MATH 629 History of Mathematics
Fall 2005

Professor: Dr. Sue Geller
Office: 128 Milner (MILN on the map)
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:30 am, or by appointment.
Phone: 979-845-7531
Fax: 979-845-6028

Welcome to the home page for Math 629 History of Mathematics for the Fall of 2005. These pages will continue to be under construction, so please check them regularly for any changes, especially in due dates and assignments.

This course will consist of reading assignments, problem assignments, a book report, and a term paper. You may find yourself challenged in new ways by the assignments, because some of the problems ask you to conjecture why something might have happened or how someone might have done something, given what they knew at the time. When answering such questions, please support your answers with evidence from the text or other sources. If using other sources, please give references.

Information Needed from you immediately


History of Mathematics: Brief Version by Victor J. Katz and published by Addison-Wesley click here to buy from the publisher. When I spoke with the publisher, I was told that, if you include that this is a course textbook at Texas A\&M University (the pop-up window requires you know the zip code is 77843), then three day UPS shipping is free. The book is also available at .

One type of discussion omitted by the text so as to make it brief is biographical material on the various mathematicians. Such material as well as other information is a web-published book Lectures on the History of Mathematics by Dr. Don Allen of Texas A&M University. It has many nice biographies of mathematicians. There will also be some links to other web sources. Many of the readings in Dr.~Allen's book are in .pdf format so you will need an Acrobat reader, which may be downloaded for free. There are two ways to access the supplimentary text, one with frames and the other with out:
Textbook without frames
Textbook with frames
I find the one with frames nicer to use but your browser may not support frames or you may have different preferences than I do.


Book Report

You are expected to write a book report on a history of mathematics topic. I encourage biographies of noted mathematicians. Also of great interest are books on a particular aspect of the history of mathematics such as

General subject and popular accounts are strongly discouraged. The key words here are scholarly with mathematical content.

Directions: The book report should be 5-10 double-spaced pages. It must be typed or word processed. It should emphasize the mathematical aspects of the subject.

I reserve the right to approve all titles. So, when you have selected a book please let me know - before you purchase it. One other important fact is that each student must select a different book. For some acceptible books see Book list.

Due dates:

  • The book must be chosen by you and approved by me by 3:00 pm CDT on 5 September.
  • The report is due by noon CDT on 12 October.

    Term Paper

    Due Dates:

  • The topic must be chosen by you and approved by me by 3:00 PM CDT on 12 September.
  • The term paper is due by noon CST on 9 December.


    Your final grade will be determined by your performance on the homework, book report, and term paper. Since some of the work is doing problems and writing essays, I think this course does not lend itself to numerical grades only. So some grades may be numerical and others letter grades. The final grade will be determined counting homework and the term paper as equal and the book report as half of each (or 200 points homework, 200 points term paper, 100 points book report, if we were working in points). The grading scheme is:

  • A: Did all or almost all of the work and did it well.
  • B: Did a large proportion of the work well or did almost all of the work but did some of it wrong or incompletely.
  • C: Did almost all the work but did it poorly or didn't do a lot of the required work.
  • F: Did very little or nothing.

    Late Work

    I realize that almost all of you are working and/or have families, so you have different constraints than students on campus. It is very helpful to me as well as useful for you to do each assignment on time. For example, I know from experience, as do many of you, that it is much harder to grade fairly when papers are graded at various times. Therefore, late work will not be accepted without prior arrangements, but reasonable excuses will be accepted as long as the priviledge is not abused. When arranging for late work, be prepared to tell me when you will get the work to me.


  • If you want to discuss a problem by voice (i.e. phone), please give me some times when you will be available, and I try to call you then. Otherwise you may call me at work at any time. I should always be in the office during my office hours.

  • All email correspondence must contain the course number in the subject heading so that I can easily distinguish it from spam and other types of correspondence.

  • Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated.

    Simply changing some words from a passage is still plagiarism unless you reference the source. There is an old quip "Stealing from one source is plagiarism, from many research." As with most quips, it is both true and false. To be true research there needs to be something from yourself in the essay/answer. The truth in the quip is that research is built on the results of many before us, but they need to be given the credit for their work for it to be morally, ethically, and legally correct. Also, simply copying an answer from someone is both cheating and plagiarism. Don't cheat nor plagiarize.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy Statement

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities, in Room 126 of the Koldus Building or call 845-1637.

  • Academic Integrity Statement

    "An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do." See the
    Honor Council Rules and Procedures for more information.


    Email Dr. Sue Geller
    Dr. Geller's Homepage
    Last update: 27 July, 2005