Mathematics is an evolving discipline. It is constantly expanding and chang­ing. Although the ancient Greeks, for instance, began to develop number theory and made major contributions to geometry and logic, they had little inkling of probability, which wasn't formalized until the mid 1600s.

greek math

Following is a brief history of mathematics, according to topic and mathe­matician. Note that most dates are approximations as these individuals often worked years in furthering mathematics. Also, because so many people have con­tributed to mathematics throughout history, this list is quite subjective and we picked who we feel are some of the most significant contributors. Undoubtedly, you will be able to name several others that should be included here.

world of math

3,000 B.C.E.

Egyptians and Babylonians begin the development of number systems and early bookkeeping. Simple problems of arithmetic and geometry necessary to a civilized society become commonplace. babylonian numbersbabylonian numbersegyptian numbers

700 B.C.E.

Ancient Greece starts to flourish. Greek thinkers contribute number theory, geometry, and logic to mathematics. greek numbers

530 B.C.E.

Pythagoras, one of the most famous of the Greek mathematicians and philosophers, founds the Pythagorean movement. pythagoruspythagorean

300 B.C.E.

Euclid completes his writing of Elements, 13 volumes on mathematics. euclidEuclid The Elements

100 C.E.

Astronomers begin to develop trigonometry. trigonometry.



Ptolemy, mathematician and astronomer, declares that the earth is the center of the universe. This becomes the dominate view until the 17th century when Copernicus claims that the sun is the center of the solar system. PtolemyPtolemy



Diophantus, a Greek mathematician, develops algebra. He is considered by many to be the father of that subject. DiophantusDiophantus

540 C.E.

Diophantus and astronomer, advances mathematics by solving the quadratic equation. quadratic equationquadratic equation

600 C.E.

Geometry, algebra, and numeral systems benefit from Hindu and Arabian thought. The idea of zero is introduced HinduHindu zero

775 C.E.

The translation of Hindu mathematics to Arabic takes place. Arabic hindu numbers

830 C.E.

al-Khowarizml, an Arabian, works with algebra, numeral systems, and equations.

1100 C.E

Arabic and Hindu mathematics spread throughout Western Europe. Arabic and Hindu mathematics

1200 C.E.

Leonardo of Pis a (Fibonacci), an Italian, works with equations, sequences, series, and Pi. .FibonacciFibonacci

1478 C.E.

The first mathematics books are printed. first mathematics books

1489 C.E.

The signs of + and - are introduced + and - are introduced

1500 C.E

Negative numbers and perspective are introduced. Negative numbers

1525 C.E.

Great work is done on solving equations. solving equations

1540 C.E.

Imaginary numbers are explored. Imaginary numbers

1557 C.E.

Englishman Robert Record writes the first English algebra text. Englishman Robert Record

1560 C.E.

The Italian Girolamo Cardano works with complex numbers, equations, and probability. Girolamo Cardano

1580 C.D.

Decimals are introduced.


1614 C.D.

John Napier, Scottish mathematician, creates the first system of logarithms. He is the first to use the decimal point. John NapierJohn NapierbookJohn Napier logorhythms

1630 C.E.

The coordinate system is developed. coordinate system

1640 C.D.

Rene Descartes, French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, works on systemizing analytic geometry. He also attempts to classify curves according to the types of equations that produce them. Rene DescartesRene Descartes

1645 C.D.

Pierre de Fermat, French mathematician, studies various topics, including coordinates, polygons, probability, and the Pythagorean theorem. Pierre de FermatPierre de Fermat

1650 C.D.

Blaise Pascal, French philosopher, physicist, and mathematician, formulates one of the basic theorems of projective geometry, known as Pascal's theorem. He also invents the first adding machine. Blaise PascalBlaise PascalBlaise Pascal

1680 C.E.

The German Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz works on calculus, functions, and infinity. Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

1700 C.E.

Work on determinants is done. determinants

1780 C.D.

Complex numbers are explored by several mathematicians. abraham molriecomplex numberscomplex numbers

1799 C.E.

The Metric System is introduced. metric systemmetric system

1800 C.E.

Theories on projection are developed. Number theory is explored. Theories on projection

1810 C.E.

Carl Friedrich Gauss, a German mathematician, expands the study of number theory. Carl Friedrich GaussCarl Friedrich GaussCarl Friedrich Gauss

1820 C.E.

The Russian Nikolai Ivanovich LCl'Qachevsky works on geometry. Nikolai IvanovichNikolai Ivanovich

1840 C.E.

Various mathematicians work with matrices, vectors, and symbolic logic. matricesvectorsboolesymbolic logic

1870 C.E.

George Cantor works with infinite sets. George CantorGeorge Cantor

1905 C.E.

Albert Einstein develops the theory of relativity. Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein

1910 C.E.

Various mathematicians, including Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, study the logical foundations of mathematics. alphred whiteheadbertrand russelllogical foundations of mathematics

1920 C.E.

Emmy Noether studies abstract algebra. Emmy Noetherabstract algebra

1945 C.E.

Various mathematicians and researchers work on computers. researchers work on computersotto

1976 C.E.

Kenneth Appel and Wolfgang Haken find a solution of the Four Color Problem. Kenneth AppelWolfgang Hakenfour color problem

1977 C.E.

Robert Connelly finds a rigidity counterexample. Robert ConnellyRobert Connelly

1993 C.E.

Andrew Wiles presents what he believes is the proof of the most famous problem in mathematics-Fermat's last theorem. At the time of this book's printing, Wiles' work has not been confirmed. andrew wilesFermat's last theoremFermat's last theorem

The Math Teacher's Book of Lists 1995 by Prentice Hall