The Grid template

History Paper

General Information:  The paper should be 8 to 12 typed pages. However, if you can say something interesting in fewer than 8 pages, that is fine, so long as you say everything that should be said. (Be aware that final determination will be made by those evaluating your work.) Diagrams and pictures are allowed (but are not required). If images do appear, they must be relevant to the topic. The papers should be written in a formal style, using proper grammar. There should be no slang expressions or contractions. The pronoun "I" should not appear (unless it is in a quote).

Sample Papers:  Examples of past papers can be found on the UCSD Mathematics Department homepage.

Groups:  The paper is a group project. Groups should consist of 3 or 4 people, but exceptions can be made for larger groups upon request. Smaller groups are allowed without a request. If you have an idea for a topic and would like to find other people interested in the same topic, use the "Search for Teammates!" tool in Piazza:

Be sure to include your chosen topic in the "About Me" section.

Due Dates:  Your paper is due Friday, May 22 (the end of Week 8). Your paper will be submitted through Ted. At this point, the peer review process will begin. (More on this later.) You will then have the option to turn in a revised paper on June 5 (the last day of classes). A revised paper must include a short description of the changes made and what issues the changes are intended to address.

If your paper is submitted late, a penalty in the form of a 5% grade deduction will be applied for each day after the deadline. (This penalty will be applied only to the paper itself, not to your final course grade.)

Turnitin and Academic Misconduct:  Your paper will be submitted through Ted, where we use an online "originality checking system" called Turnitin. Turnitin checks documents with text for potential plagiarism and reports matches with other student papers, institution papers, the internet, and periodicals. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense which can lead to severe sanctions. Learn more about academic integrity and the consequences of academic misconduct at UCSD by visiting the Academic Integrity Office website.

Topics:  The topic of your paper may be on any topic of your choice, but it must have something to do with the history of mathematics. It may be biographical or about a specific subject. Your topic does not have to be related to the topics or people discussed in class. If you are interested in a certain topic, but not sure if it is appropriate, you can ask your instructor or TA.

A comprehensive source for topics (including both subjects and people) can be found on the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive webpage:

References:  At least five references must be used and cited in your document. (Please be aware that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source, although it can be used to find acceptable sources.) At least one of your references must be a good primary or near primary source. Some examples of near primary sources are listed below:

  • Translations of Historical Works
  • The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus by A.B. Chace (editor). (Egyptian mathematics.)
  • Euclid's Elements by Heath.
  • The Medieval Latin Translation of the Data of Euclid by Shuntaro Ito.
  • The Works of Archimedes by Heath.
  • On Conic Sections Books I-III by Apollonius (author) and Taliaferro (translator).
  • Introduction to Arithmetic by Nicomachus.
  • The Algebra of Omar Khayyam by Daoud Kasir. (Islamic mathematics.)
  • The Book on Games of Chance by Jerome Cardan (aka Cardano).
  • Euclid Vindicatus by Girolamo Saccheri. (Full title: Euclides ab omni naevo vindicatus, or Euclid Freed of Every Flaw.)
  • The Geometry by Rene Descartes.
  • Fleeting Footsteps: Tracing the Conception of Arithmetic and Algebra in Ancient China by Lam Lay Yong and Ang Tian Se. [Includes a complete translation of Sun Zi suanjing (The Mathematical Classic of Sun Zi).]
  • Collections of Historical Texts
  • The History of Mathematics: A Reader by John Fauvel and Jeremy Gray (editors).
  • The Treasury of Mathematics by H. O. Midonick.
  • A Source Book in Mathematics by D. E. Smith.
  • A Source Book in Mathematics: 1200-1800 by Dirk Struik.

The following texts are considered "general interest" and some might not count as "near primary sources".

  • Special Topics
  • Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem by S. Singh (1998).
  • Levels of Infinity: Selected Writings on Mathematics and Philosophy by H. Weyl (author) and P. Pesic (editor) (2013).
  • Biographies
  • Ada's Algorithm: How Lord Byron's Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age by J. Essinger (2014).
  • Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic by A.B. Feferman and S. Feferman (2008)
  • Alan Turing: The Enigma by A. Hodges (1983). (Basis for the film Imitation Game.)
  • Stefan Banach: Remarkable Life, Brilliant Mathematics by E. Jakimowicz and A. Miranowicz (2011).
  • Women in Mathematics by L. M. Osen (1975).
  • Who Is Alexander Grothendieck? by W. Scharlau (2011).
  • Emmy Noether: The Mother of Modern Algebra by M.B.W. Trent (2008).