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GGGGGGG000 $000 000SEMINAR SYLLABUS
HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS
Mathematical Systems
Winter 2010
Class Time: Wednesdays 10a-1p in Sem2 D3107
Texts: Dunhams Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics
Laubenbacher & Pengelleys Mathematical Expeditions: Chronicles by the Explorers
Seminar Description:
What is mathematics? Mathematicians seek deep truths about a formal world that may or may not have much to do with the physical world we inhabit. How did that happen? That is, how did personkind's intellectual endeavors lead to current mathematical practice? In this quarter's seminar, we will read about and discuss how mathematics developed, sharing our own ideas and relevant experiences along the way as we work to understand just what it is that has traditionally been called Mathematics.
Student Facilitation:
Each student, along with one or (more likely) two others, will act as seminar facilitator for one seminar this quarter. As facilitators, it will be your job to guide the seminar; this may mean providing discussion questions or planning a structure for the seminar. It's up to you to help the class get the most out of the seminar and the week's reading. I'll be happy to meet with you to discuss your plan for your week's seminar if you like.
Structure of Seminar Time:
We have three hours per week for this subject. How that time is structured is mostly up to the facilitators, but in general we should have roughly two hours for seminar discussion and one solid hour for working on problems. Each week, I (Brian) will provide problems that are generally related to the weeks reading. There are also problems in Laubenbacher & Pengelley that you can work on.
Assignments:
Youll do four kinds of work for this quarters seminar:
Seminar Notes. In each week of the quarter, youll write at least 1 double-spaced page of writing related to the weeks assigned seminar reading. This writing (which need not be focused or polished, though it does need to be typed) should give you ready topics to bring up during seminar discussion. Youll hand this in in seminar each week.
Seminar Problems. Each week youll turn in one carefully written up problem chosen from the previous weeks in-class problems. Your write-ups will be evaluated for clarity, thoroughness, and correctness, as well as for the difficulty of the problems you select.
Seminar Papers. Youll write two 3-page (or longer) papers about the History of Mathematics. One of these must be turned in by the end of Week 6, and the other must be turned in by the end of Week 9. Each paper must make significant use of and be intelligently informed by both seminar texts (possibly in addition to other sources), must have a clearly identifiable topic, and must have a clearly identifiable thesis that you stay focused on throughout the paper. Your papers should demonstrate not only that you have done the assigned reading but that you have assimilated it and are deeply engaged in the topics you choose to write about. I (Brian) will read your papers with attention to the issues listed in the Seminar Paper Evaluation Rubric (below).
Presentation. You will be required to research a topic (of your choosing) from the history of math and give a 10-15 minute presentation on it during Week 9 or 10. Your goal for the presentation should be to give your classmates a useful introduction to your topic. You are also required to submit a short report summarizing your research (including references) and the content of your presentation. You have considerable leeway in choosing your topic; I encourage you to pick something that you find particularly interesting. Here are some ideas:
Choose a subject in math that we haven't studied and describe/discuss its development from a historical perspective
Choose an important theorem or problem and discuss its history/proof/solution
Choose a mathematician or group of mathematicians and describe/discuss her/his/their work
Seminar Paper Evaluation Rubric:
Does the paper have a useful title?
Does the paper clearly state a significant and interesting thesis?
Is the thesis strongly supported with properly cited quotes and/or other strong evidence from the text?
Is there sufficient clarification or explanation of ideas?
Is it well organized? Does the paper have a logical flow with smooth transitions between ideas?
Are the mechanics error-free (i.e. correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization)?
Portfolio:
You are expected to include your seminar papers, your seminar problems, your seminar notes, and your presentation report in your final portfolio. You may also choose to include other relevant materials, such as your notes on the readings.
Attendance:
You are expected to attend all class meetings. Attendance in seminar is particularly important, since the seminar experience is a creation of the whole class. Everybody misses out when you miss seminar! If you miss more than a third of the seminars, youll lose credit.
Credit:
If you attend all class meetings, turn in all work (seminar notes, seminar problems, seminar papers, presentation report) on time, and submit a complete portfolio, then you will earn seminar credit. Your evaluation will reflect the quality of your written work and your presentation, your participation in and contributions to seminar discussions, and your groups facilitation of seminar.
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