Preparing for Test 1
Multicultural Mathematics
October 1, 2004


The test will be given in class on Friday, October 1st.  You may bring a calculator and a 3" x 5" index card (both sides) with any information you wish written on it.  The test will consist of multiple choice questions, partial credit questions, and essay questions.  You will have some choice of which questions to answer.

Essay Questions

You can choose to do one or both of the following essays on the test (however, you must do at least one).  Do the appropriate readings and, if you wish, make notes on your index card.

  1. A 15th century French writer called zero ``a sign which creates confusion and difficulties'' (Menninger, 1957;  p. 134 of your course packet).  More historical evidence of difficulties with zero is detailed in p.  123-4 and 134-5 in your couse packet,.  Explain, with examples, what confusions were caused by zero.  Given these difficulties, why was zero eventually adopted?
  2. Read p. 1-21 in your packet.  What is ethnomathematics, as defined by Marcia Ascher in the introduction to her book Ethnomathematics?  Give specific examples of ethnomathematical topics we discussed in class.  What are the differences and similarities between ethnomathematics and Joseph's definition of ``modern mathematics?'' Is ethnomathematics really mathematics?  Give reasons for your answer.
Reviewing for the test

Anything from the readings, class notes, quizzes, and homework assignments is fair game.  I expect you to know Egyptian numbers, Babylonian numbers, Roman numbers, and gubar numbers (and, obviously, Hindu-Arabic numbers!), but you don't have to know symbols and words for other systems.