Course on Mathematics in Perspective at IIT Bombay [Sept 18-22]: Register by Sept 10: Expired

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A study of the evolution of mathematical concepts is one of the most engaging and fascinating topics, as it is tantamount to the study of some of the finest intellectual achievements of the entire humanity. This course surveys the history of mathematics from the emergence of counting to the flourishing of calculus in select Eurasian cultures of inquiry, giving a glimpse of the challenges and crises that mathematicians have faced throughout history and the ways in which they tackled and resolved them.
The various mathematical tools that are employed today in different branches of knowledge are indeed an outcome of the combined efforts of mathematicians of different “civilizations” over several millennia. The course aims to highlight the various trajectories, adopted by mathematicians inter-culturally and diachronically, of the development of mathematical thought.
It also balances an examination of the technical aspects of primary source material with various anthropological and archaeological approaches to get an idea of how the practice of mathematics is deeply connected with culture.

Course Outline
  • Ancient Near East: From cuneiform to counting. Mathematical artifacts.
  • Introduction to sexagesimal mathematics.
  • Multiplication tables. Reciprocal tables.
  • Tutorial: How to read mathematical texts on cuneiform tablets
  • LECTURE TWO: Ancient Near East: Old Babylonian mathematics. Evidence of Supra-utilitarian mathematics, Plimpton 322, Square-root of 2. Solving quadratic equations.
  • Tutorial: Reading `rough work’ cuneiform tablets. Solving quadratics geometrically using cut-and-paste algebra.
  • LECTURE THREE: Ancient Greece: The three great geometrical problems, squaring the circle, doubling the cube, trisecting the angle. Incommensurability.
  • Notions of the infinite. Tutorial: Plato’s Meno: A dialogue exploring mathematical knowledge and inquiry
  • LECTURE FOUR: Ancient Greece: Axiomatic foundations of Euclid’s `Elements’. Deductive reasoning. The geometrical algebra debate.
  • Tutorial: Constructing the lettered diagram.
  • The Euclidean proposition and the role of construction in a mathematical proof.
  • LECTURE FIVE: India: Śulbasūtras, Place-value base ten system of numeration.
  • Excerpts from the works of Āryabhaṭa, Mahāvīra, Śrīpati, and Bhāskara
Course Fee
  • Academia (College teachers only): INR 5900
  • Overseas / Foreign National: INR 35000
  • Student (Full Time): INR 3000

To register online, click here.
The last date to register is September 10, 2019.

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