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Historical Problems can be used to enliven any mathematics class. Here are some examples from medieval times, from a 19th century American textbook, and from a 19th century Armenian textbook, among other sources.
Two pages from a 1650 manuscript of the Lilavati of Bhaskara II (1114-1185). The second photo is an illustration of the Pythagorean Theorem.
I have two fields of grain. From the first field I harvest 2/3 a bushel of grain/unit area; from the second, 1/2 bushel/unit area.
An official asks a woman why she has so many bowls to wash. The woman explains that she had dinner guests who ate meat, rice, and soup. Judging by the number of bowls, how many guests were there?
A summary of the history of the problem of finding the region of greatest area bounded by a given perimeter. This essay was a winner of the HOM SIGMAA student essay contest in 2006.
Page 8, Images from the Paul Halmos Photograph Collection: Armand Borel, Karol Borsuk, Raoul Bott, William Browder, H. Arlen Brown, and R. Creighton Buck
The Joint Mathematics Meetings are being held in New Orleans, LA from January 5-8, 2007.
A sourcebook of original materials in the history of mathematics from ancient times to the early twentieth century.
Two persons sat down to play for a certain sum of money; and agree that the first who gets three games shall be the winner. After a few games they resolve to divide the stakes. How much should each person receive?
Page from the table of contents of Robert Recorde's The Grounde of Artes (1543) in which is outlined the first dialogue. This dialogue deals with some of the elements of arithmetic, including the basic operations and the use of the rule of three (or the Golden rule).