Historical Timeline Assignment

You may work alone or with one other person. Provide as complete as possible a listing of the major discoveries or ideas in the mathematical topic you've had approved by message on ASULearn and present the listing in an attractive display. A maximum of three pages will be allowed so that someone else can quickly read your timeline and obtain a basic understanding of the events. The result should be an in depth exploration of the important and interesting events in the history of a specific topic as related to geometry - not the entire history. You should use many different sources (to try to get as much information as possible) and submit a bibliography of all of the sources you used in the timeline. Your grade will reflect your effort, the quality of your references and timeline and your display and presentation. Be sure to include recent information or applications related to your topic as well as contributions from diverse cultures and civilizations. Approximate dates can be noted as ~ or a range of dates can be listed.

1) Turn in an electronic version of your timeline and references in Adobe acrobat pdf format to the personal storage space on ASULearn. On a Mac you can print to a pdf file. https://www.pdfonline.com/convert_pdf.asp also converts files to pdf. I will make your pdf publicly available.

2) Bring a printed version to class to post on the wall [I will bring tape].

3) We will divide up the class into two sessions (half the class will be next to the timeline as the other half examines them, and then we will switch roles). During your session, you must stand by your timeline to chat and answer questions. If you work with another person, they will be in the other session.

Here is a sample timeline from another class, which incorporates pictures of the related mathematicians.


History of axiomatic systems
History of conic sections
History of coordinate geometry
History of geometric constructions
History of longitude
History of measurement
History of parallel postulate
History of pi
History of Pythagorean theorem
History of regular polyhedra
History of regular polygons
History of similarity
History of surfaces
History of tessellations
History of visualization

Your topic will be approved on a first-come-first-served basis as a message to me on ASULearn. There is a maximum of 2 people per topic (you can work individually or together). Other topics may be approved if they relate to course topics and have a rich history.

References and Suggestions

Library books or books in my office contain a wealth of historical information. The CD entitled "Historical Modules for the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics" (Katz and Michalowicz, 2004) contains many modules of historical content and is also available for you to look at in my office hours.

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 such as the Klein bottle. Other pages, such as Wikipedia's History of geometry can also be useful.

Some topic searches may yield many unrelated pages or be too general a search - for example, surfaces means many different things in real-life. However, modifying a search for information related to specific surfaces like the Klein bottle, torus, cylinder, often results in history within those pages. The "history of spherical geometry" will often yield information on the history of the sphere.

Similarly, the history of similarity might be too general a search. A modified search such as the history of "similar triangles" can be more productive and it leads to a mathematics history journal article Proportionality in Similar Triangles: A Cross-Cultural Comparison

As always, I is happy to help in office hours or on ASULearn.