Math 323: Fall 2005

Day 4: Old Babylonian algorithms

Summary

Introduction to Old Babylonian procedure texts and word problems.  These are problems that were assigned to students learning mathematics.  They learned mathematics the same way they learned other subjects: practicing over and over again.  Old Babylonian mathematics is very procedural.  Students would practice a particular procedure with differing constants until they could perform it well.  We will look at a couple of examples of these problem texts and also discuss the important procedure for finding reciprocals of numbers not in the standard list, called The Technique.

Reading

My Old Babylonian summary page again, concentrating on the problem texts.
My page on The Technique and handout on reciprocals.  

Handouts

Technique Flowchart.
Reciprocal exercises worksheet

Homework

Reciprocal problems and algorithms.
On to Day 5.


Up to Ancient and Classical Mathematics


Last modified: 7 September 2005
Duncan J. Melville

Comments to dmelville@stlawu.edu