Some terms from the History of Mathematics

  • Academy
    (garden of Academus, Athens)
  • Alexander the Great
    (d. 323 BC)
  • Alexandria
    (Egypt, founded by Alexander)
  • analysis
    (Greek technique, the forerunner of algebra)
  • Archimedes
    (3rd c. BC, Sicily)
  • arithmos
  • Athens
    (leading cultural center of classical Greece)
  • acrophonic
    (number system)
  • anachronism
    (historical glitch)
  • apocryphal
  • colophon
    (signature etc)
  • codex
    (ancient book)
  • commensurable
    (rational ratio)
  • continued fraction
    (Euclidean algorithm)
  • Euclid
    (Elements, 300BC)
  • Euclidean algorithm
    (anthyphairesis, alternate subtraction)
  • Eudoxus
    (400 BC, theory of proportions)
  • geometric algebra
    (certain Babylonian and Greek techniques)
  • golden section
    (extreme and mean ratio; ratio found in star pentagram)
  • greatest common measure
    (see measure)
  • Heiberg
    (editor of Euclid in Greek, about 1900)
  • Hellenistic
    (Greek culture after Alexander)
  • irrational number
    (not a fraction)
  • logos
    (proportion, among other things)
  • measure
    (divisor [Euclid])
  • Mesopotamia
    (ancient Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers)
  • number
    (2,3,4,... in Greek usage)
  • Old Babylonian
    (around 1800 BC in Mesopotamia; cuneiform writing)
  • Plimpton 322
    (Babylonian Pythagorean triple text)
  • Plato
    (philosopher, follower of Socrates, classic period)
  • papyrus
    (plant and writing material made from that plant, similar to paper)
  • polyphonic writing
    (multiple meanings)
  • porism
  • pentagram
    (pentagonal star)
  • prime number
    (2,3,5,7,11, ... - no divisors)
  • Proclus
    (neo-Platonist commentator on Euclid, 400 AD)
  • Pythagoras
    (Greek mystic, mathematician, 6th c. BC)
  • quadrature
    ("squaring" = computation of area)
  • recension
    (draft, edition)
  • rhetorical algebra
    (written out in words)
  • Seleucid
    (late Babylonian, or Hellenistic)
  • regular number
    (reciprocal has a finite sexagesimal expansion)
  • sexagesimal
    (base 60)
  • syncopated algebra
    (abbreviated but not symbolic)
  • synthesis
    (construction of a proof; compare "analysis")
  • Thales
    (Greek mathematician, contemporary of Pythagoras)
  • Theatetus
    (classic Greek mathematician, expert on irrationals)
  • Theon
    (late and influential commentator on Euclid's Elements)
  • Winkelhaken
    (Babylonian cuneiform symbol made with the end of the stylus)