Tuesdays, 9:40–11:05, Mar. 27–May 1
Instructor: Michael Flicker
Class limit: 25
The written record of mathematics started during the period 3300-1500 BCE, with Babylonian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian papyri. These mathematics included number systems, the area and volume of simple figures, and the solution of linear and quadratic equations. Jumping forward 1,000 years to the period from 600 BCE-300 CE, we find the astounding flowering of mathematics under the Greeks and the Chinese. These lectures will address the mathematics of the Greek period through the work of some of the key contributors: Thales, the Pythagorean School, Eudoxus, Euclid, Archimedes, Apollonous, and Diophantus. The lecture on China covers the period from about 1000 BCE to 300 CE, ending with The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art by Liu Hui. At this point we will skip to 1200 CE to study the impact of Fibonacci on our number system and European mathematics. Along the way we will discuss zero.
Michael Flicker has a PhD in physics and has had an interest in the history of mathematics since high school.