id: 05668605
dt: j
an: 2010c.00027
au: Howard, Christopher A.
ti: Mathematics problems from ancient Egyptian papyri.
so: Math. Teach. (Reston) 103, No. 5, 332-339 (2009).
py: 2009
pu: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Reston, VA
la: EN
cc: A30 G30 I30
ut: geometric concepts; history of mathematics; Egyptian mathematics; holistic
approach; arithmetic; geometry; mathematical concepts; algebra;
equations
ci:
li:
ab: Summary: Most high school mathematics teachers completed a mathematics
history course in college, and many of them likely found it intriguing.
Unfortunately, very few of them find the time to allow much, if any,
mathematics history to trickle into their instruction. However, if
mathematics history is taught effectively, students can see the
connections across content areas and view mathematics not as a course
of study but as an integrated whole. Ancient Egyptian mathematics lends
itself readily to such overlapping of history and high school
mathematics. Most of mathematics teachersâ€™ knowledge of mathematics
in Egypt is derived from two sizable papyri, the larger Rhind Papyrus
and the older Moscow Papyrus. The Rhind and Moscow Papyri contain
problems that lack discussion of underlying principles. Because
theorems or proofs are absent, teachers are left to search for the
reasoning behind the Egyptiansâ€™ methods by studying the solutions of
various examples. Nevertheless, some remarkable results were obtained.
In this article, the author focuses on three types of problems found
within the ancient papyri: (1) squaring a circle and thus approximating
pi (problems 48 and 50 of the Rhind Papyrus); (2) arithmetic and
geometric sequences (problems 40, 64, and 79 of the Rhind Papyrus); and
(3) volumes of truncated square pyramids (problem 14 of the Moscow
Papyrus). (Contains 7 figures.) (ERIC)
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