Day 11: Problems from RMP 

Summary

Discussion of Egyptian mathematics, using examples from RMP.  We will study a number of probems from the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus to understand the techniques used in MK mathematics and compare the Egyptian approach with that of OB Mesopotamia.  There are distinct differences in approach and organization, as well as the differences we saw in how arithmetic is performed, but there are also some important similarities.  Note that in all the problems, the goal is to determine some number, just as it is in Old Babylonian mathematics, although this goal may be disguised by the format of the problems.  We will also discuss Egyptian metrology.

Reading

J. Ritter, 'Measure for Measure' in M. Serres (ed.) A History of Scientific Thought, 44-72.
R.J. Gillings, Mathematics in the Time of the Pharoahs, Chapters 13 and 17.

Handout

 RMP Problems

Homework

Do the exercises from the RMP problems handout.
On to Day 12.


Up to Ancient and Classical Mathematics


Last modified: 3 October 2005
Duncan J. Melville

Comments to dmelville@stlawu.edu