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Math History

Learn math alongside the people who invented and discovered it.

This course recounts both stories and specific, mathematical challenges from the lives and research of about a dozen famous—and infamous—mathematicians.

All of them made huge mistakes. Many of them struggled to get recognition for some of their best work. And they all died with unanswered questions, many of which we still don't know the answers to. Every single one left behind an astounding mathematical legacy.



Concepts and

  1. 1


    Explore breakthroughs made by several ancient cultures describing, executing, and analyzing calculation algorithms.

    1. Mathematical Stories

      Math is built up from beautiful patterns – and each one has many stories.

    2. Rectangle by Squaring

      Trust us, you're spoiled by base-10. Not everyone was so lucky.

    3. Egyptian Multiplication

      Egyptian mutliplication proceeds in surprisingly efficient ways.

    4. The Prime Sieve

      Prime numbers are nearly as mysterious today as they were 2000 years ago.

  2. 2

    Perfecting Patterns

    Learn about a fascinating branch of number theory alongside an ancient Greek mathematician who was obsessed with these ideas.

    1. Included with
      Brilliant Premium


      He was an active member in a cult of math and numbers – sound like anyone you know?

    2. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Even Patterns

      The powers of two organize themselves into pleasing arrangments.

    3. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Perfect Numbers

      Some numbers have too many divisors. Some don't have enough. But other numbers are just perfect.

    4. Included with
      Brilliant Premium

      Mersenne Primes

      Explore the connection between perfect numbers and a special kind of prime.

  3. 3

    Working with Nothing

    Navigate territory with treacherous traps like zero, infinity, and irrational numbers.

    Coming Soon
  4. 4

    Inventing Algebra

    Coming Soon
  5. 5

    Dueling Polynomials

    Coming Soon
  6. 6

    Calculating Machines

    Coming Soon