Mathematical Expeditions: Exploring Word Problems across the Ages

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $16.94
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 43%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $16.94   
  • New (6) from $20.72   
  • Used (3) from $16.94   


A little bucket, one-third full, is 8 inches deep, and its upper and lower diameters are 7 inches and 6 inches, respectively. How large is the frog which, jumping into the bucket, causes the water to rise 3 inches? Word problems not unlike this example are a staple on math tests and of abiding interest to students, teachers, and professional mathematicians alike. Frank Swetz, a highly regarded mathematics educator, gathers hundreds of these problems in this fun and fascinating introduction to mathematics from around the world.

Mathematical Expeditions is a collection of over 500 culturally and historically diverse mathematical problems carefully chosen to enrich mathematics teaching from middle school through the college level. What better way to teach students the multicultural aspects of math than by assigning them problems first composed on clay tablets by Babylonian scribes, included in the Rhind papyrus, or Vedic problems scratched on tree bark? From Egypt to Greece to China to India, Swetz’s problems—both practical and abstract—span centuries and cultures.

Swetz has organized the problems by culture and historical period, showing, through the various constructs and contexts of the problems, the history and development of mathematics throughout the world. Along the way, he tells us what various cultures knew about math and how they came to learn it, providing instructors with a wonderful way to incorporate multicultural mathematics into the middle school, high school, and college classroom.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Reference and Research Book News

Swetz has collected word problems, or story problems, used to teach mathematics around the world and throughout history, so mathematics teachers in middle and secondary schools can use them today. University students of mathematics and its history might also find them useful as well as entertaining.

Mathematical Reviews - Victor J. Katz

Mathematical Expeditions is a wonderful resource for any teacher who would like to use old problems in a course to help students understand the context of mathematical ideas.

London Mathematical Society Newsletter - E. Keith Lloyd

The book is well thought-out and is recommended to readers interested in the history of mathematics.

Mathematics Teacher - Winifred A. Mallam

One of my graduate students, who is majoring in mathematics, was excited when I showed her a sample of problems in the book. A month later, she asked whether I had finished my review—she wanted to borrow the book!

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421404387
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 965,488
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank J. Swetz is a professor emeritus of mathematics and education at The Pennsylvania State University. Among his numerous books are Learning Activities from the History of Mathematics; Five Fingers to Infinity: A Journey through the History of Mathematics; and Capitalism and Arithmetic: The New Math of the 15th Century.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2012

    A challenging math book.

    I am not a teacher, a student nor an historian. I am a retired chemist. I took a lot of math in my school days. Word problems gave me a hard time. I bought this book to challenge my problem- solving brain function which my nuerologist recommended to ward off mild cognitive impairment in old age. I still can't solve this book's word problems easily. The ancients were very smart people. The book is very interesting, well illistrated and provides answers to the chapter problems( Thanks Mr Swetz, I needed that). In summary, I plan to have FUN, better HEALTH, and, with some review of math, I might even solve more of these word problems.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)