You are here

Mathematical Treasure: Charles Davies's Logic & Utility of Mathematics

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Charles Davies (1798–1876) was one of the earlier mathematics instructors at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York (established in 1802). He helped establish the curriculum and was instrumental in providing translations of French textbooks for use by the cadets. Davies went on to be a leading compiler of mathematics textbooks for use at West Point and for the public in general.

The Logic and Utility of Mathematics (1869, first published in 1850) presents Davies’s philosophy and pedagogy for the teaching of mathematics. It provides insights as to how mathematics was viewed in 19th-century America.

Title page, Charles Davies's The Logic & Utility of Mathematics

In his “Preface”, Davies expresses pride in his West Point accomplishments.

Preface, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of MathematicsPreface, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of Mathematics

The scope of Charles Davies’s mathematics curriculum for West Point is outlined in the “Table of Contents”.

Table of Contents, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of MathematicsTable of Contents, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of Mathematics

Table of Contents, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of MathematicsTable of Contents, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of Mathematics

Table of Contents, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of MathematicsTable of Contents, Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of Mathematics

At the end of Logic and Utility, Davies gives a more detailed explanation of his philosophy of mathematics teaching. Here in sections 375–376, on page 346, the author discusses the teaching of algebra.

Charles Davies, The Logic and Utility of Mathematics, page 346

These materials on Charles Davies are presented through the courtesy of The Library of Congress. For other textbooks published by Davies described in Convergence, see the Mathematical Treasures Index.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Charles Davies's Logic & Utility of Mathematics," Convergence (April 2016)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED