The best books on the history of mathematics

Robin Wilson (Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University) recommends 5 books to understand history of mathematics.

He says if math was taught more historically, students would appreciate it more.

Why should we be interested in the history of mathematics?

Mathematics, like painting, music, literature, has a long history. Indeed, it’s longer than most, since the first writing is believed to be numerical. It’s also multicultural, with its historical origins in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The history of mathematics also involves particular individuals who are part of our world culture. Perhaps more school children would be interested in maths if it were taught more from a historical point of view. For example, how often do they learn that quadratic equations have been solved for 4000 years, having their origins in clay tablets discovered in what is now Iraq, an area that features in our daily newspapers?

Couldn’t agree more!

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3 Responses to “The best books on the history of mathematics”

  1. Madhu Says:

    Thanks ! My personal favorite is the history of mathematics by Georges Ifrah. It gets some bad rap from Eurocentric historians, and that makes it a ‘must read’, provides a comprehensive overview of the history of fundamental math. The Stedall book seems equally inclined to question the conventional Eurocentric views.

  2. Mudit Says:

    Amol you might be interested in https://cepr.org/content/economic-history program as well…

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