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Spring 2010 SME 430: History of Mathematics

Time and Location

Tuesdays, 4:10 PM - 7:00 PM

C214 Wells Hall


Aaron Brakoniecki Funda Gonulates

A721 Wells Hall A722 Wells Hall
Office Hours: By Appointment Office Hours: By Appointment


MTH 133 - Calculus II

MTH 301 - Foundations of Higher Mathematics

Goals of this course

This course combines two different educational subjects, history and mathematics. Each week, the
course will examine some artifacts from mathematics (whether they be subjects, theorems, or mathe-
maticians) and focus on the history of those artifacts. One goal of this course is to provide you with
information about, and the background behind, some of the major elements of mathematics. Another
goal is to provide a sense of continuity between these elements so that you will see how mathematics
has grown through history.


Grades will be based on points earned on assignments during the semester and on the final exam. You
may work together on assignments but you must each write you your own submission. Grades and
assignments will not be curved. The following point scheme will be used for the final determination of
your grade.

4.0 - 90% to 100% of total points earned

3.5 - 85% to 89.4% of total points earned
3.0 - 80% to 84.4% of total points earned
2.5 - 75% to 79.4% of total points earned
2.0 - 70% to 74.4% of total points earned
1.5 - 60% to 69.4% of total points earned
1.0 - 50% to 59.4% of total points earned
0.0 - <49.4% of total points earned

SME 430: History of Mathematics - Syllabus - Spring 2010 1

Spring 2010 SME 430: History of Mathematics

Homework (Due at the times indicated) - Homework will be assigned weekly. Homework will consist
of readings, math problems, and discussion topics. When the homework is assigned, it will be speci-
fied whether it is to be turned in electronically (via drop box on ANGEL) or on paper. 10 points each.

Biography Project (Due at the Start of Class) - During one week, a mathematician or a mathematical
thinker will be assigned to you (TBD). The biography should include their contributions/importance
to the field of mathematics and society and be approximately 1500 words. Citations must be in APA
format and include at least one non-internet source. (Wikipedia is not an appropriate source, but can
be used to locate one.) The finished biographies are to be submitted in .doc or .docx format to the
appropriate drop box on ANGEL using the naming scheme SubjectName_StudentName.doc (for ex-
ample, if Sue Smith wrote a biography on Issac Newton, the biography would be titled
IssacNewton_Smith.doc). At the start of class, you will give a 5-8 minute presentation of your
mathematician/mathematical thinker which must include a summary highlighting their main contri-
butions. 50 points (35 document, 15 presentation)

Timeline Project (Due at the Start of Class) - Our class will be keeping an running timeline using Mi-
crosoft Excel. Every week, a group of 3-4 students will be assigned to update the timeline with infor-
mation about major world history events from a given time period. The updated timeline is to be
posted to the appropriate dropbox on ANGEL. At the start of the class group will give a brief (no more
than 5 minutes) presentation discussing what information has been added. Every person in the group
must contribute. 15 points (10 document, 5 presentation)

History of Mathematics Portfolio (Due on announced weeks)- Portfolios will include activities com-
pleted in class, homework assignment returned back, the biography assignment you composed, the
timeline assignment your group wrote, reflections done for class, and a list of sources you find useful
for the class. Portfolios can either be done physically (in a folder/binder) or electronically (in a web-
site). The week before a folder check, it will be announced what we will be looking for during our
check the following week. 20 points per check

Participation Points - The course will include your contributions to class discussions and in-class ac-
tivities. 25 points

Final Project/Exam - There will be a final meeting during finals week (Tuesday, May 4th from
5:45pm-7:45pm). During the final project/exam you will utilize the materials from class and create a
product, which will be discussed later. 100 points.

SME 430: History of Mathematics - Syllabus - Spring 2010 2

Spring 2010 SME 430: History of Mathematics

Organization of Each Session:

1. Updates/Announcements
2. Biography Reports (if assigned)
3. Timeline Update
4. Seminar
5. Break
6. Activity


Attendance - Classroom presence and participation are essential for success in this course. Each stu-
dent is allowed two excused absences without penalty. For an excused absence, email the course in-
structors within 24 hours of the missed class. It is your responsibility to send an email “explaining”
your absence; we will not contact you regarding a single absence. Any absence beyond the first two
excused absences and any unexcused absence will each result in your final grade being lowered by a
half of a grade point.

Late work - You are responsible for turning in all assignments on time. All assignments, handwritten
and electronic, should be completed and submitted according to the guidelines listed above. Hand-
written (on-paper) assignments may be submitted by noon of the following day (beyond the deadline)
and will be accepted without penalty. These assignments may be slipped under office doors or put in
mailboxes; please alert the instructors accordingly. Electronically submitted assignments (e.g., via
ANGEL) may be submitted no later than 11:59p.m. on the due date without penalty. Assignments
submitted after these “grace periods” will have their final score reduced by half.

Academic Honesty - As noted on the web site of the Office of the Ombudsman and in other MSU
publications "The principles of truth and honesty are fundamental to the educational process and the
academic integrity of the University; therefore, no student shall:

• claim or submit the academic work of another as one’s own.

• procure, provide, accept or use any materials containing questions or answers to any exami-
nation or assignment without proper authorization.
• complete or attempt to complete any assignment or examination for another individual
without proper authorization.
• allow any examination or assignment to be completed for oneself, in part or in total, by an-
other without proper authorization.
• alter, tamper with, appropriate, destroy or otherwise interfere with the research, resources,
or other academic work of another person.
• fabricate or falsify data or results. ...

If any instance of academic dishonesty is discovered by an instructor, it is his or her responsibility to

take appropriate action.  Depending on his or her judgment of the particular case, he or she may give
a failing grade to the student on the assignment or for the course."

SME 430: History of Mathematics - Syllabus - Spring 2010 3

Spring 2010 SME 430: History of Mathematics

Required Texts

• Berlinghoff, W.P. and Gouvêa, F.O. Math through the ages: A gentle history for teachers and others. Farm-
ington, MA: Oxton House Publishers; 2002

Tentative Outline
01/12/10 Week 1 Arithmetic
01/19/10 Week 2 Arithmetic
01/26/10 Week 3 Arithmetic
02/02/10 Week 4 Arithmetic
02/09/10 Week 5 Geometry
02/16/10 Week 6 Geometry
02/23/10 Week 7 Geometry
03/02/10 Week 8 Geometry
03/16/10 Week 9 Algebra
03/23/10 Week 10 Algebra
03/30/10 Week 11 Algebra
04/06/10 Week 12 Calculus
04/13/10 Week 13 Calculus
04/20/10 Week 14 Probability & Statistics
04/27/10 Week 15 Pulling it All Together

Important Dates

01/11/10 - Monday - University Classes Begin

01/18/10 - Monday - Martin Luther King Day (University Open, Classes Cancelled)

02/04/10 - Thursday - End of Tuition Refund Period

03/03/10 - Wednesday - Middle of Semester

03/08/10-03/12/10 - Monday-Friday - Spring Break

04/30/10 - Friday - Last Day of Classes

05/03/10-05/07/10 - Monday-Friday - Final Exams

05/07/10-05/09/10 - Friday-Sunday - Commencements

SME 430: History of Mathematics - Syllabus - Spring 2010 4