Thoughts On
How and When Math Started

November, 1998

Suzanne Alejandre's mathematics students were assigned to explain their thoughts on how and when mathematics started. Here is a sample of their responses.

Melissa K.

I think math started when people started telling time. If there is no time than there would be no such thing as math. I also think that time started a long, long time ago.

Latoya M.

I think that math started with all of the people in the old days. They did not know how to count the money. So they started to make up numbers. That is why we have math.

Michelle H.

I think math started way back in the old days around the 1800's. It was started by some kind of a medicine man. They had to use math to know how much medicine to give to the patients. That's how math started and when math started.

Martise S.

I think mathematics was started in Eygpt when they were using a tool with beads. They used that tool for building pyramids and palaces for their kings. I don't know how they made the math tool but whoever made that up must have been very smart and clever.

Rimantas B.

Math was made up a long time ago. It was made up when someone began thinking. They found out how addition and subtraction worked. They also made up numbers. Later, they made up multiplication and division. Little by little more and more was found out and made up about math. Today, math is very important in our lives.

Jessica C.

Math started when somebody wanted to know what was two plus two. Math started when people wanted to know more about math. Math started when people got all together and started to do a plan. They came up with math and they first started by one plus one. Then they started one plus two and then they went on and on and on.

Vanessa M.

I really do not know how but it has something to do with the people that lived a long time ago. they discovered math when they had to count rocks and had to count other things.

Ronald B.

I think when math first started is when Adam and Eve and Adam's children had to count the sheep. They added their sheep and their friend's sheep together. They added it all together and it came up to 100 sheep. So Adam said that that was math to his friend. Adam explained it to his friend and then he got it.

David N.

I think math was started when a famous mathematician was born probably in 1730.

John M.

I think one day a man or woman was trying to find out what and how you do this. So, they both used their fingers and used them to count. So that is how there is math today.

Chris M.

I think math started when God created Adam and Eve because when he created Eve he said, "And may they multiply." Math had to start when he first started creating people because Noah had 2 of each animal on his ark and if they didn't have math, how would they know what "two" is?

Ismael S.

I don't really know when math started or on what date but I know that math started for me when I was in kindergarten. It started since then because they taught me numbers and stuff. The date of when it started was probably in July, 7 years ago and math is still my favorite subject.

Desmond W.

I think math started like in 1796 because everything else usually started then. I wonder who is the person who created math. Is the person a man or a woman? Math is also cool.

Kristy E.

I'm not sure how math was started but this is the way that I heard. A long time ago when the dinosaurs lived there was a cave man. He was very smart. He knew all the names of the dinosaurs. One day he started making these names. They were one, two, three, four, etc. He called the words numbers and then he explained the numbers to the other cave man and women. He taught all the humans to count using their fingers and their toes and that is how I heard math was started.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Home || The Math Library || Quick Reference || Search || Help 

© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.
Send comments to: Suzanne Alejandre