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Sunday, 17 April 2016


The Ancient Babylonians did mathematics in base 60, rather than base 10 as in the metric system. This gave us 60 seconds in a minute, 360 degrees in a circle, etc.

The Plimpton 322 clay tablet from ancient Babylon  confounded mathematicians when it was revealed that it’s markings were complex calculations made 2,000 years before Pythagoras tackled the problems.

3rd century BC Greek mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria wrote a series of thirteen books called Arithmatica (six surviving), which are still considered crucial for defining modern algebra. The books included over 150 algebra problems that Diophantus solved.

Hypatia, an early 5th century Alexandrian, was the first woman to teach mathematics—unfortunately, a mob of Christian zealots killed her.

The Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (c. 1170 – c. 1250) popularized the Hindu–Arabic 0-9 numeral system and place value to the Western World primarily through his composition in 1202 of Liber Abaci (Book of Calculation). The book showed the practical use and value of the new Arabic numeral system by applying the numerals to commercial bookkeeping, converting weights and measures, calculation of interest, money-changing, and other applications. Liber Abaci was well received throughout educated Europe and had a profound impact on European thought.

Leonardo Fibonacci, the 

In late medieval Europe the symbols (P (with line p̄) was used for plus, and M (with line m̄) for  minus.)  The "+" & "-" wase first used in Johannes Widmann's 1489 German treatise Behende und hüpsche Rechenung auff allen Kauffmanschafft  (Nimble and neat calculation in all trades) when he referred to the symbols − and + as minus and mer.

The equal sign ("=") was invented in 1557 by Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "no two things can be more equal."

Recorde first used the equal sign in his 1557 book The Whetstone of Witte. The work is also notable for being the first book in English to use the plus and minus signs

The passage in The Whetstone of Witte introducing the equals sign

The invention of logarithms as an aid to calculation is attributed to a Scottish nobleman named John Napier (1550- April 4, 1617) .

Though Napier is also credited with creating one of the earliest calculating machines, known as 'Napier's Bones', and with popularizing the use of the decimal point, he only considered his mathematical studies to be a mere hobby. A fervent Protestant, he regarded his book The Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John (1593), an explanatory work on the Book of Revelation, to be his most important contribution to society.

John Napier

Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica contained a simple calculation error that went unnoticed for 300 years. A college student found it.

The Greek letter pi was introduced in 1706 for the ratio of a circle's perimeter to its diameter by the Welsh mathematician William Jones (1675-1749). He chose the Greek for p as it was the first letter of "periphery" or "perimeter" which were the words then used for circumference.

Fermat’s Last Theorem is a mind-blowing mathematical conundrum dreamed up by Pierre de Fermat in 1637. The French mathematician wrote in the margin of his work he’d proved it himself — but didn’t bother to note how.

It took 358 years before Fermat’s Last Theorem was finally proved. In 1994 British mathematician Andrews Wiles solved the conundrum.

Futurama writer Ken Keeler (who holds a PhD in applied mathematics), created a mathematical theorem just for the purpose of using it in a Futurama episode to expose young people to higher level math.

Americans call mathematics 'math', saying that the function of the same is a singular noun and with that logic, they prefer saying 'math', which is singular too. On the other hand, speakers of British English would always say the plural 'maths'.

“Math anxiety" is a condition that causes people to perform poorly in mathematics. Scans have revealed that the area of the brain that is triggered when someone has math anxiety overlaps the same area of the brain where bodily harm is registered.

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