Maths Fun » Some History with Mathematics!

Some History with Mathematics!

Enjoy learning about the history of mathematics with this short list of historical math facts and information.

Here are some facts on Ancient Egyptian mathematics, Babylonian mathematics, Chinese mathematics, Greek mathematics and more to quench your thirst for History in Mathematics. Who invented the equal sign? Where did the numeric digits we use today originate from?

Find out below and have fun as you improve your knowledge with our brief math history.

  • Studies show that Ancient Egyptians used complex mathematics like algebra and geometry as far back as 3000 BC. This includes equations to approximate the area of circles.
  • You have heard of the Babylonians haven’t you, well they have been in the math game too, they are known to have used the technique of measuring the circumference of a circle as approximately 3 times the diameter, which is fairly close to today’s measurement which uses the value of Pi (around 3.14). They also did math in base 60 instead of base 10. That's why we have 60 seconds in a minute and 360 degrees in a circle.
  • Did you know that Chinese mathematics developed at a time around the 11th century BC? They brought to modern mathematics important concepts related to negative numbers, decimals, algebra and geometry.
  • Greek mathematics developed around the 7th century BC. The Greeks produced many important theories thanks to great mathematicians that included Pythagoras, Euclid and Archimedes. Haven't you heard of the Pythagoras Theorem and the Archimedes Principle? Well they are names of these Greek Mathematicians who worked and found these principles and theorems.
  • The Hindu-Arabic numeric system began developing as early as the 1st century with a full system of numbers being established around the 9th century. This gave birth to the basis of numerical digits for 0-9 that we use in our daily lives now!
  • The symbols used for addition (+) and subtraction (-) have been around for thousands of years but it was in the 16th century that most mathematical symbols were invented. Before this math equations were written in words, imagine how time consuming it would have been to do math problems using words instead of symbols!
  • Until the 16th century there was no equals sign in mathematics. The equals sign (=) was only invented in 1557 by a Welsh mathematician named Robert Recorde.
  • "I think, therefore I am," is a well-known saying by Philosopher René Descartes, but this is not the only thing that he should be credited for. He also developed the XY-coordinate system that is used now extensively in medicine and engineering.
  • Developments in the field of Mathematics increased at an astounding rate around the time of the Italian Renaissance in the 16th century and it continued through the scientific revolution during the 17th and 18th centuries. The 19th and 20th centuries saw a turn in the progression with the findings in mathematics becoming increasingly abstract.

Now are you ready for some other awesome facts about Mathematics?

  • Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica contained a simple calculation error that went unnoticed for 300 years, and was found by a 23-year-old physics student! In 1987, Robert Garisto found a fault in The Principia, published in 1687, which argued that a unified system of scientific principles governed what happened on Earth and in the heavens.
  • Mathematician Paul Erdos could calculate in his head, given a person's age, how many seconds they had lived, when he was just 4 years old.
  • In mathematics, a Mersenne prime is a prime number that is one less than a power of two. To put it in simpler words, Mersenne primes are prime numbers that can be written in the form of Mn = 2n − 1 for an integer n. They are named after Marin Mersenne, a French Minim friar, who studied them in the early 17th century.
  • The largest prime number ever found is more than 22 million digits long. The largest known prime number 274,207,281 − 1 is a Mersenne prime.
  • Zero is the only number that can't be represented in Roman numerals.


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