The area of study known as the history of mathematics is primarily an investigation into the origin of discoveries in mathematics and, to a lesser extent, an investigation into the mathematical methods and notation of the past.
Before the modern age and the worldwide spread of knowledge, written examples of new mathematical developments have come to light only in a few locales. The most ancient mathematical texts available are Plimpton 322 (Babylonian mathematics c. 1900 BC), the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (Egyptian mathematics c. 2000-1800 BC), and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (Egyptian mathematics c. 1890 BC). All of these texts concern the so-called Pythagorean theorem, which seems to be the most ancient and widespread mathematical development after basic arithmetic and geometry.
The study of mathematics as a subject in its own right begins in the 6th century BC with the Pythagoreans, who coined the term "mathematics" from the ancient Greek μάθημα (mathema), meaning "subject of instruction". Greek mathematics greatly refined the methods (especially through the introduction of deductive reasoning and mathematical rigor in proofs) and expanded the subject matter of mathematics. Chinese mathematics made early contributions, including a place value system. The Hindu-Arabic numeral system and the rules for the use of its operations, in use throughout the world today, likely evolved over the course of the first millennium AD in India and was transmitted to the west via Islamic mathematics. Islamic mathematics, in turn, developed and expanded the mathematics known to these civilizations. Many Greek and Arabic texts on mathematics were then translated into Latin, which led to further development of mathematics in medieval Europe.
From ancient times through the Middle Ages, bursts of mathematical creativity were often followed by centuries of stagnation. Beginning in Renaissance Italy in the 16th century, new mathematical developments, interacting with new scientific discoveries, were made at an increasing pace that continues through the present day.Mathematics during the Scientific Revolution: 17th century
The 17th century saw an unprecedented explosion of mathematical and scientific ideas across Europe. Galileo observed the moons of Jupiter in orbit about that planet, using a telescope based on a toy imported from Holland. Tycho Brahe had gathered an enormous quantity of mathematical data describing the positions of the planets in the sky. Through his position as Brahe's assistant, Johannes Kepler was first exposed to and seriously interacted with the topic of planetary motion. Kepler's calculations were made simpler by the contemporaneous invention of logarithms by John Napier and Jost BÃ¼rgi. Kepler succeeded in formulating mathematical laws of planetary motion.  The analytic geometry developed by RenÃ© Descartes (1596â€“1650) allowed those orbits to be plotted on a graph, in Cartesian coordinates. Simon Stevin (1585) created the basis for modern decimal notation capable of describing all numbers, whether rational or irrational.
Building on earlier work by many predecessors, Isaac Newton discovered the laws of physics explaining Kepler's Laws, and brought together the concepts now known as infinitesimal calculus. Independently, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed calculus and much of the calculus notation still in use today. Science and mathematics had become an international endeavor, which would soon spread over the entire world.
In addition to the application of mathematics to the studies of the heavens, applied mathematics began to expand into new areas, with the correspondence of Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal. Pascal and Fermat set the groundwork for the investigations of probability theory and the corresponding rules of combinatorics in their discussions over a game of gambling. Pascal, with his wager, attempted to use the newly developing probability theory to argue for a life devoted to religion, on the grounds that even if the probability of success was small, the rewards were infinite. In some sense, this foreshadowed the development of utility theory in the 18thâ€“19th century.18th century
The most influential mathematician of the 18th century was arguably Leonhard Euler. His contributions range from founding the study of graph theory with the Seven Bridges of KÃ¶nigsberg problem to standardizing many modern mathematical terms and notations. For example, he named the square root of minus 1 with the symbol i, and he popularized the use of the Greek letter \pi to stand for the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. He made numerous contributions to the study of topology, graph theory, calculus, combinatorics, and complex analysis, as evidenced by the multitude of theorems and notations named for him.
Other important European mathematicians of the 18th century included Joseph Louis Lagrange, who did pioneering work in number theory, algebra, differential calculus, and the calculus of variations, and Laplace who, in the age of Napoleon, did important work on the foundations of celestial mechanics and on statistics.20th century:
The 20th century saw mathematics become a major profession. Every year, thousands of new Ph.D.s in mathematics are awarded, and jobs are available in both teaching and industry.
In a 1900 speech to the International Congress of Mathematicians, David Hilbert set out a list of 23 unsolved problems in mathematics. These problems, spanning many areas of mathematics, formed a central focus for much of 20th-century mathematics. Today, 10 have been solved, 7 are partially solved, and 2 are still open. The remaining 4 are too loosely formulated to be stated as solved or not.
A map illustrating the Four Color Theorem
Notable historical conjectures were finally proven. In 1976, Wolfgang Haken and Kenneth Appel used a computer to prove the four color theorem. Andrew Wiles, building on the work of others, proved Fermat's Last Theorem in 1995. Paul Cohen and Kurt GÃ¶del proved that the continuum hypothesis is independent of (could neither be proved nor disproved from) the standard axioms of set theory. In 1998 Thomas Callister Hales proved the Kepler conjecture.
