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Unit of study_

OLET2606: Origins of Mathematics

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.

Code OLET2606
Academic unit Mathematics and Statistics Academic Operations
Credit points 2
Assumed knowledge:
HSC Mathematics or equivalent and familiarity with basic scientific method

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Recount and explain the early history of mathematics (Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Islamic, and Medieval European).
  • LO2. Analyse how the modern scientific method is rooted in thousands of years of discovery by cultures that differ profoundly from ours.
  • LO3. Analyse how classical techniques - engineering, geometric constructions, axiomatic methods, notational conventions - are still applicable today, and how they set the stage for scientific thinking.
  • LO4. Read and synthesise material about elementary - pre-calculus - mathematics and its history