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The History of Mathematics: A Brief Course, 2nd Edition

Roger L. Cooke

ISBN: 978-1-118-03024-0 February 2011 632 Pages


This new edition brings the fascinating and intriguing history of mathematics to life

The Second Edition of this internationally acclaimed text has been thoroughly revised, updated, and reorganized to give readers a fresh perspective on the evolution of mathematics. Written by one of the world's leading experts on the history of mathematics, the book details the key historical developments in the field, providing an understanding and appreciation of how mathematics influences today's science, art, music, literature, and society.

In the first edition, each chapter was devoted to a single culture. This Second Edition is organized by subject matter: a general survey of mathematics in many cultures, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, analysis, and mathematical inference. This new organization enables students to focus on one complete topic and, at the same time, compare how different cultures approached each topic. Many new photographs and diagrams have been added to this edition to enhance the presentation.

The text is divided into seven parts:

  • The World of Mathematics and the Mathematics of the World, including the origin and prehistory of mathematics, cultural surveys, and women mathematicians
  • Numbers, including counting, calculation, ancient number theory, and numbers and number theory in modern mathematics
  • Color Plates, illustrating the impact of mathematics on civilizations from Egypt to Japan to Mexico to modern Europe
  • Space, including measurement, Euclidean geometry, post-Euclidean geometry, and modern geometrics
  • Algebra, including problems leading to algebra, equations and methods, and modern algebra
  • Analysis, including the calculus, real, and complex analysis
  • Mathematical Inference, including probability and statistics, and logic and set theory

As readers progress through the text, they learn about the evolution of each topic, how different cultures devised their own solutions, and how these solutions enabled the cultures to develop and progress. In addition, readers will meet some of the greatest mathematicians of the ages, who helped lay the groundwork for today's science and technology.

The book's lively approach makes it appropriate for anyone interested in learning how the field of mathematics came to be what it is today. It can also serve as a textbook for undergraduate or graduate-level courses. An Instructor's Manual presenting detailed solutions to all the problems in the book is available upon request from the Wiley editorial department.

Related Resources

Preface to the Second Edition.


Chapter 1. The Origin and Prehistory of Mathematics.

Chapter 2. Mathematical Cultures I.

Chapter 3. Mathematical Cultures II.

Chapter 4. Women Mathematicians.


Chapter 5. Counting.

Chapter 6. Calculation.

Chapter 7. Ancient Number Theory.

Chapter 8. Numbers and Number Theory in Modren Mathematics.



Chapter 9. Measurement.

Chapter 10. Euclidean Geometry.

Chapter 11. Post-Euclidean Geometry.

Chapter 12. Modern Geometries.


Chapter 13. Prolems Leading to Algebra.

Chapter 14. Equations and Methods.

Chapter 15. Modern Algebra.


Chapter 16. The Calculus.

Chapter 17. Real and Complex Aanlysis.


Chapter 18. Probability and Statistics.

Chapter 19. Logic and Set Theory.


Subject Index.

Name Index.

This new edition of a popular title now focuses on topic rather than geography as a theme for presentation.

“This book should engage students, and Chapters 1-4 contain a great deal of material that students usually have to find outside their textbook: background history, relationship of mathematics to the broader culture, and a great deal of information on women in mathematics.  Once the students are taken in by the story, it will be the instructor’s job to elaborate on the historical calculations and proofs.  For an experienced instructor in a history of mathematics class, this is an ideal situation; both the instructor and the text get to do their jobs.”  (Mathematical Association of America, 16 July 2013)

"The second edition…is a jewel. It is notable for what it includes as well as what it does not. But most importantly, it is a jewel for its presentation." (MAA Reviews, January 15, 2007)

"…a remarkably well-compiled format…recommended as a textbook for an undergraduate course; in addition...can appeal to readers interested in the history of science and to a general audience." (E-STREAMS, November 2006)

"An amazing assemblage of worldwide contributions in mathematics and, in addition to use as a course book, a valuable resource…essential." (CHOICE, November 2005)

  • Provides for easier use in teaching the history of mathematics topically rather than geographically or chronologically
  • Topical organization prevents repetition of material
  • Focuses on ideas and applications rather than on biography
  • Concise presentation allows for coverage of the material in one semester
  • Presents topics in the development of mathematics in roughly the same order that students encounter them in their coursework
  • Topical organization allows for more comparisons between groups (i.e. Eastern and Western cultures, discovery and developments of women in mathematics, etc)
  • Provides an interesting and informative reference to both students and the mathematically-interested public