Mathematical collaborations of unprecedented size and scope took place. An example is the classification of finite simple groups (also called the "enormous theorem"), whose proof between 1955 and 1983 required 500-odd journal articles by about 100 authors, and filling tens of thousands of pages. A group of French mathematicians, including Jean DieudonnÃ© and AndrÃ© Weil, publishing under the pseudonym "Nicolas Bourbaki", attempted to exposit all of known mathematics as a coherent rigorous whole. The resulting several dozen volumes has had a controversial influence on mathematical education.
Newtonian (red) vs. Einsteinian orbit (blue) of a lone planet orbiting a star, with relativistic precession of apsides
Differential geometry came into its own when Einstein used it in general relativity. Entire new areas of mathematics such as mathematical logic, topology, and John von Neumann's game theory changed the kinds of questions that could be answered by mathematical methods. All kinds of structures were abstracted using axioms and given names like metric spaces, topological spaces etc. As mathematicians do, the concept of an abstract structure was itself abstracted and led to category theory. Grothendieck and Serre recast algebraic geometry using sheaf theory. Large advances were made in the qualitative study of dynamical systems that PoincarÃ© had begun in the 1890s. Measure theory was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Applications of measures include the Lebesgue integral, Kolmogorov's axiomatisation of probability theory, and ergodic theory. Knot theory greatly expanded. Quantum mechanics led to the development of functional analysis. Other new areas include, Laurent Schwarz's distribution theory, fixed point theory, singularity theory and RenÃ© Thom's catastrophe theory, model theory, and Mandelbrot's fractals. Lie theory with its Lie groups and Lie algebras became one of the major areas of study.
Non-standard analysis, introduced by Abraham Robinson, rehabillitated the infinitesimal approach to calculus, which had fallen into disrepute in favour of the theory of limits, by extending the field of real numbers to the Hyperreal numbers which include infinitesimal and infinite quantities.
The development and continual improvement of computers, at first mechanical analog machines and then digital electronic machines, allowed industry to deal with larger and larger amounts of data to facilitate mass production and distribution and communication, and new areas of mathematics were developed to deal with this: Alan Turing's computability theory; complexity theory; Claude Shannon's information theory; signal processing; data analysis; optimization and other areas of operations research. In the preceding centuries much mathematical focus was on calculus and continuous functions, but the rise of computing and communication networks led to an increasing importance of discrete concepts and the expansion of combinatorics including graph theory. The speed and data processing abilities of computers also enabled the handling of mathematical problems that were too time-consuming to deal with by pencil and paper calculations, leading to areas such as numerical analysis and symbolic computation. Some of the most important methods and algorithms of the 20th century are: the simplex algorithm, the Fast Fourier Transform, error-correcting codes, the Kalman filter from control theory and the RSA algorithm of public-key cryptography.
At the same time, deep insights were made about the limitations to mathematics. In 1929 and 1930, it was proved the truth or falsity of all statements formulated about the natural numbers plus one of addition and multiplication, was decidable, i.e. could be determined by some algorithm. In 1931, Kurt GÃ¶del found that this was not the case for the natural numbers plus both addition and multiplication; this system, known as Peano arithmetic, was in fact incompletable. (Peano arithmetic is adequate for a good deal of number theory, including the notion of prime number.) A consequence of GÃ¶del's two incompleteness theorems is that in any mathematical system that includes Peano arithmetic (including all of analysis and geometry), truth necessarily outruns proof, i.e. there are true statements that cannot be proved within the system. Hence mathematics cannot be reduced to mathematical logic, and David Hilbert's dream of making all of mathematics complete and consistent needed to be reformulated.
The absolute value of the Gamma function on the complex plane.
One of the more colorful figures in 20th-century mathematics was Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan (1887â€“1920), an Indian autodidact who conjectured or proved over 3000 theorems, including properties of highly composite numbers, the partition function and its asymptotics, and mock theta functions. He also made major investigations in the areas of gamma functions, modular forms, divergent series, hypergeometric series and prime number theory.
Paul Erdős published more papers than any other mathematician in history, working with hundreds of collaborators. Mathematicians have a game equivalent to the Kevin Bacon Game, which leads to the Erdős number of a mathematician. This describes the "collaborative distance" between a person and Paul Erdős, as measured by joint authorship of mathematical papers.
As in most areas of study, the explosion of knowledge in the scientific age has led to specialization: by the end of the century there were hundreds of specialized areas in mathematics and the Mathematics Subject Classification was dozens of pages long. More and more mathematical journals were published and, by the end of the century, the development of the world wide web led to online publishing.21st century:
In 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute announced the seven Millennium Prize Problems, and in 2003 the PoincarÃ© conjecture was solved by Grigori Perelman (who declined to accept an award on this point).
Most mathematical journals now have online versions as well as print versions, and many online-only journals are launched. There is an increasing drive towards open access publishing, first popularized by the arXiv.Future of mathematics:
Main article: Future of mathematics
There are many observable trends in mathematics, the most notable being that the subject is growing ever larger, computers are ever more important and powerful, the application of mathematics to bioinformatics is rapidly expanding, the volume of data to be analyzed being produced by science and industry, facilitated by computers, is explosively expanding.