This semester I am teaching an introductory course in mathematics for students in other departments. I taught a similar course last year entitled “Basic Ideas in Mathematics,” and this year, following a suggestion of my wife, I changed the name to “The Beauty of Mathematics”. Another change is that starting this year we have a general program in the university, called “Cornerstones“, (initiated by the rector,) whose purpose is to widen the education we offer to our students, and this course is part of the new program.
Talking about beauty rather than about basic ideas, combined with the new Cornerstone program have led many more students to enlist to the course this year, and subsequently the lectures will use computer presentations.
Of course, the challenge has become harder. I truly think mathematics is beautiful, but trying to convey its beautiful facets has never been easy. Also, I do not want to sweep under the rug the difficulty of mathematics, and the students will have to learn some basic mathematical skills and some abstract mathematics. Ideas and suggestions are most welcome.
What do you regard as a great example of the beauty of mathematics?
Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī
(From the Wikipedia article on zero.) In 976 Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, in his Keys of the Sciences, remarked that if, in a calculation, no number appears in the place of tens, a little circle should be used “to keep the rows.”