Multicultural Mathematics
St. Joseph's University
MAT 1011, Section 103
Dr. Rachel Hall

Office: 229 Barbelin
Office Hours: M 10-11, T 1-2, and R 2:30-3:30, and by appointment
Telephone: (610) 660-3096 (Office)

Course Goals.  To strengthen and expand our understanding of fundamental mathematics, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, through comparative study of the mathematics of non-European cultures.  To appreciate the contributions of all cultures to the development of mathematics.  To explore the connections between mathematics, art, and music.  The course will be particularly appropriate for majors in elementary education and fine arts and any student who is  interested in non-European history or culture.

Required Texts.

Optional Texts. Projects.  There will be two major projects, explained further at   An essential part of the project will be explaining your work to your classmates in a brief presentation.

In-class work.  This includes worksheets and group work.  If you are absent on the day in-class work is assigned, you will receive a zero for that assignment.

Homework.   Homework assignments will be posted at  There will be five assignments, of which I will count the highest four grades.  You should start working on the homework problems for a section as soon as that section is covered in class.   Although you are encouraged to consult  other students and seek help from me, homework should ultimately represent your own work.  Answers unsupported by work will not receive credit.  Not all problems may be graded.

Homework assignments are due in class on the day assigned.  No late homework will be accepted.  I ask that you write on one side of the page only, staple your pages together, and cut off any messy edges.

Tests.  There will be four 30-minute tests spaced throughout the semester.  The final test will be given during the final exam period.  The lowest grade will be dropped.  Makeup tests will only be given to students who contact me within 48 hours of missing a test.  Students with a valid, verifiable reason for missing a test may take a makeup without penalty;  those who have missed a test without a valid, verifiable reason may take a makeup with a 30% penalty.   The tests will not be cumulative.

Grades.  Grades will be weighted as follows:
50%       four highest test grades
20%       projects
10%       in-class work
20%       four highest homework grades

The grading scale is 94-100% A, 90-93% A-, 87-89% B+, 84-86% B, 80-83% B-, 77-79% C+, 70-76% C, 60-69% D, and below 60% F. Grades may be curved at the end of the semester.

Academic Honesty.  Dishonesty includes cheating on a test, falsifying data, misrepresenting the work of others as your own (plagiarism), and helping another student cheat or plagiarize. Academic dishonesty will result in a grade of zero on that particular assignment; serious infractions of the Academic Honesty policy will result in failure of the course. For complete information about the University's policy on Academic Honesty, consult the Student Handbook 2001-2002.

Attendance.  Class attendance is mandatory.  Although I do not have a rigid cut policy, anyone who has missed lots of classes and is doing poorly in the course should not expect much sympathy from me.  If you do miss a class, it is your responsibility to make up the material and make sure your homework is turned in on time.


August 27-
September 17
Number systems.  A comparative study of the earliest written number systems from around the world.  Discussion of base and place value.  History of the decimal system.
September 20 First test
September 20-
October 4
Arithmetic.  Algorithms for addition, subtraction, and multiplication of integers and why they work.  Use of the abacus.  Egyptian fractional notation.
October 11 Second test
October 8-
October 25
The ``Pythagorean'' Theorem.  Comparative study of the Pythagorean Theorem. 
October 25 First project due
November 1 Third test
November 5-
November 19
The Mathematics of Art.  Sona drawings and Eulerian paths.  Symmetry and the mathematics of patterns.
November 29 Fourth test
November 26-
December 10
The Mathematics of Music.  Fibonacci numbers, Pascal's Triangle, and the mathematics of drumming.
December 10 Second project due;  presentation of projects
December 12-18 Fifth test

This schedule is subject to change.

August 29, 2001