SYLLABUS                Math 417             History of Math          Spring 2018

Professor Shields    
Office: 4 Greenway, Room 302
Office Hours: Tuesday 1-2, Thursday 12:30-1:30 or by appointment

Phone:  953-5919

Course Description
The primary focus of this course is to learn some portion of the history of mathematics, paying particular attention to the strands that let to developments that are important to today’s mathematics.  While we will be learning the history of mathematics, our primary focus will be on the mathematics itself.



Course Student Learning Outcomes: 

1.  Demonstrate knowledge of the historical development of number systems, algebra,

geometry, trigonometry, statistics and probability, number theory, discrete math and calculus.

2.  Understand the contributions of diverse cultures to these developments.



Text: The History of Mathematics - An Introduction (sixth edition), David M. Burton, McGraw-Hill, New York 2007.

Grades will be determined on the following basis:

                   3 mini exams (average counts as 70% of final grade)
                   Final presentation (counts as 20% of final grade)

      Portfolio (counts as 10% of final grade)

                90% guarantees A
                80% guarantees B
                70% guarantees C
                60% guarantees D

Final presentation: Your will be required to give a final presentation in which investigate the historical development of some topic in contemporary mathematics that was not covered in class.  The presentation should include interesting mathematics, how these ideas developed historically, including the contributions of individuals and diverse cultures. You can choose the topic you present, but must have it pre-approved.

Your presentation should have a written component (handouts consisting of notes to accompany your talk are expected) as well as a verbal one. The presentation should be in Power Point and should take approximately 40 minutes.  You will receive a grade on a scale of 1-5 in each of the following categories:  Preparation (were you well-prepared?), clarity to audience (how well did you explain the material?), knowledge (how well did you understand your topic?) and mathematical content (both breadth and depth will be considered here).  So the total number of points possible will be 20.


Assigned readings:  You will be given regular reading assignments.  You are required to take notes on these readings which demonstrate a thorough understanding of the historical development of certain mathematical domains.  These notes should include contributions of significant figures and cultures.


The portfolio will consist of your class notes and your notes on assigned readings.

Attendance: Students are responsible for all material presented in class, so it is in your best interest to attend.  Help during office hours is available only to those who either attended the class in which the material was presented or whose absence is excused by the Absence Memo Office at 67 George Street.

Students with disabilities: The College will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Students should apply at the Center for Disability Services/SNAP, located on the first floor of the Lightsey Center, Suite 104.  Students approved for accommodations are responsible for notifying the instructor as soon as possible and for contacting the instructor at least one week before any accommodation is needed. 


Academic Integrity Statement: The Honor Code at the College of Charleston specifically forbids cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism.  Cases of suspected academic dishonesty will be reported directly to the Dean of Students.  A student found responsible for academic dishonesty will receive a XF in the course, indicating failure of the course due to academic dishonesty.  This grade will appear on the student’s transcript for two years after which the student may petition for the X to be expunged.  The student may also be placed on disciplinary probation, suspended (temporary removal) or expelled (permanent removal) from the College by the Honor Board.


It is important for students to remember that unauthorized collaborations—working together without permission—is a form of cheating.  Unless a professor specifies that students can work together on an assignment and/or test, no collaboration is permitted.  Other forms of cheating include possessing or using an unauthorized study aid (such as a PDA), copying from another’s exam, fabricating data, and giving unauthorized assistance.