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The Story of Maths

History|05 Nov, 2012|5 Comments |
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Four-part series on the history of mathematics, presented by Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy.

In the first episode, the language of the universe, after showing how mathematics is fundamental to our lives, du Sautoy explores the mathematics of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. In Egypt, discloses the use of a decimal system based on the ten fingers, whereas in the former Mesopotamia he discovers that the way that the current time system based on the Babylonian Base 60 number. In Greece, is seen in the contributions of some of the giants of mathematics as Plato, Euclid, Archimedes and Pythagoras, who is credited with the beginning of the transformation of mathematics from a tool to count on the topic of discussion today we know .

The second episode, the genius of the Orient, du Sautoy looks out of the ancient world. When ancient Greece fell into decline, mathematical progress stagnated as Europe entered the Middle Ages, but in the East mathematics reached new heights. Du Sautoy visits China and explores how maths helped build imperial China and was at the center of such feats of engineering as the Great Wall. In India, he discovers how the symbol of the number zero was invented and Indian mathematicians ‘understanding’ of the new concepts of infinity and negative numbers. In the Middle East, which looks at the invention of the new language of algebra and the spread of knowledge from East to West through mathematicians such as Leonardo Fibonacci, creator of the Fibonacci series.

The frontiers of space. In the 17th century, Europe had taken over the Middle East as the world powerhouse of mathematical ideas. There was considerable progress in understanding the geometry of objects fixed in time and space. The race was now on to discover the mathematics to describe objects in motion. In the third part of the series, Marcus du Sautoy explores the work of René Descartes and Pierre de Fermat, whose famous Last Theorem of mathematical puzzles for over 350 years. It also examines the development of Isaac Newton’s calculus, and goes in search of Leonard Euler, the father of topology or “geometry articulated and Carl Friedrich Gauss, who, at age 24, was responsible for inventing a new way of handling equations: modular arithmetic.

The fourth episode, to infinity and beyond, concludes the series. After exploring Georg Cantor’s work on infinity and Henri Poincare’s work on chaos theory, discusses how mathematics was in chaos by the discoveries of Kurt Gödel, who demonstrated that the unknown is an integral part of mathematics, and Paul Cohen, who established that there are several different types of mathematics in which conflicting answers to the same question were possible. He concludes his trip taking into account the great unsolved problems of mathematics today, including the Riemann Hypothesis, a conjecture about the distribution of prime numbers. A prize of one million dollars and a place in the history books await anyone who can prove Riemann’s theorem.

The Story of Maths, 2.0 out of 5 based on 13 ratings
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