History of Topology 
History of Topology
by UNSW / N.J. Wildberger
Video Lecture 23 of 32
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Date Added: January 19, 2015

Lecture Description

This video gives a brief introduction to Topology. The subject goes back to Euler (as do so many things in modern mathematics) with his discovery of the Euler characteristic of a polyhedron, although arguably Descartes had found something close to this in his analysis of curvature of a polyhedron. We introduce this via rational turn angles, a renormalization of angle where a full turn has the value one (very reasonable, and ought to be used more!!) The topological nature of the Euler characteristic was perhaps first understood by Poincare, and we sketch his argument for its invariance under continuous transformations.We discuss the sphere, torus, genus g surfaces and the classification of orientable, and non-orientable closed 2 dimensional surfaces, such as the Mobius band (which has a boundary) and the projective plane (which does not). The interest in these objects resulted from Riemann's work on surfaces associated to multi-valued functions in the setting of complex analysis. Finally we briefly mention the important notion of a simply connected space, and the Poincare conjecture, solved recently by G. Perelman. If you enjoy this subject, you may study it further by watching Prof. Wilderberg's lecture series on "Introduction to Algebraic Topology"

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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