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Mathematical Treasures: Klein’s Famous Problems of Geometry

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)


Image of TItle of Klein's Famous Problems

Felix Klein (1849-1925) was one of the most influential mathematicians and mathematics educators of his time. In 1897, Wooster Beman and David E. Smith translated a tract titled, in English translation, Presentation on Selected Questions of Elementary Geometry. This tract was compiled from Klein's lectures by F. Tägert, who attended a summer workshop for teachers held at Göttingen University, where Klein was a professor, in 1895. Beman and Smith retitled their translation Famous Problems of Elementary Geometry. These "famous problems" included the "Three Classical Problems of Antiquity," listed below the title (above). Beman and Smith went on to collaborate in the writing of a series of eight secondary mathematics texts used in American schools at the turn of the century. David E. Smith eventually became well known as a mathematics historian and educator.

Image of Chapter II of Klein's Famous Problems

Chapter II of Famous Problems discusses transcendental numbers and the quadrature of the circle.

The Special Collections staff at the Linderman Library of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is pleased to cooperate with the Mathematical Association of America to exhibit this and other items from the Library’s holdings in “Mathematical Treasures.” In particular, Convergence would like to thank Lois Fischer Black, Curator, Special Collections, and Ilhan Citak, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, for their kind assistance in helping to make this display possible. You may use these images in your classroom; all other uses require permission from the Special Collections staff, Linderman Library, Lehigh University.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasures: Klein’s Famous Problems of Geometry," Convergence (August 2014)