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HOM SIGMAA 2019 Student Paper Contest Winner

Convergence is pleased to present the winning paper from the 2019 Student Paper Contest sponsored by the History of Mathematics Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America (HOM SIGMAA):

Ms. Nethington received one-year memberships in MAA (including HOM SIGMAA) and the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics (CSHPM), along with a book on history of mathematics. In announcing the prize winner, HOM SIGMAA Chair Amy Shell-Gellasch wrote, "This year was notable because there was one very clear winner, [while] the rest of the papers had similar scores. . . . Congratulations to all the students who participated, our finalists, and our winner."

The winning paper was selected by a team of five judges: Joel Haack, Thomas Gage, Pam Peters, Evan Hedlund, and Dan Kemp. HOM SIGMAA has sponsored the Student Paper Contest since 2004. The contest was facilitated from 2004 to 2010 and in 2019 by its founder, then HOM SIGMAA Program Coordinator and current HOM SIGMAA Chair Amy Shell-Gellasch. Former HOM SIGMAA Prize Coordinators Herb Kasube (2011–2013), Dominic Klyve (2014–2016), and Dorothee Blum (2017–2018) have also run the contest.

All winning papers in the HOM SIGMAA Student Contest are published in Convergence; many are also available through the HOM SIGMAA archives at

Other HOM SIGMAA Student Contest Papers in Convergence

2020: Jeffrey Powers (Grand Rapids Community College), “Did Archimedes Do Calculus?

2019: Amanda Nethington (University of Missouri – Kansas City), "Achieving Philosophical Perfection: Omar Khayyam's Successful Replacement of Euclid's Parallel Postulate."

2018: First place – Callie Lane (University of Missouri – Kansas City), "Race to Refraction: The Repeated Discovery of Snell's Law"; Second place – Christen Peters (Lee University), "The Reality of the Complex: The Discovery and Development of Imaginary Numbers," and Rachel Talmadge (University of Missouri – Kansas City), "François Viète Uses Geometry to Solve Three Problems."

2017: Co-winners – Amanda Akin (Lee University), “To Infinity and Beyond: A Historical Journey on Contemplating the Infinite,” Johann Gaebler (Harvard University), “Traditionalism: 1894 to 1925,” and Nathan Otten (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Huygens and The Value of all Chances in Games of Fortune.”

2016: Co-winners – Brittany Anne Carlson (Salt Lake Community College), “A Latent Element of Alice’s Agency in Wonderland: Conservative Victorian Mathematics,” and William Cole (Lee University), “The Evolution of the Circle Method in Additive Prime Number Theory.”

2015: Co-winners – Samuel Patterson (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Bernard Bolzano, a Genius Unnoticed in His Time,” and Briana Yankie (Lee University), “Examining Disproved Mathematical Ideas through the Lens of Philosophy.”

2014: First place – Jenna Miller (University of Missouri – Kansas City), "Casting Light on the Statistical Life of Florence Nightingale," and Anna Riffe (University of Missouri – Kansas City), "The Impossible Proof: An Analysis of Adrien-Marie Legendre's Attempts to Prove Euclid's Fifth Postulate"; Second place – Paul Ayers (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Gabriel Cramer: Over 260 Years of Crushing the Unknowns," and Mary Ruff (Colorado State University – Pueblo), "Probability to 1750."

2013: Matthew Shives (Hood College), "Paradigms and Mathematics: A Creative Perspective."

2012: First place – Jesse Hamer (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Indivisibles and the Cycloid in the Early 17th Century”; Second place – Kevin L. Wininger (Otterbein University), “On the Foundations of X-Ray Computed Tomography in Medicine: A Fundamental Review of the 'Radon transform' and a Tribute to Johann Radon.”

2011: First place – Paul Stahl (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Kepler's Development of Mathematical Astronomy”; Second place – Sarah Costrell (Brandeis University), “Mathematics and Mathematical Thought in the Quadrivium of Isidore of Seville,” and Rick Hill (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Thomas Harriot's Artis Analyticae Praxis and the Roots of Modern Algebra.”

2010: Co-winners – Jennifer Nielsen (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “The Heart is a Dust Board:  Abu’l Wafa Al-Buzjani, Dissection, Construction, and the Dialog Between Art and Mathematics in Medieval Islamic Culture,” Palmer Rampell (Phillips Academy and Harvard University), “The Use of Similarity in Old Babylonian Mathematics,” and Stefanie Streck (Pacific Lutheran University), “The Fermat Problem.”

2009: First place – Nathan McLaughlin (University of Montana), “The Mathematical Optics of Sir William Hamilton: Conical Refraction and Quaternions”; Second place – Tim Chalberg (Pacific Lutheran University), “Regression Analysis: A Powerful Tool and Riveting Drama”; Honorable Mention – Amy Buchmann (Chapman University), “A Brief History of Quaternions and the Theory of Holomorphic Functions of Quaternionic Variables.”

2008: First place – Mame Maloney (University of Chicago), “Constructivism: A Realistic Approach to Math?”; Second place – Woody Burchett (Georgetown College), “Thinking Inside the Box: Geometric Interpretation of Quadratic Problems in BM 13901,” and Cole McGee (Colorado State University – Pueblo), “Jean Le Rond D'Alembert: Biography of a Mathematician, Philosophe, and a Man of Letters”; Honorable mention – Mame Maloney (University of Chicago), “Pathological Functions in the 18th and 19th Centuries.”

2007: Co-winners – Rory Plante, “The Libra Astronomica and its Mathematics,” and Douglas Smith (Miami University, Ohio), “Lucas’s theorem: A Great Theorem.”

2006: Co-winners – Jennifer Wiegert, “The Sagacity of Circles: A History of the Isoperimetric Problem,” and Samantha Reynolds (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Maria Gaetana Agnesi: Female Mathematician and Brilliant Expositor of the 18th Century.”

2005: First place – Newlyn Walkup (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “Eratosthenes and the Mystery of the Stades”; Second place – James Collingwood (Drake University), “Rigor in Analysis: From Newton to Cauchy.”

2004: Co-winners – Mark Walters, “It Appears That Four Colors Suffice: A Historical Overview of the Four-Color Theorem,” and Heath Yates (University of Missouri – Kansas City), “An Emanji Temple Tablet.”

"HOM SIGMAA 2019 Student Paper Contest Winner," Convergence (April 2019), DOI:10.4169/convergence20190403