Pick a mathematical topic among those covered in the syllabus and
write about the mathematics and how the ideas involved evolved. So
your paper should have some mathematics, some history. You can
focus on the contribution of one person, or how different people’s ideas
complemented or conflicted with each other. Some possible names and
topics are listed below; if you have a different idea, get my approval. A
short paper will be due at the end of February. This will be expanded
to the long paper due in April.
The main objective of the course is to gain an understanding of the
discovery or invention of mathematical ideas through a historical review
of their evolution. Your paper should document all the facts you
use except for those that are general knowledge. To avoid unnecessary
footnotes, reference should be cited parenthetically in your text;
e.g., (Gauss(3), P. 56) or (, Page 56.) That is, you should include
both the reference AND the page. An effort should be made to find
good sources for your historical and mathematical comments. Original
sources are preferred but are often difficult to use. (Reading Isaac
Newton in the original Latin may not be easy!) However, try to avoid
excessive use of tertiary sources (e.g., textbooks).
Signs of a good paper include: good use of journal sources; a blend of
mathematics and history; clear explanations of mathematical concepts;
and a good writing style.
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