Teacher2Teacher Q&A #7205

Who invented math?

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From: Kimberley (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 01, 2001 at 22:04:15
Subject: Re: Who invented math?

Joseph, Your message makes it sound as though you have a list of a group of people, but I didn't see one included with your message. Nevertheless, the answer to "Who invented math?" is both very simple and very complex. At the simplest level, no one invented math. This is because math has many branches, or areas within it. You may have heard of algebra and geometry, but they just scratch the surface. There are also trigonometry, calculus, topology, number theory, probability, statistics,... Many of these are related to one another. You may study history in school but did you know there is also mathematics history? Most of the math you do in school was developed over long periods of time, during which mathematicians and others noticed patterns and worked on solving problems. Even something which seems simple to you such as finding the area of a circle wasn't just "invented" one day. Early on, various cultures had their own, different ways of approximating the area of the circle. Some of the methods, techniques, etc. we use in math are named for the people who worked with them but who didn't necessarily invent them. One of the most familiar of those is the Pythagorean Theorem. The Greek mathematician did not invent the formula relating the lengths of the legs of a right triangle with its hypotenuse, but he did work with it. Logarithms and calculus, on the other hand, were "invented". Read about John Napier, Isaac Newton, and Gottfried Leibniz. There are whole books written about the history of mathematics. There are websites devoted to the topic as well. Try a search using "math history". -Kimberley, for the T2T service

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