Historical periods: Mathematics in Babylon and Egypt, classical Greek mathematics, Arabian mathematics, European mathematics during the middle ages and the early modern period, European mathematics in the 19th century, Aspects of 20th-century mathematics up to the present.
Mathematics developments: The notion and notation of numbers, geometry, solving equations, functions, calculus and analysis, probability theory, abstract algebra, foundations (logic, set theory, philosophy of mathematics).
Historical methods: Different ways to read a historical (mathematical) text, questions informing the reading of a text (mathematical content, author, reader, style, tone, type of text — e.g. letter, textbook, article, commentary — language, typesetting/script), finding relevant and interesting topics of discussion based on one or more texts, finding relevant and high-quality sources supporting a discussion, structuring and formulating convincing arguments, both orally and in written form.
Analyses: Motivations to do mathematics, the mathematical profession through history, mathematicians’ social context, transmission of mathematical ideas, notation and its relevance, m,athematical disputes and their consequences, rigor, women in mathematics, the role of a mathematician as teacher and researcher, the institutions of mathematics (monasteries, schools, universities, research institutes, conferences; prizes and distinctions, competitions, grants), the reception of mathematics in popular culture.
Intended learning outcomes *
After completion of the course, a student will be able to:
express analyses and arguments around original mathematical texts orally and in written form in a structured and scientific way
ask relevant and creative historical questions
express own thoughts about societal aspects of mathematics such as the structure of society, politics, and gender, both in the past and the present
sketch the development through history of several mathematical ideas, mathematical subjects, and frameworks in which mathematics was done
sketch important contributions, biographies and the social context of several prominent historical mathematicians,
in order to give knowledge and skills to analyze and contextualize historical mathematical texts with respect to the development of mathematics through history, the mutual influences between mathematics and society, and to draw conclusions about the role and relevance of mathematics today.
Lectures, writing essays with feedback from the teacher and the peers, exercises, group work with original texts, discussions, role play.
Literature and preparations
Specific prerequisites *
Completed basic courses in SF1624 Linear Algebra, SF1625 Analysis in one variable and SF16256 Multivariable Calculus.
SF2717 Mathematics, Advanced Course and SF1610 Discrete Mathematics
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No required course book. Texts will be distributed in class. Recommended literature:
Jacqueline Stedall: Mathematics Emerging: A Sourcebook 1540–1900, Oxford University Press, 2008.
Benjamin Wardhaugh: How to Read Historical Mathematics, Princeton University Press, 2010.
Victor J. Katz, A History of Mathematics: An Introduction, Pearson, tredje upplaga 2009 eller A History of Mathematics: Brief Version, Pearson, första upplaga 2004.
Examination and completion
If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.
Grading scale *
A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
Grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.
The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.
The examiner decides, in consultation with KTHs Coordinator of students with disabilities (Funka), about any customized examination for students with documented, lasting disability. The examiner may allow another form of examination for re-examination of individual students.
Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination
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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination