# The History of Mathematics

## Here are some mathematical activities that will help you appreciate the origins of Mathematics.

In the timeline above note that the dates associated with mathematicians from further back in history are approximations.

### Origins

Where did mathematics come from? Was it invented or discovered?

This is neither a scheme of work, programme of study or lesson plan. It is an eclectic collection of ideas and activities to use as part of your mathematical studies.

### Maths Minds

Match the mathematician and their birth years with the image suggesting some mathematics they are associated with.

### Mathematician Pairs

The traditional pairs or Pelmanism game requiring the ability to recognise some of the great mathematicians.

### Pascal's Triangle

Get to know this famous number pattern with some revealing learning activities

### Sieve of Eratosthenes

A self checking, interactive version of the Sieve of Eratosthenes method of finding prime numbers.

### Magic Square

Each row, column and diagonal should produce the same sum.

### Roman Numerals Quiz

This online, self marking quiz tests your ability to convert Roman numerals.

### Fibonacci Quest

A number of self marking quizzes based on the fascinating Fibonacci Sequence.

### Remainder Race

A game involving chance and choice requiring an ability to calculate the remainder when a two digit number is divided by a single digit number.

### Code Cracker

Crack the code by replacing the encrypted letters in the given text. There are lots of hints provided about code breaking techniques.

### Tangram Template

An online challenge to use all the pieces of the tangram puzzle to fit into the outlines provided.

### Pythagoras

An online exercise to test your understanding of and ability to apply Pythagoras' Theorem.

### Algebra In Action

Real life problems adapted from an old Mathematics textbook which can be solved using algebra.

### A History of the Calendar

A fast paced animation explaining the development of the modern calendar.

### Königsberg Bridges

This classic puzzle in graph theory was famously solved by the mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1736.

### The modern decimal system

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was developed by Indian mathematicians between the 1st and 4th centuries CE and later adopted by the Islamic world. It was introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages, significantly improving mathematical calculations.

### The first known woman mathematician

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was Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 355–415 CE). She was a philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who taught and wrote on subjects such as algebra and geometry.

### Fibonacci's sequence

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was introduced to the West by Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci, in his 1202 book "Liber Abaci." The sequence was actually based on an earlier Indian work and is famous for its appearance in nature.

### The Pythagorean Theorem

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was known to the Babylonians over 1,000 years before Pythagoras. The famous relationship between the sides of a right triangle appears on a clay tablet known as Plimpton 322, dating back to around 1800 BCE.

### Euclid's "Elements"

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is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics. Written by Euclid around 300 BCE, it served as the main textbook for teaching mathematics for over 2,000 years.

### The word "algebra"

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comes from the Arabic word "al-jabr," which means "reunion of broken parts." It was introduced by the Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi in his 9th-century book "Al-Kitab al-Mukhtasar fi Hisab al-Jabr wal-Muqabala."

### The equals sign (=)

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was invented by the Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde in 1557. He chose this symbol because, as he wrote, "no two things can be more equal than a pair of parallel lines."

### The concept of zero

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was first developed by ancient Indian mathematicians around the 5th century CE. The use of zero as a number was later transmitted to the Islamic world and eventually reached Europe, where it transformed mathematics.

### Oldest Proverb

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"Accurate Reckoning. The entrance into the knowledge of all existing things and all obscure secrets." is an ancient Egyptian mathematical proverb found in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, which dates back to around 1650 BCE.

## Create a Classroom Mathematics Timeline

600BCE

2024

Creating a timeline of mathematics along the top of your classroom walls can be a fantastic visual aid for students, helping them to understand the historical context and development of mathematical concepts. Below is a step-by-step guide with tips and ideas to help you design this timeline effectively.

## 1. Choose the Starting Year

• The timeline should begin around 600 BCE. This starting point allows you to cover significant milestones in the history of mathematics up to the modern day while using a linear scale.
• That time is when mathematics became less about accounting and more about the academic subject we know to day.

## 2. Plan the Layout

• Start the timeline on the right side of the windows and wrap it around the classroom, ending on the left side of the windows.
• Ensure the timeline is quite high so that it can pass over notice boards and doors. The text needs to be bold and large enough so that students can easily view and follow it.
• You might decide to use different colours or symbols to distinguish between different periods or mathematical disciplines (e.g., algebra, geometry, calculus).

