Math 160 - History of mathematics - Spring 2005

Reading assignments
Paper assignment
Groups for the paper

Instructor: Bjorn Poonen

Lectures: MWF 8-9am in 3 Evans Hall (NOTE: THIS IS A ROOM CHANGE!)

Course Control Number: 54957

Office: 879 Evans, e-mail: poonen@math

Office Hours: MWF 9:30-10:30am, or by appointment

Grader: Elena Fuchs, email:

Prerequisites: Math 53, 54, and 113, or permission of instructor. Familiarity with other upper-division math courses (such as Math 104) may be helpful.

Required Text: John Stillwell, Mathematics and its history, second edition, Springer, 2002.

Syllabus: This course will be an overview of mathematics as a whole. It will focus on mathematical ideas, not the lives of the mathematicians. Most other upper-division courses offer a complete development of a particular subject, with all results proved, but because the list of topics for this course is so broad, we will omit many proofs and instead focus on the statements of the results and their interrelations. For specifics about the topics to be covered, see the table of contents of the text. We will cover most of the book. The text's "biographical notes" will not be covered in class, though you are welcome to read them on your own (they are interesting).

Course Webpage:

Exams: There will be one midterm in class on Friday, February 25, and a 3-hour final exam Friday May 13, 8-11am.
Midterm solutions

Grading: 35% homework, 15% midterm, 15% paper, 35% final. Each homework grade below the weighted average of your final, midterm, and paper grades will be boosted up to that average. The course grade will be curved. Click here for an example.

Homework: There will be weekly assignments posted on the web and due at the beginning of class each Wednesday. Late homework will not be accepted, but see the grading policy. You should not expect to be able to solve every single problem on your own; instead you are encouraged to discuss questions with each other or to come to office hours for help. If you meet with a study group, please think about the problems in advance and try to do as many as you can on your own before meeting. After discussion with others, write-ups must be done separately. (In practice, this means that you should not be looking at other students' solutions as you write your own.) Write in complete sentences whenever reasonable. Staple loose sheets!

Other: If you need disability-related accommodations in this class, if you have emergency medical information you wish to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform me immediately. Please see me privately after class or in my office.