activity scores will not be included in your classroom activity average.
Daily Homework Assignments: A homework assignment consisting of reading and exercises (from the text or distributed in class) will be given during every class meeting. Assignments are due at the start of the next class period. Late homework will not be accepted without prior permission, but your two lowest daily homework scores will not be included in your homework average.
Homework exercises will include both mathematical calculations and short essays about mathematics and its history. You may discuss strategies for solving homework exercises and ideas for essays with instructors, tutors, and classmates, and you should check answers to computational exercises with your classmates. However, while you are encouraged to work with others on homework, the work you hand in must be essentially your own. A good way to ensure this is to write up your solutions and your essays on your own, making sure you understand each step or argument as you write it out.
Time Commitment: In any college course, you should expect to spend at least two hours studying outside of class for every hour spent in class. For each of our 2 hour, 50 minute class sessions, this translates to 5 hours, 40 minutes of quality time studying outside of class. How much time you actually spend studying outside of class will depend on how fast you read (with comprehension) and how fast you do mathematics, but, if you wish to earn a good grade, plan on studying a lot!
Tutors: Your best bet is to get help from one of the instructors for the course during their daily office hours and/or study sessions. You also may sign up for a tutor through Student Services, located in Library 112 (west side of the basement of Armacost Library). To obtain your very own tutor, go to Student Services and ask to sign up for a MATH 115 tutor. They'll give you a form you and I both must sign, and which you'll then return to them. After you return the form, they'll give you the name of a tutor with whom you may set up an appointment. Notice that this process will take some time, so don't wait until the last minute to sign up for a tutor. Student Services tutors are free.
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