Oxton House Publishers, LLC


Math through the Ages

•  Would you like to include some history in your math classes, but don’t want to search through those big math history texts?

•  Would you like to teach a math history course in your high school, but  don’t have time to put one together?

•  Would you like your students to do projects relating math to social studies and the arts, but don’t know where to start?

In either case, this book is for you!

Math through the Ages

A Gentle History for Teachers and Others

William P. Berlinghoff & Fernando Q. Gouvêa

Compact, easy to read, and economical, it is ideal as

--- a handy reference for high school or college math teachers,

--- a math history text for a high school or college course,

--- a supplement to other high school or college math courses, or

--- an introductory reader for anyone interested in the history of mathematics.

Math through the Ages comes in two versions (see the pictures at right):

     The original Second Edition is a 272-page paperback that sells for only $24.95, a very affordable teacher resource or supplementary course text.

     The Expanded 2nd Edition, co-published with the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) is a 348-page hardbound book that includes all the same text material as the original, plus 64 added pages of Questions and Projects, an ideal high school or college text.

Do you teach math?

•  Where did math come from?

•  Who thought up all those algebra symbols, and why?

•  What’s the story behind π ?

•  How did the ancient Egyptians write numbers?

•  What did the Arabs contribute to mathematics?

•  What’s the metric system?

•  Who thought up sine and cosine?

•  Who invented the first computers?

Or are you just curious?

Winner of the 2007
Beckenbach Book Prize


The main section of this book consists of 30 “sketches”—bite-size (4- to 6-page) histories of topics that come up in high school and early college mathematics.  These can be read or used independently of each other, in any order, to fit your needs. You can choose any or all of these to suit your students’ level or your own interests.  

The “big picture” is in a 58-page introductory section, “The History of Mathematics in a Large Nutshell,” and 7 pages of “What to Read Next” give you or your students a head start on researching topics in more depth.

Here's what makes this book unique:

Now also published in

Complex Chinese by Wu-Nan Book Co., Taiwan (www.wunan.com.tw)

Portuguese by Editora Blucher, São Paulo, Brazil (www.blucher.com.br)

Slovenian by Modrijan založba, Ljubljana, Slovenia (www.modrijan.si)

Second Edition
272 pp. paperback



Math through the Ages

Second Edition, revised and enlarged

What’s New...

Five more historical Sketches have been added:  (See the Contents page for what they are.) Also added is When They Lived, a listing before the Bibliography to replace the birth/death dates that had appeared intrusively throughout the text of the first edition.

What’s Changed...

What’s the Same...

Mindful of the many college professors whose courses have been built, at least in part, around the first edition, Sketches 1 – 25 have remained substantially the same.  Parts of some have been reworked a bit, but all their “story lines” are unchanged, so they are still compatible with the Questions and Projects of the First Expanded Edition.

© 2006 – 2015 Oxton House Publishers, LLC

Made by Serif

“Math through the Ages is a treasure, one of the best history of math books at its level ever written. Somehow, it manages to stay true to a surprisingly sophisticated story, while respecting the needs of its audience.  Its overview of the subject captures most of what one needs to know, and the 30 sketches are small gems of exposition that stimulate further exploration.”

Glen Van Brummelen, Quest University
President (2012-14),
Canadian Society for History & Philosophy of Mathematics

“Mathematics describes the world, and its history connects us to it through time.  Math through the Ages brings this story to anyone who wants to sit back and enjoy the tale as told by two superb storytellers.  Always lighthearted yet succinct, Berlinghoff and Gouvêa’s style is comfortable and their message is clear: the history of mathematics is accessible to anyone.”

Amy Shell-Gellasch, Montgomery College

Program Director, MAA History of Mathematics Special Interest Group

Click here for a review on MAA Reviews.

Buy Now

Oops!  Second Edition,
first printing errata

p. 193, l. 5 should begin: “At first, the tangent was not a part of trigonometry.”

p. 200,  l. 2: giT should be giS.

Expanded Second Edition, hardbound  

The Expanded Second Edition adds two pages of Questions and Projects to each Sketch and 27 detailed Project ideas at the end of the overview.  A 120-page Instructor’s Guide, free with any class-size adoption, has detailed solutions to the Questions and extensive commentaries on most of the Projects.

Course adoptions: 48 and counting!

So far, 48 colleges and universities in 29 states and provinces have adopted the Second Edition of Math through the Ages as a course text.

see Adoptions list

NOTE: This Expanded Second Edition
is now published exclusively by the Mathematical Association of America;
ISBN: 978-1-93951-212-3.

Direct link to the MAA listing of this book.