## 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