## 3. Select Notable Events and Mathematicians

• Include key milestones such as the development of the Pythagorean Theorem (circa 500 BCE), Euclid’s Elements (circa 300 BCE), the invention of calculus (17th century), and the emergence of computer science in the 20th century.
• Highlight famous mathematicians, including Euclid, Archimedes, Isaac Newton, Ada Lovelace, and Alan Turing.
• Consider adding discoveries that link mathematics with other disciplines, such as physics and engineering.

## 4. Design and Create the Timeline

• Use a long strip of coloured tape or a painted line to represent the timeline on the walls. Ensure the timeline is straight and evenly spaced.
• Mark significant years or periods along the line with small vertical lines or dots.
• For each notable event or mathematician, create small posters or cards with a brief description and a relevant image. Attach these to the wall at the appropriate points on the timeline.
• If space allows, include QR codes on the posters that link to more detailed online resources or videos. You can find QR codes ready to print at the very bottom of each mathematician's page (click the information symbol next to the mathematician's name below then scroll to the bottom of the page).

## 5. Engage Students with the Timeline

• Involve students in the creation process by assigning them research projects on specific mathematicians or events to add to the timeline.
• Use the timeline as a teaching tool during lessons, referring to it to contextualise the development of mathematical ideas.
• Encourage students to explore connections between different events on the timeline and to reflect on how mathematical concepts have evolved over time.

## 6. Update and Expand the Timeline

• Keep the timeline dynamic by adding new discoveries or current events in mathematics that have historical significance.
• Consider expanding the timeline to include more cultural and global perspectives on the history of mathematics.

By following these steps, you can create a visually engaging and educational mathematics timeline that will inspire and inform your students throughout the year.

Here is an alphabetical list of the mathematicians who appear in the timeline at the top of this page. More information can be found by either clicking on their name in the timeline above or the information symbol in the list below.

📜 Abraham de Moivre (1667 - 1754)

📜 Abu al-Wafa (940 - 998)

📜 Adrien-Marie Legendre (1752 - 1833)

📜 Al-Khwarizmi (780 - 850)

📜 Alan Turing (1912 - 1954)

📜 Andrew Wiles (1953 - present)

📜 Apollonius (262BCE - 190BCE)

📜 Archimedes (287BCE - 212BCE)

📜 Aryabhata (476 - 550)

📜 Augustin-Louis Cauchy (1789 - 1857)

📜 Bernhard Riemann (1826 - 1866)

📜 Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)

📜 Brahmagupta (598 - 668)

📜 Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777 - 1855)

📜 David Hilbert (1862 - 1943)

📜 Diophantus (200 - 284)

📜 Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935)

📜 Eratosthenes (276BCE - 194BCE)

📜 Euclid (330BCE - 270BCE)

📜 Eudoxus of Cnidus (390BCE - 340BCE)

📜 Fibonacci (1170 - 1250)

📜 François Viète (1540 - 1603)

📜 Georg Cantor (1845 - 1918)

📜 George Boole (1815 - 1864)

📜 Gerolamo Cardano (1501 - 1576)

📜 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 - 1716)

📜 Gottlob Frege (1848 - 1925)

📜 Henri Poincaré (1854 - 1912)

📜 Heron of Alexandria (50BCE - 40)

📜 Hipparchus (190BCE - 120BCE)

📜 Hippocrates of Chios (470BCE - 410BCE)

📜 Hypatia (355 - 415)

📜 Isaac Newton (1642 - 1726)

📜 Jacob Bernoulli (1654 - 1705)

📜 Jamshid al-Kashi (1380 - 1429)

📜 Johann Bernoulli (1667 - 1748)

📜 Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630)

📜 John Napier (1550 - 1617)

📜 John von Neumann (1903 - 1957)

📜 Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736 - 1813)

📜 Karl Weierstrass (1815 - 1897)

📜 Kurt Gödel (1906 - 1978)

📜 Leonhard Euler (1707 - 1783)

📜 Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 - 1543)

📜 Nicole Oresme (1323 - 1382)

📜 Nikolai Lobachevsky (1792 - 1856)

📜 Omar Khayyam (1048 - 1131)

📜 Paul Erdős (1913 - 1996)

📜 Pierre de Fermat (1607 - 1665)

📜 Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749 - 1827)

📜 Ptolemy (100 - 170)

📜 Pythagoras (570BCE - 495BCE)

📜 Ramanujan (1887 - 1920)

📜 René Descartes (1596 - 1650)

📜 Zu Chongzhi (429 - 500)

Transum,

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"And the sad thing is that I still remember some of these calculators that are now museum exhibits.

I took these photographs in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge in July 2019"

Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for those learning Mathematics anywhere in the world. Click here to enter your comments.