History of Number Theory and Algebra in Asia 
History of Number Theory and Algebra in Asia
by UNSW / N.J. Wildberger
Video Lecture 8 of 32
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Date Added: January 19, 2015

Lecture Description

After the later Alexandrian mathematicians Ptolemy and Diophantus, Greek mathematics went into decline and the focus shifted eastward. This lecture discusses some aspects of Chinese, Indian and Arab mathematics, in particular the interest in number theory: Pell's equation, the Chinese remainder theorem, and algebra. Most crucial was the introduction of the Hindu-Arabic number system that we use today.We also discuss the influence of probably the most important problem of the mathematical sciences from a historical point of view: understanding the motion of the night sky, in particular the planets. This motivated work in trigonometry, particularly spherical trigonometry, of both Indian and Arab mathematicians.Prominent mathematicians whose work we discuss include Sun Zi, Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara I and II, al-Khwarizmi, al-Biruni and Omar Khayyam.

Course Index

Course Description

In this course, Prof. N.J. Wildberger from UNSW provides a great overview of the history of the development of mathematics. The course roughly follows John Stillwell's book 'Mathematics and its History' (Springer, 3rd ed)Starting with the ancient Greeks, we discuss Arab, Chinese and Hindu developments, polynomial equations and algebra, analytic and projective geometry, calculus and infinite series, number theory, mechanics and curves, complex numbers and algebra, differential geometry, topology and hyperbolic geometry.  This course is meant for a broad audience, not necessarily mathematics majors. All backgrounds are welcome to take the course and enjoy learning about the origins of mathematical ideas. Generally the emphasis will be on mathematical ideas and results, but largely without proofs, with a main eye on the historical flow of ideas. At UNSW, this is MATH3560 and GENS2005. NJ Wildberger is also the developer of Rational Trigonometry: a new and better way of learning and using trigonometry.


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