In my first- and second-year college classes, I infuse the standard curriculum with a small number of historical and cross-cultural activities closely linked to traditional topics. The activities, which I developed and have used since 2001, take the form of written, self-paced lessons or modules. Each activity focuses on a mathematical technique used in the medieval Arab or Islamic world. My students look at the cultural and historical context of the technique and its links to other methods, most often from the mathematics of medieval India and China. They explore the theory behind the technique, and they see how it is used to solve “real-world” problems, including the type of problem that prompted its discovery.
On the pages that follow, I will describe:
The five modules may be downloaded from this page and also at other convenient points throughout the article: