The Story of Maths

Watch The Story of Maths

  • TV-G
  • 2008
  • 1 Season
  • 7.9  (551)

The Story of Maths is a seven-part documentary series from BBC Four that takes viewers on a journey through the history of mathematics, exploring how it has developed and evolved throughout time. The show is hosted by mathematician and Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy, who guides the audience through the various eras of mathematical discovery and shows how each new discovery built upon the one before it.

The series is broken down into seven episodes, each focused on a specific aspect of math. The first episode, "The Language of the Universe," explores the origins of mathematical concepts like numbers and geometry, and how they have been used to understand the world around us. The second episode, "The Genius of the East," examines the contributions of ancient mathematicians in India, China, and the Islamic world, who developed innovations that laid the foundation for modern mathematics.

In subsequent episodes, the show moves on to the discoveries made during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment periods, as well as the development of important mathematical concepts like calculus, algebra, and geometry. Episodes also delve into the lives and work of some of the greatest mathematicians of all time, including Euler, Newton, Pythagoras, and Descartes.

Throughout the show, du Sautoy makes complex mathematical concepts accessible to a broad audience, using clear language and visual aids to make equations and ideas easier to understand. He also includes interviews with contemporary mathematicians to provide further insight into how the field is being developed today.

The series is filled with interesting anecdotes and historical stories, which make the material engaging and entertaining. For instance, viewers learn about the rivalry between Newton and Leibniz over who invented calculus first, as well as the mathematical games that were played in the royal court of medieval Baghdad. Each episode manages to make math feel not only relevant but fascinating, and du Sautoy has a way of keeping the viewer engaged throughout.

Overall, The Story of Maths is an educational and entertaining series that sheds light on a subject that is too often overlooked. By exploring the history of mathematics, viewers are able to see the significance of the field and the important role it has played in shaping our world. The show succeeds in making math accessible and fascinating, and serves as a reminder of the incredible human ingenuity that has gone into developing one of the world's oldest and most complex fields of study.

The Story of Maths
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To Infinity and Beyond
4. To Infinity and Beyond
October 27, 2008
After tackling 20th-century breakthroughs on infinity and the unknowable, Marcus du Sautoy considers the still-unsolved "holy grail" of mathematics.
The Frontiers of Space
3. The Frontiers of Space
October 20, 2008
Delving into the work of Descartes, Newton and others, Marcus du Sautoy explores advances in Europe and the race to describe objects in motion.
The Genius of the East
2. The Genius of the East
October 13, 2008
Marcus du Sautoy traces imperial China's mathematical legacy, the invention of the number zero in India and the dawn of algebra in the Middle East.
The Language of the Universe
1. The Language of the Universe
October 6, 2008
Marcus du Sautoy visits Egypt, Syria and Greece to show how ancient problem-solving spawned a decimal system, geometry and a system for telling time.
  • Premiere Date
    October 6, 2008
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (551)