Math 128: History of Mathematics in the Islamic World, Fall 2017

Instructor: Noah Aydin
Office/Phone: RBH 319 / 5674
Office Hours: M,W: 1-2; T: 9-11; R: 10-11 and by appointment. Here is my weekly schedule.
Textbooks: 1.Episodes in Mathematics of Medieval Islam, 2nd ed (2016), by J. L. Berggren
                    2. Islamic Science and Making of the European Renaissance, by G. Saliba
                    3. Ibn al-Haytham: First scientist, by B. Steffens
                    4. The Prisoner of Al-Hakim, by B. Steffens
Room & Time: RBH 203 , MWF 11:10-12

Course Description:

This course examines an important and interesting part of the history of mathematics, and more generally, the intellectual history of human kind: history of mathematics in the Islamic world. Some of the most fundamental notions in modern mathematics have their roots in this part of the history such as the modern number system, the fields of algebra and trigonometry,  the concept of algorithm, foundations of optics, and the scientific method. These contributions are generally not known, not only in the west but in the Islamic World either. Moreover, there are commonly held misconceptions about the subject. In addition to studying specific contributions of medieval Islamic scholars in the areas of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry in some details, we will also examine the context in which the Islamic science and mathematics flourished, and the role of religion this development. We will discuss the reasons behind the lack of awareness in the subject. We will examine the  evidence from recent research that challenges and refutes many of the commonly held misconceptions. The rise of Islamic science and its interactions with other cultures (e.g. Greek, Indian, and European Renaissance) tells us much about the larger issues of humanities. Thus, this course has both a substantial mathematical component (~60-65 %) and a significant history and social science component (~35-40%), bringing together three disciplines: Mathematics, History and Religion. It is part of the Islamic Civilization and Cultures program, and fulfills the QR requirement. No prerequisite is needed beyond high school algebra and geometry, but a solid knowledge in algebra and geometry is needed.

Some Useful Online Resources
  The MacTutor of History of Mathematics Archive:
  The MacTutor  Islamic Mathematics:              
  Muslim Heritage Web Site:                             

Some Useful Documentaries (freely available online):
  Empire of Faith: A PBS documentary Science in Islam Part 1, Science in Islam Part 2, or Full documentary
  Science and Islam a 3-part BBC documentary Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, or Full.
When Moors Ruled Europe by historian Bettany Hughes
Ladder of the Sky: Iranian TV series on the life of Al-Kashi

Teaching Philosophy and Expectations

General Course Information and Syllabus

Course Calendar, Hmw and Reading Assignments

Information About Final Project

Math Dept Guidelines for Healthy Collaboration