Math History Theme Page

This "Theme Page" has links to information about Math History. Students and teachers will find curricular resources (information, content...) to help them learn about this topic. In addition, there are also links to instructional materials (lesson plans) which will help teachers provide instruction in this theme. Please read our disclaimer.


Abacus in Various Number Systems
A brief introduction how the abacus works followed by an applet where students can explore its operations.

About Pi
A brief history of pi and answers to What is pi? Who first used pi? How do you find its value? What is it for? How many digits is it?

Ancient Geometry
The (relatively short) chapters in this online textbook are: The First Mathematicians (Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans), The Most Famous Teacher (Euclid), Al'Khwarizmi & Al Jabr (Algebra), Pi, Beginnings of Trigonometry, Of Amusement and Recreation, and The Newer Mathematics.

Ancient India's Contribution to Mathematics
Read more about the role of Ancient India in the development of the concept of zero, the techniques of algebra, algorithms, square roots, cube roots, and rudiments of geometry.

Arabic Numerals
A brief explanation of the origin of our numbers.

Biographies of Women Mathematicians
You can find the biographies of more than 125 women mathematicians either alphabetically or chronologically from the 5th Century BC to the mid 1900's in this on-going project by students in mathematics classes at Agnes Scott College, in Atlanta, Georgia.

[A] Brief History of Algebra and Computing
Chapters on: The Origins of Algebra; Early English Algebra; Algebra and Analytical Engines; Boolean Algebra; Algebra and Computing; Recent Developments in the Algebra of Programs.

Egyptian Mathematics
A brief description of how Egyptian number system works is accompanied by three links to activities designed for students to practice their skills.

Famous Problems in the History of Mathematics
The purpose of this site is to present a small portion of the history of mathematics through an investigation of some of the great problems that have inspired mathematicians throughout the ages. Included are problems that are suitable for middle school and high school math students, with links to solutions, as well as links to mathematicians' biographies and other math history sites.
This resource is part of The Math Forum , arguably the premier math education site on the web. If you wish to search for more History of Math resources than what is on this CLN Theme Page, the Math Forum search engine would be a good place to start.

[A] Fun Way to Learn Math History
Junior high students use the Internet to learn more about famous mathematicians in this four day lesson plan.

History of Mathematics
This site has extensive lists of famous mathematicians. The lists are organized chronologically (almost 50 distinct periods from 1700 BC to 1940 ) or you can access the data by region (Babylonia, Egypt, China, Greece, India, Arab sphere, Japan, and Europe). Generally only the mathematician's name and dates lived are provided but there are a few hyperlinks to more information.

MacTutor History of Mathematics Archives
Don't miss this site! It has biographies of more than 1300 mathematicians, articles on the history of various math topics, the history and properties of more than 60 curves, a Mathematician of the Day feature, and more....

Materials for the History of Statistics
These university resources include brief biographies of statisticians, over 200 portraits, as well as essays on their works.

Math Archives: History of Mathematics
A metalist of links to about 60 web sites on this topic.

Math Book Collection
Electronic copies of 571 original math works accessible by title or by author. Caution: if using access by author, the hotlink is the small arrow icon to the left of the name.

Mathematicial Quotations Server
Furman University offers this browsable, searchable and downloadable collection of quotations from famous, and not so famous, mathematicians.

Mathematicians of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The lives and works of more than 75 mathematicians from England and continental Europe. Caution: you may experience delays in connecting to this site.

Mathematicians of the African Diaspora
In Mathematics, more than any other field of study, have we heard proclamations and statements similar to, 'The Negro is incapable of succeeding.' Ancient and present achievements contradict such statements. One of the purposes of this website is to exhibit the inaccuracy of those proclamations by exhibiting the accomplishments of the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora within the Mathematical Sciences.

Math History: Sample Activity Archive
A small collection of sample activities taken from textbooks published by the AIMS Education Foundation. Students first read an introduction about the mathematician (e.g., Lovelace, Newton, Descartes) full of annecdotes about their life to help them realize that they were people too. A brief student activity follows.

Mesopotamian Mathematics
Everything you ever wanted to know about this topic.

[The] Moldy Oldies Collection
This collection of about 20 biographies written by elementary students may stimulate your students to do similar research.

StudyWeb: History of Mathematics
This annotated metalist is a good source of links to more specific web resources that can't be included in a limited page like this Theme Page. You can find links to specific mathematicians and cultures (e.g., Babylonian, Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec), for example.

TrackStar
TrackStar is an online interface which allows instructors to create lessons for students by sequencing existing instructional content in various web sites within a lesson. Students explore one topic at a particular location within one web site then move on to the next topic at another web site. The list of topics remains visible throughout the lesson so that students can remain on track. Explorations of the web sites beyond the designated instructional content are also possible.

This link is to their search page from where a keyword search on "math history" will produce over a dozen hits. Caution.
#1: Many of the web sites that these lessons access may already be on this CLN page - it's the creation of lesson objectives and the sequencing of the tours through the sites that make the lesson potentially useful to your students.
#2: The quality of the lessons (e.g., definining objectives, finding web sites, sequencing the tours) will vary widely within the TrackStar collection.

Who Am I?
In this lesson plan from WNet, grade 5-12 students use the Internet to discover the identities of several famous mathematicians. A teacher's guide is available.

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Note: The sites listed above will serve as a source of curricular content in Math History For other resources in Mathematics (e.g., curricular content, lesson plans, and theme pages), click the "previous screen" button below. Or, click here if you wish to return directly to the CLN menu which will give you access to educational resources in all of our subjects.

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