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.

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3000 B.c 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. Ancient Greece starts to flourish. Greek thinkers contribute number theory, geometry, and logic to mathematics. greek numbers
530 B.c Pythagoras, one of the most famous of the Greek mathematicians and philosophers, founds the Pythagorean movement. pythagoruspythagorean
300 B.c. Euclid completes his writing of Elements, 13 volumes on mathematics. euclidEuclid The Elements
100 A.D Astronomers begin to develop trigonometry. trigonometry.
  170 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
200 Diophantus, a Gr~ek mathematician, develops algebra. He is considered by many to be the father of that subject. DiophantusDiophantus
540 Diophantus and astronomer, advances mathematics by solving the quadratic equation. quadratic equationquadratic equation
600 Geometry, algebra, and numeral systems benefit from Hindu and Arabian thought. The idea of zero is introduced HinduHindu zero
775 The translation of Hindu mathematics to Arabic takes place. Arabic hindu numbers
830 al-Khowarizml, an Arabian, works with algebra, numeral systems, and equations.
1100 Arabic and Hindu mathematics spread throughout Western Europe. Arabic and Hindu mathematics
1200 Leonardo of Pis a (Fibonacci), an Italian, works with equations, sequences, series, and Pi. .FibonacciFibonacci
1478 The first mathematics books are printed. first mathematics books
1489 The signs of + and - are introduced + and - are introduced
1500 Negative numbers and perspective are introduced. Negative numbers
1525 Great work is done on solving equations. solving equations
1540 Imaginary numbers are explored. Imaginary numbers
1557 Englishman Robert Record writes the first English algebra text. Englishman Robert Record
1560 The Italian Girolamo Cardano works with complex numbers, equations, and probability. Girolamo Cardano

Decimals are introduced.

1614 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 The coordinate system is developed. coordinate system
1640 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 Pierre de Fermat, French mathematician, studies various topics, including coordinates, polygons, probability, and the Pythagorean theorem. Pierre de FermatPierre de Fermat
1650 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 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 Work on determinants is done. determinants
1780 Complex numbers are explored by several mathematicians. abraham molriecomplex numberscomplex numbers
1799 The Metric System is introduced. metric systemmetric system
1800 Theories on projection are developed. Number theory is explored. Theories on projection
1810 Carl Friedrich Gauss, a German mathematician, expands the study of number theory. Carl Friedrich GaussCarl Friedrich GaussCarl Friedrich Gauss
1820 The Russian Nikolai Ivanovich LCl'Qachevsky works on geometry. Nikolai IvanovichNikolai Ivanovich
1840 Various mathematicians work with matrices, vectors, and symbolic logic. matricesvectorsboolesymbolic logic
1870 George Cantor works with infinite sets. George CantorGeorge Cantor
1905 Albert Einstein develops the theory of relativity. Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein
1910 Various mathematicians, including Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, study the logical foundations of mathematics. alphred whiteheadbertrand russelllogical foundations of mathematics
1920 Emmy Noether studies abstract algebra. Emmy Noetherabstract algebra
1945 Various mathematicians and researchers work on computers. researchers work on computersotto
1976 Kenneth Appel and Wolfgang Haken find a solution of the Four Color Problem. Kenneth AppelWolfgang Hakenfour color problem
1977 Robert Connelly finds a rigidity counterexample. Robert ConnellyRobert Connelly
1993 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


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Candace M. Jordan
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