This book attempts to fill two gaps which exist in the standard textbooks on the History of Mathematics. One is to provide the students with material that could encourage more critical thinking. General textbooks, attempting to cover three thousand or so years of mathematical history, must necessarily oversimplify just about everything, the practice of which can scarcely promote a critical approach to the subject. For this, a more narrow but deeper coverage of a few select topics is called for. The second aim is to include the proofs of important results which are typically neglected in the modern history of mathematics curriculum. The most obvious of these is the oft-cited necessity of introducing complex numbers in applying the algebraic solution of cubic equations. This solution, though it is now relegated to courses in the History of Mathematics, was a major occurrence in history. It was the first substantial piece of mathematics in Europe that was not a mere extension of what the Greeks had done and thus signified the coming of age of European mathematics. The fact that the solution, in the case of three distinct real roots to a cubic, necessarily involved complex numbers both made inevitable the acceptance and study of these numbers and provided a stimulus for the development of numerical approximation methods.

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