This is a gentle introduction to curves and more specifically algebraic curves. We look at historical aspects of curves, going back to the ancient Greeks, then on the 17th century work of Descartes. We point out some of the difficulties with Jordan's notion of curve, and move to the polynumber approach to algebraic curves.The aim is to set the stage to generalize the algebraic calculus of the previous few lectures to algebraic curves.This lecture is part of the MathFoundations series, which tries to lay out proper foundations for mathematics, and will not shy away from discussing the serious logical difficulties entwined in modern pure mathematics.
Does mathematics make logical sense? No, it does not. Foundational issues have been finessed by modern mathematicians, and this series aims to turn things around. And it will have interesting things to say also about mathematics education---especially at the primary and high school level. The plan is to start right from the beginning, and to define all the really important concepts of basic mathematics without any waffling or appeals to authority. Roughly we discuss first arithmetic, then geometry, then algebra, then analysis, then set theory. This course is aimed for a general audience, interested in mathematics, or willing to learn.