The History of Mathematics

Maths in the Victorian Classroom

Stage: 2 and 3

What was it like to learn maths at school in the Victorian period? We visited the British Schools Museum in Hitchin to find out.

From A Random World to a Rational Universe

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

In the time before the mathematical idea of randomness was discovered, people thought that everything that happened was part of the will of supernatural beings. So have things changed?

A Brief History of Time Measurement

Stage: 2, 3, 4 and 5

Noticing the regular movement of the Sun and the stars has led to a desire to measure time. This article for teachers and learners looks at the history of man's need to measure things.

The Dangerous Ratio

Stage: 3

This article for pupils and teachers looks at a number that even the great mathematician, Pythagoras, found terrifying.

The Four Colour Theorem

Stage: 3 and 4

The Four Colour Conjecture was first stated just over 150 years ago, and finally proved conclusively in 1976. It is an outstanding example of how old ideas can be combined with new discoveries. prove a mathematical theorem.

The Development of Algebra - 1

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

This is the first of a two part series of articles on the history of Algebra from about 2000 BCE to about 1000 CE.

Women in Maths

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

Most stories about the history of maths seem to be about men. Here are some famous women who contributed to the development of modern maths and prepared the way for generations of female mathematicians.

The Development of Algebra - 2

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

This is the second article in a two part series on the history of Algebra from about 2000 BCE to about 1000 CE.

The History of Trigonometry- Part 1

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

The first of three articles on the History of Trigonometry. This takes us from the Egyptians to early work on trigonometry in China.

The History of Negative Numbers

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

This article -useful for teachers and learners - gives a short account of the history of negative numbers.

History of Trigonometry - Part 2

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

The second of three articles on the History of Trigonometry.

Ancient Astronomical Terms

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

Some explanations of basic terms and some phenomena discovered by ancient astronomers

History of Trigonometry - Part 3

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

The third of three articles on the History of Trigonometry.

Randomness and Brownian Motion

Stage: 5

In Classical times the Pythagorean philosophers believed that all things were made up from a specific number of tiny indivisible particles called ‘monads’. Each object contained a different number of particles, and so they believed that ‘everything was number’.