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Assignment #1

Complete 15 of the following problems. Include all work and

explanation needed to fully answer the question. For some questions
you will need to reference your book, so please keep it handy. If you
do research please be sure to properly cite your sources. Each
problem will be worth 10 points, so please be sure to read the rubric in
the lessons section to make sure you know what is expected to receive
full credit.
Note: Please label the problems as they are labeled here. So, if you
start with #3 then start with #3. Just be sure you do 15 problems.



What is the difference between an epistemological and

metaphysical question? Give an example of each (not one
listed in the book) and describe how each are useful in
a. Metaphysical questions are generally of the form What is
Real? And What really Exists? Epistemological questions
are of the form What is Knowledge? and How did we come
to know the things that we know? An example to
differentiate can be demonstrated with the following
example. Let us consider that a Magician claims to Walk on
water. Metaphysics asks the question Can he really walk
on water? But Epistemology asks the question What is
the science behind making a man walk on water? In
simple words, metaphysics is the truth and epistemology is
the proof. Similar mathematical problems employ both of
these concepts in proving a claim. Trigonometry, Set
theory, Logic, Differential equation etc. use these concepts.
Why is a calendar needed by an organized society? Would a
very small society (consisting of, say, a few dozen families)
require a calendar if it engaged mostly in hunting, fishing,
and gathering vegetable food? What if the principal economic
activity involved following a reindeer herd? What if it involved
tending a herd of domestic animals? Finally, what if it
involved planting and tending crops?
Page 22 in the book problem 2.2.
On page 23-24 read problems 2.3 2.5. After reading and
analyzing the information found there please tell me what you
would recommend the contestant do and why.
What special circumstances made it possible to decipher the
cuneiform tablets?




What other bases, besides 10 and 60 have you heard of being

used? Suppose one person was using base 7 and another
base 12. What advantages would each have over the other?
a. Other bases used nowadays are base 2 (binary), base 8
(Octal) and base 16 (Hexa). A base 12 number system can
be easily used for counting prime numbers. All fractions
that have no prime facts other than the numbers 2 and 3
will have a decimal representation. But a base 12 system
will have too many numbers. On the other hand, a base 7
system will have only 7 numbers and it will be easy for
mathematical and numerical calculations. But for solving
bigger problems, a base 12 will be more advantageous.
How might a sexagesimal system have originated in the first
place, since by far the commonest bases used throughout the
world are 10, 5 and 20?
a. The origin of this system from the possibility that people
can count to 12 using only one hand. The thumb is used to
point to each bone in the finger until it reaches all the 12
bones in the four fingers of the right hand. The left hand
fingers were used to count the number of iterations. This
can continue to five iterations representing each fingers of
the left hand. Hence a total of 60 number counts are
possible. This system is still followed in some parts of Asia
Find two numbers whose difference is 4 and whose product is
76/9 using the standard Mesopotamian technique. Show all
In what sense did the Mesopotamian authors do algebra?
Did they have the concept of an equation or a classification of
types of equations?
Give an example of a mathematical technique developed in
Mesopotamia and extended to solve problems more general
than the model on which it is based.
For what purpose is it important to be able to find two
numbers given their sum and product? Is there any practical
application of this technique in everyday life?
Why is it misleading to talk about the Babylonian value of
In what everyday applications might some of the geometric
problems discussed in chapter 5 (such as finding the volume
of a frustum of a pyramid) be useful?
Multiply 27 times 42 the Egyptian way.
Problem 7.1 on page 76 in the textbook.




Find the height of the pyramid with a square base of side 140
cubits and seked equation to 5 4 (Problem 57 of the Rhind
13 to stand for what we call 13 ? What
Why not simply write 13
is the reason for using two or three other parts instead of
these two obvious parts?
We would naturally
in the Rhind
solve many of the problems
papyrus using an equation. Would it be appropriate to say
that the Egyptians solved equations, or that they did algebra?
What do you imagine was the social position of Ahmose, who
wrote the Rhind papyrus? What were his normal duties, and
for what purpose did he undertake this labor?