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Learning math from a historical perspective?

  1. Sep 6, 2011 #1
    I am interested in learning math from a historical perspective. Starting with euclid and working myself up to descartes. I am thinking of a reading list to use and this is what I think I will use. I have taken math classes all the way up to calc 2 so I am not an expert and I am doing this just as side project.

    1.Euclid Elements

    2.The works of archimedes

    3. Apollonious Conic sections

    4. Diophantus Arithmetica

    5. Fibbionaci Libri abbaci and his book on squares

    6.Ars Magna

    7. The geometry of Rene Descartes

    And obviously some book on trigonometry.

    The only thing is that while some of these books are cheap older historical books are difficult to find and may not be translated into english and I dislike reading books online I do not know why.

    What I need is a website to find old books.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2011 #2


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  4. Sep 6, 2011 #3
    You can also google "history of math course" and you'll find a couple universities which teach the course. Just scan through the different course webpages and I'm sure you can accumulate a pretty good list of whatever historical 'documents', or books, that you'd like to read.

    Note: if you really want to understand the historical readings, it's generally recommended that you know basic abstract algebra or real analysis, although it of course depends on the book you're reading. A basic understanding of math from the main fields should make you able to understand them at a better perspective.
  5. Sep 6, 2011 #4
    I liked the book "God created the integers" by Stephen Hawking. It tells you a bit about the person, then extracts from their best work translated into english. It has a bunch of the people you mentioned too.
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