Mathematical Expeditions: Exploring Word Problems across the Ages

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Overview

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

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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!

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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

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Customer Reviews

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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.

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