Course MAT301

The History of Mathematics

Seminar will examine themes and ideas from the history of mathematics spanning the entirety of human history, from the oldest surviving written texts (numbers on clay tablets) to the present, with a focus on the mathematics of modern Europe. We will examine key debates and turning-points both within mathematics and in approaches to the history of mathematics as we develop a nuanced approach to understanding the historical relationships between mathematical practitioners and their theories, values, cultures, and circumstances.

Description of classes

Reading/Writing Assignments:
Readings will be a mixture of primary sources and chapters and articles of recent scholarship on the history of mathematics.

Take Home Final Exam 35%
Class/Precept Participation 25%
Paper(s) 40%


Graduate student and faculty auditors are welcome.

Placement and Prerequisites

MAT103, 104 or equivalent. Students unfamiliar with mathematical analysis MAT215 and abstract algebra MAT345 should be prepared for extra reading in preparation for the second half of the course.

Sample Material

Sample Reading List:
John Fauvel & Jeremy Gray
The History of Mathematics: A Reader
Banjamin Wardhaugh
How to Read Historical Mathematics