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Math Through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others, Expanded Edition (Mathematical Association of America Textbooks) Hardcover – December 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0883857366 ISBN-10: 0883857367 Edition: 2nd

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Math Through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others, Expanded Edition (Mathematical Association of America Textbooks) + Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics
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Product Details

  • Series: Mathematical Association of America Textbooks
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The Mathematical Association of America: Oxton House Publishing; 2 edition (December 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0883857367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0883857366
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'This is a beautiful and important book, a pleasure to read, in which the history recounted fully illuminates the mathematical ideas, and the ideas themselves are superbly explained: a wonderful accomplishment.' Barry Mazur, Harvard University

Book Description

Where did maths come from? Who thought up all those symbols, and why? What's the story behind negative numbers? The sketches here answer these questions and many others in an informal, easygoing style that's accessible to teachers, students, and anyone who is curious about the history of mathematical ideas.

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Customer Reviews

The writing is vibrant and to the point.
Sam Adams
If your interest is in learning a bit more about the history of mathematics, it will also serve you well in that capacity.
Charles Ashbacher
This book is a resource that all high school teachers should have.
W. D. Garraway

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As students struggle through their mathematics lessons, it is sometimes helpful for them to understand that the creators of their torment often struggled as well. Furthermore, when we present the polished mathematics of calculus, linear algebra and so forth, educators often forget the long historical road that led to the material that we handle so well. In this excellent book covering the history of mathematics, the authors demonstrate a competency of exposition and a focus on the key points that students and teachers can both appreciate.
It begins with a short and rapid recapitulation of mathematics from the first primitive scratches in the dust to the role of computers in solving problems. After this whirlwind beginning, you are subjected to twenty-five short essays, each about a specific point in mathematical history. By point, I don't mean in time, rather a point as in a position in a discussion. These essays are very well written and each would be excellent fodder for a one-hour class lecture or presentation. Questions for discussion and material for projects are included with each of the short essays. Topics covered in the essays include: the development of the zero, the story of pi, writing fractions, negative numbers, the development of coordinate geometry, complex numbers, Non-Euclidean geometry, probability theory and Boolean algebra.
This is by far the best book I have seen for courses in the history of mathematics. With the essays, problems and ideas for projects, all an instructor needs to do is read, discuss and enjoy. If your interest is in learning a bit more about the history of mathematics, it will also serve you well in that capacity.
Published in the recreational mathematics e-mail newsletter, reprinted with permission.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, it is impossible to understand a subject without knowing something about the people who developed it. Like other subjects, a mathematical result rarely springs into existence in a complete form, but is developed in increments, with several people involved in the construction. I am also a firm believer that all undergraduate math majors should be required to take a course in the history of mathematics. With the proper resources, it can be the most enjoyable course in the curriculum, and given the quality of this book, if it is the textbook, then any problems you have in the course are due to other factors.
Starting at the point where humans began to count their fingers and toes and ending with the initial development of the digital computer, the authors manage an impressive amount of depth in so few pages. It is a rare occasion when a book can be recommended reading for teachers from the middle school level up through the undergraduate, but this is such a case. The authors were justified in using the word gentle in the title, and it can be read by anyone with a high school mathematics education and beyond.
The writing is clear, succinct, and yet complete. For those interested in greater detail, there is a section devoted to what to read next, a list of online resources and an extensive bibliography. If you can't find what you are looking for by consulting these references, then it probably does not exist. If you have an interest in the history of mathematics, there is no better place to start than this book.
Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Glen Van Brummelen on February 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Most of the texts available for history of mathematics courses are aimed at upper-level undergraduate students and try to be encyclopedic. This book fills a needed hole in the offerings through its accessibility to freshmen, and its explicit aim not to cover everything. It contains a 56-page snapshot overview followed by 25 articles on particular topics, ideal jumping-off points for student presentations and/or research projects. The articles are clearly written, not intimidating yet accurate and sensitive to the current state of the art in the field. The references to further reading are useful and reliable sources.
After 13 years of frustration, I may finally have found a book that works with my course. Highly recommended!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By W. D. Garraway on February 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a resource that all high school teachers should have. It begins with a relatively short (about 60 pages) history of mathematics and then diverges into a series of indepth explorations of particular mathematical topics.
The history section at the beginning has many small tidbits which will enhance the learning experience. The indepth explorations, which range from Pythagorus to geometry, will nicely enhance your lesson plans. Most of them can serve as the theme that particular lessons can be built around. I am currently working on my practicum at a local highschool and I am using the book regularly.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Juliann Davison on January 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a college senior majoring in Mathematics Education, I needed to take a Math History class. I read two books that focus on the history of mathematics; one of those books was Math Through the Ages. I found this book, especially in comparison with the other book, Journey Through Genius, to be disjointed, redundant and vague. The first part of the book reads like a typical math history book and the second part repeats the information given in the first part but reads more like a textbook, including questions and projects that pertain, loosely, to the information offered in each section. I found that the questions were often irrelevant for anyone not specifically majoring in Math history, which is fine for a history book... unless that book claims to be great for students of math education. Also, I felt that the questions and projects asked more from the student than the book gave to the student. It is one thing for the projects to expect extra research, but the point of a book is to give you the knowledge you need, especially to answer its end-of-section questions, not just pose more questions than it answers. Really, if you want a better understanding of Mathematics and its history, check out Journey Through Genius. It reads better and offers more detail in explaining concepts that pertain to today's mathematicians.
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