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What's in Convergence? - Contents of Volume 7 - 2010 (Loci - Volume 2)

Editors:  Janet Beery, Kathleen Clark


Discovering the Beauty of Science, by Christine Latulippe and Joe Latulippe

The authors' math history class visited the "Beautiful Science" exhibit at the Huntington Library in Southern California. Find actual math history texts and artifacts near you and virtual ones online to share with your students.

Johannes Kepler’s Astronomia Nova, by Frank J. Swetz

Images from Kepler’s 1609 New Astronomy.

The Geometry of Rene Descartes, by Frank J. Swetz

Images from a 1659 Latin edition of Descartes’ Geometria, originally published in 1637 in French as La géométrie.

The Enigmatic Number e: A History in Verse and Its Uses in the Mathematics Classroom, by Sarah Glaz

The author uses her poem, "The Enigmatic Number e," to show how poetry about the history of mathematics can be used to enrich and enliven mathematics instruction.

Servois' 1814 Essay on the Principles of the Differential Calculus, with an English Translation, by Robert E. Bradley and Salvatore J. Petrilli, Jr.

The authors provide an analysis and English translation of the argument by a little known French mathematician that calculus should be based on series rather than on infinitesimals.

HOM SIGMAA 2010 Student Paper Contest Winners, featuring essays by Jennifer Nielsen, Palmer Rampell, and Stefanie Streck

Download the three winning essays from the 2010 HOM SIGMAA Student Paper Contest to learn about medieval Islamic dust boards, Old Babylonian similarity, and the Fermat Problem.

Extracting Square Roots Made Easy: A Little Known Medieval Method, by Friedrich Katscher

A method for extracting square roots used in Italy through the 18th century was introduced in a manuscript by the 12th century mathematician al-Hassar.

Logarithms:  The Early History of a Familiar Function, by Kathleen Clark and Clemency Montelle

The authors recount the ‘great tale’ of Napier’s and Burgi’s parallel development of logarithms and urge you to use it in class.

François-Joseph Servois: Priest, Artillery Officer, and Professor of Mathematics, by Salvatore J. Petrilli, Jr.

This biography reveals that, during his life as a military officer and mathematician, Servois fought for Paris and for the foundations of calculus.

A Disquisition on the Square Root of Three, by Robert J. Wisner

The author compares Greek ladder, continued fraction, and Newton's Method approximations, pointing out that the Greek ladder easily produces both of Archimedes' famous bounds.

Combining Strands of Many Colors: Episodes from Medieval Islam for the Mathematics Classroom, by Randy K. Schwartz

The author presents five modules based on mathematics from medieval Islamic cultures for use in a variety of high school and college mathematics courses.

Maya Calendar Conversions, by Ximena Catepillan and Waclaw Szymanski

Students learn about Maya calendar systems, including how to convert Maya Long Count dates to Calendar Round (Tzolkin and Haab calendar) dates, on a trip to the Yucatan.

Servois' 1814 Essay on a New Method of Exposition of the Principles of Differential Calculus, with an English Translation, by Robert E. Bradley and Salvatore J. Petrilli, Jr.

A study and English translation of Servois' attempt to place calculus on a foundation of algebraic analysis without recourse to infinitesimals, continuing the work of Lagrange


The Music of Pythagoras, by Kitty Ferguson.  Reviewed by Gail Kaplan.

Subtitled How an Ancient Brotherhood Cracked the Code of the Universe and Lit the Path from Antiquity to Outer Space, this is a book of entertaining stories more so than scholarly research.

Routes of Learning: Highways, Pathways, and Byways in the History of Mathematics, by Ivor Grattan-Guinness.  Reviewed by Frank J. Swetz.

In this collection of essays on modern trends and issues in the history of mathematics, consideration of mathematics history in the classroom is often more theoretical than practical.

The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics, by Clifford A. Pickover.  Reviewed by Frank J. Swetz.

In this fascinating and accessible book, the author devotes one page of lively and informative text and one striking, full-page illustration to each milestone.

Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil.  Reviewed by Shirley Gray.

Our reviewer reports that the movie, Agora, about the mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 400 AD), is spectacular and intriguing but that Hypatia could and should have been portrayed as the heroine she truly was.

The Babylonian Theorem: The Mathematical Journey to Pythagoras and Euclid, by Peter S. Rudman.  Reviewed by Frank J. Swetz.

The author constructs a possible and plausible path from the mathematics of the ancient Babylonians of 2000-1600 BCE to that of Pythagoras, Euclid, and the ancient Greeks of 600-300 BCE.

De grands défis mathématiques d'Euclide àCondorcet, edited by Evelyne Barbin. Reviewed by Marc Moyon.

Nine examples of using mathematics history in the mathematics classroom -- for those who read French!

"What's in Convergence? - Contents of Volume 7 - 2010 (Loci - Volume 2)," Convergence (October 2009)