Math 395 History of Mathematics Fall 2023

Prof.  Buckmire


Homework Students









History of Mathematics

The detailed syllabus for Fall 2023 History of Mathematics is available at

Ron Buckmire
~ 323-259-2536 ~ ron "at"

I am almost always in my office (Fowler 313) until at least 5pm.
My official office hours for Fall 2023 are
MTWRF 3-4pm.

Zoom link is:
Zoom room is 323 259 2536 code 235711

We will meet in Fowler 310, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30pm-2:55pm.


The History of Mathematics: A Source-Based Approach (Volume 1),
by June Barrow-Green, Jeremy Gray, and Robin Wilson. MAA Press, 2019. ISBN
•  The History of Mathematics: A Source-Based Approach (Volume 2),
by June Barrow-Green, Jeremy Gray, and Robin Wilson. MAA Press, 2022. ISBN
•  A History of Mathematics, 3rd edition by Carl B. Boyer and Uta
C. Mertzbach. Wiley, 2011. ISBN-13 978-0470525487.
A History of Mathematics, An Introduction, Third Edition by
Victor J. Katz Addison-Wesley, 2009. ISBN-13 978-0321387004.
An Introduction to the History of Mathematics, Sixth Edition by
Howard Eves. Cengage, 1990. ISBN-13 978-0030295584


This seminar course is a survey of selected topics from the history of mathematics. Through exposure and access to primary historical sources and other materials, students will gain deeper insights into mathematical concepts they have seen before, be introduced to new mathematical ideas, and learn about the development and developers of mathematics in the past and present. The primary objective of the course is for students to synthesize various mathematical ideas from fundamental and advanced mathematics courses as a capstone experience for the major. Students will complete a project about an advanced mathematical topic with presentations in written and oral form at the end of the course.
This course satisfies the Core Program Requirement: Pre-1800 (CPPE). Prerequisite: Any 300-level Mathematics course (may be taken concurrently) or permission of instructor.


The course is designed so that by eth eend of the course, students will

  • be exposed to the human side of mathematics and the people involved in the develop-
    ment of mathematical concepts.
  • appreciate the significant contributions and connections mathematics and mathemati-
    cians have with our culture.
  • receive an overview of a wide variety of mathematics topics, so students can see how
    various mathematics concepts and results are related to each other, and how and where
    important ideas come from.
  • improve their written and oral communication skills in the context of mathematics.
    • use primary sources to see the ways that various mathematical concepts were initially
    presented and contrast this with more modern approaches.
  • learn about contributions of female and non-western mathematicians to the mathemat-
    ics discipline.


The official Departmental student learning outcomes of this class are:

Outcome 2.1: Students will complete an individual or group project related to the content of an upper division mathematics course, and present the results of the project through a paper, poster, or talk.

Outcome 3.1: Students will write a clear and well-organized paper in the model of a scholarly paper in the field.

Outcome 3.2: Students will give a clear and well-organized presentation on a mathematical topic.

Outcome 5.1: Students are able to define and deploy important terms in multiple areas of advanced mathematics.

Outcome 5.2: Students are able to provide examples that illustrate important concepts found in multiple areas of advanced mathematics.

In order to enhance equity and agency for students, a number
of Oxy faculty (including myself) have begun implementing “alternative grading” policies.
In this class this involves providing students with the expectations and specification for what
the students need to do in order to receive a specific grade in the class. This “specifications
grading” process or “grade contract” means that although you will receive individualized
feedback on all assignments (typically meets expectations or ✓ and fails to meet expectations
or ×) your grade will not be computed as a percentage of the available points on individual
assignments or in the course as a whole.

The idea behind this approach is to try to separate the grade in a course from the learning
that occurs in the course. This does not mean that you will be doing less work or having
your work assessed less often. It means that as the student, you have more control over what
your final course grade is, because the terms are stated clearly in the grading contract (see
brief summary below; full details are in the detailed syllabus).

Informal Homework
12 or more  10 or more 8 or more 6 or more
Formal Homework Responses
3 or more  2 or more 1 or more None
Missed Class Sessions
Less than 2
Less than 4
Less than 6
Less than 10
Exam Score
Project: Written & Oral Presentation
Both Meet Submit Both &
1 Meet
Submit One &
Submit One