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History of Mathematics

Image of the Plimpton 322 Babylonian Clay Tablet that contains lists of Pythagorean Triples (or Triads)Believe it, or not, the term mathematics has nothing to do with numbers, algebra, geometry, or anything like that!  It was a term that was first coined a little before 500 BC by the community that studied and lived with Pythagoras in their community at Croton in southern Italy.  They developed the term from the Greek word μάθημα (mathema) which meant subject of instruction.

The term mathematics, therefore, meant subjects of instruction … particularly those subjects dealing with patterns and nature.  Consequently, by the 16th Century, a scholar studying mathematics at university could expect to study music, astronomy, arithmetic, ballistics, fireworks, chemistry, geometry, the new cossick art (algebra), etc., all under the ‘umbrella’ of mathematics.  I am sure students in schools today would enjoy broadening their studies in this way!

Of course, the development of mathematics dates from much earlier.  From the time we assessed how much food we had, or whether someone had more than someone else, or whether we had sufficient to last for a period of time, we were using mathematical skills.  This page will be steadily populated with anecdotes/stories from the history of mathematics, accounts of some of the amazing people who contributed to our understanding of this art, introductions to some of the famous theorems/concepts upon which our understanding is based, and even some explanation of where our symbols came from!

Anecdotes

Biographies

Famous Theorems

Mathematical Symbols

Our daughter Angelina was home schooled and from the start did not like maths. Over the years I have battled through, trying 5 different programs along the way. Angelina was surviving but not enjoying the journey but, when it came to algebra, the future looked dim. A friend recommended Graeme to me as her three sons had been tutored by him. She could not recommend him more highly. My daughter has just finished year 12 maths and did very well, thanks to Graeme (that would be an understatement). Graeme has a love for his subject and a genuine interest in his students. Graeme seems to meets his students where they are and tailors the lessons to meet their individual needs and interests. Graeme not only explains concepts clearly, but we all found him an interesting, knowledgeable and humble man. We are extremely happy that Graeme was recommended to us. Now our daughter is looking forward to uni with a grateful heart. We also could not recommend Graeme more highly.
Angela K (parent, 2013)

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