History of mathematics Essay | Homework Doer

history of mathematics essay

Math students are required to write the history of mathematics essay for their coursework. Below is an example of a history of math essays.

History of Mathematics Essay Example


Mathematics, the study of patterns and relationships based on counting, measuring, and describing geometric forms, developed from these foundational activities. Throughout its history, it has been more idealized and abstracted as it has dealt with logical reasoning and quantitative computation. Since the 17th century, mathematics has played a crucial supporting role in the quantitative parts of the physical sciences and technology. More recently, this function has expanded to include the biological sciences. Furthermore, these mathematical pillars give mathematicians a never-ending opportunity for introspection and new insights. One may spend much time contemplating the number system.

In many societies, mathematics has progressed well beyond counting because of the push provided by the necessities of practical occupations like business and agriculture. The most significant increases have occurred in civilizations that are both sophisticated enough to support such pursuits and leisurely enough to permit introspection and building upon the work of previous mathematicians. Every branch of mathematics, including Euclidean geometry, is a synthesis of theorems and principles that follow logically from those axioms (Bell, 2012). Concerns about the philosophical and logical foundations of mathematics boil down to checking whether the principle of a particular system guarantees the system’s completeness and consistency. This article provides a comprehensive overview of mathematical development from ancient times to the present.

Prehistoric mathematical sources

Understanding the nature of the sources is crucial while researching mathematical history. The surviving scribe-written papers provide the foundation for reconstructing the mathematics history in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. The number of records relating to Egyptian mathematics is few. However, they are all consistent, leaving little room for debate over whether or not this branch of study was generally simple and deeply grounded in practical concerns. However, several clay tablets exist for Mesopotamian mathematics, demonstrating mathematical accomplishments of a considerably greater magnitude than those of the Egyptians (Merzbach & Boyer, 2011). These tablets prove that the Mesopotamians possessed a deep understanding of mathematics, but they do not provide any proof that this understanding was formalized into a logical system. Before Alexander the Great, we have no surviving Greek mathematical texts beyond fragmentary paraphrases. Even after his reign, it is essential to remember that the earliest surviving copies of Euclid’s Elements may be found in Byzantine manuscripts from the 10th century.

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Mathematics development in the 17th and 18th centuries

Deep and accurate insights into the workings of the natural world were made possible by mathematical developments in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), an English mathematician and physicist, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, a German mathematician working independently, devised a set of mathematical procedures known as calculus in the latter decades of the seventeenth century (Van Bendegem, 2014). Despite its incompleteness as a logical system, calculus gained widespread usage and made essential discoveries in various branches of mathematics, physics, and astronomy. Calculus was developed as a tool for describing a clockwork world, which lent credence to the Western religious notion of a static, unchanging God who dominated the cosmos by mechanical principles.

In the eighteenth century, mathematicians and physicists came to see mathematics, particularly calculus, as an increasingly potent collection of analytic procedures that might be used to describe the physical world. Increased precision in describing and studying the physical world was made possible by developments in mathematical methodologies (Bell, 2012). As the needs of the nascent industrial revolution collided with the growth of empirical knowledge, the practical use of mathematics sometimes outstripped its theoretical foundation.

  Mathematics developments in the 20th and 21st centuries

In the beginning, everyone was using the axiomatic approach. Galois believed a group was a collection of functions acting on a particular field of complex numbers. Cayley gave the modern definition of an abstract group in 1857, but no one paid attention to him (Clark, 2012). It was not until about 1890 that it was generally accepted to introduce students to a topic by outlining the axioms of the structure they would be learning about; it was not until the work of Bourbaki around 1935 that this notion was given its entire shape.

The birth of logic and probability theory are two advancements that are more significant in this era. Since it was first thought that it probably could not be described consistently, despite its practicality in real-world circumstances, the field of probability theory is relatively new. However, things shifted once the definition of measure spaces sped things up. Probability was initially used in the fields of number theory and combinatory in the 1930s and 1940s, and it rapidly became the gold standard in those areas (Zengin, 2018). Computers do not have much of an effect. Like historians, many mathematicians rely on computers for research, writing, and communication. In other words, computers expand the relevance of mathematics to the actual world.


The brilliance of significant mathematical discoveries is not easy to grasp. Although the results of the efforts of numerous, often less skilled, mathematicians over a lengthy period, they are typically presented as singular strokes of genius. From our current level of knowledge and complexity, we look back on the development of mathematics. There is no way around it, but we may at least attempt to understand how ancient mathematicians’ worldview differs from our own. Modern mathematical education often makes it more challenging to appreciate the complexities of the past. The exponential development of the volume of data produced by science and industry, made possible by computers, is one of the most striking trends in mathematics. However, it is only one of many (Zengin, 2018). Other notable trends include the increasing importance and power of computers, the increasing application of mathematics to bioinformatics, and the increasing size of the subject itself.


Bell, E. T. (2012). The development of mathematics: Courier Corporation.

Clark, K. M. (2012). History of mathematics: Illuminating understanding of school mathematics concepts for prospective mathematics teachers. Educational Studies in     Mathematics81(1), 67–84. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10649-011-9361-y

Merzbach, U. C., & Boyer, C. B. (2011). A history of mathematics. John Wiley & Sons.

Struik, D. J. (2012). A concise history of mathematics. Courier Corporation.

Van Bendegem, J. P. (2014). The impact of the philosophy of mathematical practice on the philosophy of mathematics. Science after the practice turn in the philosophy, history, and social studies of science, 215-226. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315857985

Zengin, Y. (2018). Incorporating the dynamic mathematics software GeoGebra into a history of mathematics course. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and            Technology49(7), 1083–1098. https://doi.org/10.1080/0020739X.2018.1431850


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