Spring 2017: MTH 300W

History of Mathematics

Basic Information
Lectures: TR 9:40–10:55am in Hylan 201
Instructor: Mark Herman
E-mail: mherman4 at ur dot rochester dot edu
Office: Hylan 808
Office Hours: Wed & Fri 11:00am-12:30pm


The History of Mathematics (7th edition) by David M. Burton

Course Description

This course surveys a broad history of mathematics starting from developments by the Egyptians and Mesopotamians through the development of calculus (and beyond depending on time). We will discuss various cultures’ approaches to mathematics throughout the western and non-western world and how mathematics has developed as a field.

For more information, see the course catalog.


Incomplete “I” grades are almost never given. The only justification is a documented serious medical problem or a genuine personal/family emergency. Falling behind in this course or problems with workload on other courses are not acceptable reasons.

Late Work Policy

ALL assignments are subject to the following:
Late assignments will incur a 10% penalty per day late. More specifically, an assignment turned in after the due time, but less than 24 hours after the due time, will be reduced by 10% of the whole (for example if the assignment is out of 50 points, it would incur a 5 point penalty). An assignment turned in between 24 and 48 hours after the due time will be reduced by 20%, and so on. In addition, assignments will not be accepted more than one week following the due time.

Final Exam

There will be a final exam worth 30% of your grade:
Thursday, May 11, 4:00-7:00pm, location TBA


Homework is worth 25% of your grade and will be assigned almost weekly, see the homework schedule for assignments and due dates. You must abide by the following homework rules:


You will write two papers throughout the semester, worth a total of 45% of your grade, each paper weighted equally. One, due in the middle of the semester, will be on a specific mathematical topic or concept and how several different cultures studied it and understood it. The other, due toward the end of the semester, will be biography of a mathematician of your choice and his or her mathematical contributions.

You will be expected to turn in a proposal and drafts of your papers along the way. The late work policy applies to all deadlines (proposal, first draft, final draft) and the penalty will be incurred on the final paper grade.

Ancient Mathematics/Trajectory Assignment
Proposal Due: February 14 by 12pm (808 Hylan).
First Submission Due: February 28 by 12pm (808 Hylan).
Final Submission Due: March 9 by 12pm (808 Hylan).
Note: You must submit your first draft and suggested revisions with your final draft.

Biography of a Mathematician Paper Assignment
Proposal Due: April 4 by 12pm (808 Hylan).
First Submission Due: April 18 by 12pm (808 Hylan).
Final Submission Due: April 27 by 12pm (808 Hylan).
Note: You must submit your first draft and suggested revisions with your final draft.

You are expected to typeset your papers in LaTeX in order to present a polished final product. A template and links to instructive websites on LaTeX are posted below.

Getting LaTeX:

Helpful websites for LaTeX:

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Google or on one of these sites, feel free to email me with questions!

Disability Support

If you have an academic need related to a disability, arrangements can be made to accommodate most needs. For information, please contact the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. To be granted alternate testing accommodations, you (the student) must fill out forms with CETL at least seven days before each and every exam. These forms are not sent automatically. Instructors are not responsible for requesting alternative testing accommodations at CETL, and they are not obligated to make any accommodations on their own.

Academic Integrity Statement

All assignments and activities associated with this course must be performed in accordance with the University of Rochester’s Academic Honesty Policy. Any violation of academic integrity will be pursued according to the specified procedures. See the homework section above for specific rules regarding collaboration.