Great Discoveries in Mathematics

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Great Discoveries in Mathematics
Mathematics Course
Course CodeHMAT
Year Opened1998
Sites OfferedLOS, SRF
Previously OfferedPAL
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (1999):

From ancient to modern times, math has been fundamental to the development of science, engineering, and philosophy. In this course, students consider the math questions and problems that have fascinated humans across cultures since the beginning of recorded history. Additionally, students cover topics in sufficient mathematical depth to complete the class with not only an understanding of the historical development of major mathematical ideas, but also a solid background in mathematical concepts they will encounter in more advanced course work.

Throughout the course, students examine the role of math in early cultures including the Egyptians, Africans, Greeks, Mayans, Asians, and Babylonians. They work through problems discovered in ancient mathematical documents, such as the Rhind Papyrus, the Plimpton 322 tablet, and the Rosetta Stone. Additionally, students examine the history of mathematical concepts from their roots to modern day applications. For example, students trace the irrational number pi, from its approximated value of three in the Bible, to its computer-calculated value of a billion digits in the 1990s. After tracing pi’s history, students identify and solve problems using pi, discovering some of the many ways it is applied in geometry and other mathematical disciplines. Students leave the course with a greater awareness of a wide range of topics within mathematics, including arithmetic, number theory, algebra, and geometry.