The History Of Mathematics Why It Really Matters
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The History Of Mathematics Why It Really Matters

By Kara M.

the-history-of-mathematics

The history of mathematics is based on mathematics as a philosophy. In ancient history of mathematics, Pythagoras, a Greek mathematician, believed to have live from 570 to 495 BC, is often referred to as the “Father of Mathematics.” His followers, unlike other Greek philosophers of the times, studied and helped advance mathematics. Mathematical documents that followed were Plimpton 322, Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and Moscow Mathematical Papyrus, all based on Pythagorean Theorem.

Why Does the History of Mathematics Matter?
Although some mathematicians are wary of teaching the history of mathematics, in order to understand basic mathematical theorem, it is beneficial to study the earliest forms of mathematics. Certain mathematicians believe teaching the history of mathematics confuses their students’ ability to resolve complex mathematical problems by infusing mathematical philosophy into methods used to solve mathematical equations. The history of mathematics matters for the simple reason that to ignore mathematical philosophy is to regard mathematics as a vacuous form of robotic problem solving.

Historical Virtues Imbued within Mathematics
In Greek and Egyptian history, mathematics was mainly the subject of groups who inspired questions and answers to theories related to mathematics. For example, Pythagoreans contributed to Euclidian geometry by contemplating the theory that square of a hypotenuse (the longest side of a right triangle opposite the right angle) are equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides of the triangle. It is clear mathematical philosophers in history were deeply embedded in pedagogy. It is also interesting to look at history through a mathematical lens. According to this Ted Talk by Jean-Baptiste Michel he discusses that you can use mathematics to discuss and study history. Mathematics definitely has a huge impact on everything in the world, especially our past.

Note that in pedagogy as in many mathematical equations, there are five principles:

  • Direction of activity
  • Motivation
  • Criticism
  • Exposition
  • Inviting imitation

Without a background in the history of mathematics and an understanding of why it really matters, it would be easy to reduce mathematics to a robotic mental exercise. In all mathematical history, knowing “why” there is mathematical complexity is as important as knowing how to resolve it.

The more knowledge gained through studies of mathematical history individuals possess, the more likely their sense of motivation, direction of activity and exposition will be. Countering their basic mathematical philosophy encourages criticism and invites imitation of the ardent desire to solve complex mathematical problems. This knowledge is found most often in history masters programs and other courses in history/mathematics.

Modern mathematical history is not without its most significant mathematicians. John Forbes Nash, Jr., a two time Nobel Winner for Economic Sciences and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society, was a significant ground breaker in real algebraic geometry. World class mathematicians and economic experts have relied on Professor Nash’s mathematical theories and his contributions to the history of mathematics.

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