Do you think that mathematics is balancing your checkbook? Or perhaps factoring horrendous polynomials in high-school algebra courses? Do you find yourself freely admitting to anyone who will listen that you don't like mathematics and never were good at it? Then this may be the seminar for you.
Despite having been exposed to mathematics for 12 years of elementary and secondary school, it's likely you have not met the subject mathematicians truly know as mathematics. The goals of this seminar are to introduce students to mathematics, to build an understanding of the processes of mathematics, and to convey some understanding of basic topics in mathematics. The emphasis is on talking and writing about mathematics rather than doing mathematics.
In this seminar, we address such questions as what mathematicians do, how they do it, what mathematicians are and are not, why mathematics works, aesthetics in mathematics, patterns and order in mathematics, algorithmic and dialectic mathematics, and abstraction and generalization. With an idea of what mathematics is about, we then tackle some mathematical issues. As in art and music courses, we study several significant works of mathematics, their mathematician creators, and the periods during which the works were created. By looking at the mathematicians and their lives in addition to their works, we see that mathematics is not a dead subject which was wrapped up centuries ago. On the contrary, it is alive, healthy, and, like other disciplines, subject to the whims of human nature.
Following are a few particulars about this course. Unlike a regular mathematics course, there is no set body of material which needs to be covered. We are thus free to explore ideas as they arise and according to our interests.
OFFICE AND OFFICE HOURS:
TELEPHONE NUMBER AND E-MAIL:
BOOKS AND READINGS:
We will draw from several sources. Our basic readings include:
ASSIGNED READINGS, HOMEWORK, AND PAPERS: