The pre-Hellenic period:

The ancient Greeks:

Thales of Miletus

The Pythagoreans





These pages aim to present some of the most important mathematical problems in chronological order. It is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation of each problem but to simply show the evolution of mathematical thought throughout history.

In each section there is an outline of the most relevant historical events of the era and the maps indicate the area of interest, both from a mathematical point of view.

Some pictures have been included (a bust, a painting, a commemorative stamp etc.) to make the explanation more visual. The sources have been acknowledged.

Given that Descartes is basically a graphical tool, the criteria for selecting problems has been the ease with which they can be adapted for the characteristic windows of the program

Some animations have been included to help the student understand certain graphical constructions.

Whenever possible, interactive activities have been included in the windows. In each window the initial parameters in the problems can be altered and the diagram will change accordingly.

  • To make students aware of the most important mathematicians from the past.
  • To understand the background events of the period during which these mathematicians lived.
  • To explain the whys and wherefores of the areas which are included within the subject of mathematics.
  • To make students aware of certain mathematical ideas which, in their beginnings, were used to solve practical problems. This knowledge, however, rather than giving exact results, often only went as far as providing approximate calculations, some of which were more justified than others. Nevertheless, thanks to the collaboration and brilliant genius of several men who dedicated their lives to extending our knowledge of mathematics, this knowledge evolved and more accurate ideas emerged.

  Rosa Jiménez Iraundegui
Spanish Ministry of Education. Year 2001