Skip to main content
Unit of study_

Origins of Mathematics - OLET2606

Year - 2020

The roots of mathematical thought reach as far back as the beginnings of human history, and many of the foundational ideas behind the modern standards of proof and scientific inquiry were conceived thousands of years ago. This OLE is an introductory course in the history of mathematics and its applications in the development of modern civilisation. You will learn about number systems of early indigenous Australian societies and discover the arithmetic and applied mathematics of the ancient Egyptians that made the construction of their great works possible. You will explore ancient Greek mathematics, from Pythagoras to Euclid and Archimedes, and their role in the development of contemporary science. You will learn how the ancestors of today¿s numerals were conceived in India and made their way to Arab and Medieval European mathematics. You will study the Medieval mathematical understanding of the infinite. You will study primary source documents, such as the Ahmes and Moscow Papyri and Euclid¿s foundational work Elements and conduct further research on a topic of your choice. By completing this unit, you will develop quantitative reasoning skills, and enhance your ability to read mathematical and technical text. You will gain a deeper understanding of the methods of mathematics and science, and how historical ideas underpin modern mathematical thought and reasoning. In your final essay, you will explore a historical mathematical topic of your choosing and use your newly attained knowledge to also review and provide feedback on the essay of one of your peers.

online modules and 2 x 3-hr meetings

2 x online quizzes (35%), in-workshop quiz (15%), workshop active participation (10%), essay (45%), essay peer-review (5%)

Assumed knowledge
HSC Mathematics or equivalent and familiarity with basic scientific method


Faculty: Science

Intensive July

22 Jun 2020

Department/School: Mathematics and Statistics Academic Operations
Study Mode: Block mode
Census Date: 10 Jul 2020
Unit of study level: Intermediate
Credit points: 2.0
EFTSL: 0.042
Available for study abroad and exchange: Yes
Faculty/department permission required? No
Courses that offer this unit

Non-award/non-degree study If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student. Cross-institutional study If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to undertake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.