Mathematics Pre-May Seminar

Math 250, Spring 2011

Mondays 7-10 PM, Ivers 221

Douglas Anderson, Ph.D.
Ivers 234D

Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 11-4; other times by discovery.

Course Objectives: Mathematics 250 is required for students going on the 2011 Math May Seminar, Math 300G. The primary aim of this course is to prepare ourselves as carefully and completely as possible to see and understand the relevance of mathematics and its role in Western society when we travel abroad. This will include examining the historical and cultural background of the sites we visit, exploring the scientific and religious worldview of the cultures that produced the sites, and the ways in which they influence us today. We will answer the question, "Where is the mathematics?" from simple currency and modular clock arithmetic to the use of geometry in art, group theory in design, and statistics in government. We all must feel obligated to contribute to the discussion of issues; open disagreement is welcome. Each student researches two mathematics topics from the history of mathematics and presents a 15-20 minute oral presentation on each. Additionally, students will form research groups by country to serve as itinerary elaborators and guides. A class travel book will be printed for everyone, consisting of papers, maps, diagrams, and outlines explaining the history, architecture, layout, and so on of the sites we will visit in May.

Student Learner Outcomes:
1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the historical significance of the sites on the seminar through delivery and evaluation of country presentations.
2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of mathematics history related to our trip through problem solving and mathematical exercises.
3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the role of mathematics in western culture through written responses to the readings, via class discussion, and through the keeping of a mathematics journal.

Mathematics in Western Culture by Morris Kline
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
Math through the Ages by William P. Berlinghoff and Fernando Q. Gouvea
An Episodic History of Mathematics: Mathematical Culture Through Problem Solving by Steven G. Krantz
3 Presentations: 2 on Math History, 1 Country Report 20%
Math-related Problems & Exercises 60%
Written Assignments, Evaluations 10%
Math Journal 5%
Participation in Class Discussions, Attendance 5%

Note for 2-credit students: Students taking Math 250 Pre-May Seminar for 2 credits will do 2 presentations instead of 3 (1 Math History, 1 Country), and half of the math-related problems and exercises, and half of the written assignments and evaluations. You are expected to attend all 3 hours of class time, however.

Related Sites:
3D Unveils Great Pyramid's Mystery, a new theory by Jean-Pierre Houdin.
Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols, maintained by Jeff Miller, based on A History of Mathematical Notations by Florian Cajori.
Earliest Known Uses of some of the Words of Mathematics, also maintained by Jeff Miller.
The MacTutor History of Mathematics, Archive.
The History of Mathematics maintained by David R. Wilkins.
The Math Forum @ Drexel.
The Cayley Quilt Maker: Math Art Posters.
Listen to Fourier Series.
Concordia Math's Trip Itinerary: Daily (tentative) schedule for May 2011
Concordia Math May Seminar Links: Sites ranging from readings to weather
Concordia Math May Sem Homepage: Full menu of links

Written Assignments will include a few short papers related to course readings and handouts, and a written site/country report for our seminar travel book. This should be formatted as a two-column landscape Word document.

In the following weekly schedule, the Sketches of mathematical discovery are from Math Through the Ages, and the Episodes from mathematics history are from An Episodic History of Mathematics.

January 3 Introductions, Egyptian History; Engineering an Empire: Egypt I.
Read Kline I-IV (3-59).
January 10 Numerals: Sketch 1, Sketch 2, Episode 1; Engineering an Empire: Egypt II.
Read Kline V-VIII (60-109), Handouts on Islam and Hieroglyphs. Do Ages 1,2,3 & 1,6.
January 17 Sketch 3, Sketch 4, Episode 2; Eratosthenes; epicycle; Archimedes-Infinite Secrets
Read Kline IX-XI (110-158), Schliemann and Scipio. Do Ages 4,5 & 1,2,3.
January 24 Sketch 5, Sketch 6, Episode 4; Dauben's The Art of Renaissance Science; Linear Perspective; Ancient Athens
Read Kline XII-XIV (159-213), Luther and Delphi. Do Ages 5 & 1,2.
January 31 Sketch 7, Sketch 8, Episode 7; Plimpton 322; Engineering an Empire: Rome I
Read Galileo packet, write 1-2 page response. Do Ages 1,2,3 & 1,2,5,6.
February 7 Sketch 9, Sketch 10, Episode 8; Mercator; Galileo; Delphi; Engineering an Empire: Rome II
Read Kline XV-XVII (214-271). Do Ages 1,2,3,7 & 2,3,4.
February 14 Sketch 11, Sketch 12, Episode 10; Constable; 3 Problems; Titius-Bode Law; Secrets of the Parthenon.
Read Kline XVIII-XX (272-321). Do Ages 2,3,4 & 4.
February 28 Sketch 13, Sketch 14, Episode 11; Literary Quotes; Math Music; Stonehenge.
Read Kline XXI-XXIII (322-375), Pascal's Wager and Pascal's Sphere. Do Ages 1-7 & 1-2.
March 7 Sketch 15, Sketch 16, Episode 12; Human Behavior; Brachistochrone; Brach. Graphs; Logistic; Medici I.
Read Kline XXV-XXVII (395-452), Stonehenge Article. Do Ages 1-3 & 1.
March 14 Sketch 17, Sketch 18, Episode 13; Infinity; J. Hudde; Medici II.
Read Logicomix 1-196, Michelangelo article. Do Ages 1-2 & 1-3.
March 21 Sketch 19, Sketch 21, Episode 14; Stars; Spirals; Harriot; Medici III
Read Logicomix 199-344.
March 28 Sketch 22, Episode 15, Episode 16; Cantor
April 4 Episode 18, Episode 20, Episode 22; Country Presentations: Egypt and Greece; Eiffel Tower.
April 11 Country Presentations: Greece, Italy/Switzerland
April 18 Paris and London subway systems; student photo journal management.
Research 2005 Book
May Seminar Blog 2009 Blog site      Egypt      Greece      Italy/Swiss      Paris/London

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  • Last modified: 13 March 2011