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Dr. Math FAQ:
3D and higher
Browse Middle School History/Biography
Stars indicate particularly interesting answers or
good places to begin browsing.
Selected answers to common questions:
About Roman numerals.
- Hebrew Mathematics [09/21/2000]
I need to write a one-page article on the Hebrew mathematics system.
- History and Origination of the Metric System [08/13/2005]
Who invented the metric system?
- History of Calculating Pi [05/20/1998]
How have the formulas for pi evolved throughout mathematical history?
- History of Circle Area Formula [03/19/2007]
Do we know who figured out that pi*r^2 gives the area of a circle?
- History of Exponent Notation [11/03/2003]
Why is the symbol for exponents a smaller number above the base? How
did it become this? What is the history of it?
- History of Fractions [12/7/1995]
How did the Babylonians, Ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, or Hindus
- History of Multiplication [4/18/1996]
I thought it would be interesting if my students found out how other
cultures did multiplication in earlier time periods.
- The History of Numbers and Numerals [12/08/1998]
Can you give me some information on the history of numbers? How were they
developed and where are they used?
- History of Numerals and Counting: Bibliography [11/18/1996]
Where do I find information on different systems of measurements?
- History of Numerals and Symbols [06/22/1998]
Why and when did the change from Roman to Hindo-Arabic numerals occur?
What is the history of +, -, =, /, etc.?
- History of Odd and Even Numbers [02/12/2004]
Who invented the names 'odd' and 'even' numbers? When did they first
start being used?
- The History of Pentominoes [10/22/1995]
I would like to know who "invented" or developed pentominoes and any
- History of Probability [04/07/1997]
Who first researched probability?
- History of Ratio and Proportion [12/28/2003]
Who discovered ratios and proportions? When did it happen?
- History of the Fraction Bar [09/01/2005]
What is the original name of the fraction bar? I know it is called the
vinculum, but was that the original name? If not, what was it
- History of the Mile [08/25/2002]
Why are there 5,280 feet in a mile?
- History of the Order of Operations [11/22/2000]
Can you give me some facts and conjectures about when, where, and why the
order of operations was established?
- History of the Radical Sign [04/17/1997]
Who invented the radical sign?
- History of the Word 'Exponent' [11/26/2003]
Who came up with the name 'exponent'?
- History of Writing Decimals and Number Lines [10/28/1998]
Why, on a number line, are the negative numbers are on the left? When you
deal with decimals, why are the whole numbers are on the left?
- History of Zero and Place Value [02/17/1999]
Where were zero and place value invented or discovered?
- History Reclaimed — and Discoveries Claimed [02/01/2015]
An adult laments how often we credit discoveries to the wrong people, citing the example of Baudhayana as the first historical figure to document the Pythagorean theorem. Doctor Ian separates mathematical discovery from adoption — and proof.
- How Can a Line Have Length? [04/14/1998]
If a Euclidean point has no length, how can a union of Euclidean points
form a Euclidean line segment with length?
- How Long is a Meter? a Second? [09/06/2001]
How is the length of a meter currently determined?
- How Pi Was Derived and Relates to Area of a Circle [03/04/1998]
Using inscribed and circumscribed polygons to derive Pi and circle area.
- How to Use a Chinese Abacus [06/24/2004]
An introduction to how the abacus works and examples of entering,
reading and adding numbers using it.
- Impossible Constructions [01/14/1998]
What are the three ancient impossible construction problems of Euclidean
- Incan Quipus [09/30/1999]
Information on the colored ropes the Incas used for counting.
- Invention of the Metric System [02/13/1997]
Who invented the metric system?
- John Napier [06/17/1998]
Why was John Napier's discovery of logarithms a great contribution to the
field of mathematics?
- John Venn and Venn Diagrams [09/04/1998]
Can you give me some information on John Venn and the origin of Venn
- K as an Abbreviation for Thousands [05/29/2002]
I was taught that 30K meant thirty thousand. Is that correct?
- Large Roman Numerals [08/15/1997]
Could you please convert 5000, 1,000,000, and 5,000,000 into Roman
- Lenore Blum [04/21/1997]
Where can I find information on Lenore Blum?
- Letters for Variables [11/19/2001]
Why do we use letters for variables?
- 'Log' Button [01/29/1998]
We have been using the 'log' button on our calculators to solve problems
involving compound interest. What does that button do?
- Ludolph van Ceulen and Pi [11/02/1998]
How did Ludolph van Ceulen estimate pi by inscribing and circumscribing a
circle with squares?
- Maria Agnesi [03/15/1997]
Where can I get information on Maria Agnesi? What is the Witch of Agnesi?
- Math and Music: Harmonic Series [01/09/1998]
Could you supply me with information on how math relates to music?
- Mathematics in Colonial America [11/10/1997]
I am at a loss at how to incorporate pragmatic mathematic lessons into an
early America lesson.