Final Project

If I have seen further it is only by standing on ye shoulders of giants.
[Isaac Newton in a Letter to Robert Hooke, dated 5 February 1675]

Einstein and Leisureguy's (Michael Han) grandson. Posted March 23, 2007.

Goals and Objectives: You will research a topic related to mathematics that you are interested in. Create an attractive and professional historical timeline that explores the interesting and important breakthroughs, real-life applications, and modern signficance - not the entire history. Be sure that the timeline is in your own words and includes important contributions from diverse scientists or mathematicians, as well as interesting pictures, and that the mathematical connections are clear, including names of mathematicians, equations, types of mathematical areas.... Approximate dates can be noted as ~1762 or by a range of dates, such as 1700-1800. A maximum of two-pages will be allowed. You may work with at most one other person.

In order to give you an idea of some possibilities, here are a couple of samples timelines: Leonardo Davinci's Mathematics and the The Mathematics, Science and Psychology of Video Games (from another class with somewhat different criteria).

Your research may take the form of topics in the book that we did not cover, further examination of something we did, or something else related to mathematics. I encourage you to be creative and find a topic that relates to mathematics that you are interested in. One possibility would be to explore the role that mathematics plays in your profession, with the historical timeline connected to the mathematics. Another possibility is to choose a mathematical topic, like the concept of zero, or a mathematician. I am happy to give you some suggestions of topics related to your personal interests.

Your final project will be graded based on the depth, clarity, professionalism, and creativity of the explanations and mathematical connections in

  1. your abstract (like a commercial or advertisement for your talk) presented orally in 1-2 minutes on our last day of class
  2. your timeline and presentation during the final exam day. Maximum of two pages.
  3. peer and self-evaluations that you will fill out that day
  4. an annotated bibliography list. Use many different types of sources, including scholarly references and library sources, as well as at least one book from the library or my office. Submit a separate annotated bibliography of all of the sources you used in the timeline, with annotations explaining how you used each reference in your timeline, where the pictures are originally from, whether the source is a scholarly reference, and how you obtained the reference (library, web, my office...) Use as many pages as you need for the annotated bibliography.

We will divide up the class into two research sessions. During your session, you must stand by your timeline and annotated bibliography (which will be taped to the wall) to answer questions (and your answers must demonstrate expertise of your topic). During the other session, you will talk to others about their projects and fill out peer review sheets. If you work on your project with someone else, you will each be in different research sessions.

As per the syllabus, participation in the final project is mandatory to pass the class.

References and Topic Suggestions

Books: Catalog searches on a topic or the history of a field, or books from the library or my office can provide a wealth of historical information.
More general searches can also result in interesting perspectives, such as:
  • A people's history of science : miners, midwives, and "low mechanicks". Conner, Clifford D., 1941- New York : Nation books, 2005.
    ASU MAIN STACKS Q125 .C58 2005
  • Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures. Dordrecht; Boston : Kluwer Academic, 1997. xxvii, 1117 p. : ill., col. map ; 30 cm.
  • Library Databases: The library database CQ Researcher presents a chronology for select topics and questions. Library databases such as Jstor or Academic Search Premier can also be helpful for mathematical searches.

    Websites: Websites such as the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive (O'Connor and Robertson, 2005) provide an extensive collection of articles on particular people and topics. The Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics (Miller, J, 2008) can provide history on the development as well as the first published appearance of terms. Wikipedia's history pages and Google scholar can also be useful.