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Choosing a topic for your mathematics term paper

For many students, the first mathematics term paper they’ve been assigned comes as a surprise. This can be blamed on the fact that in grade school, math coursework is treated almost entirely as an exercise in memorizing formulas. However, at the university level, mathematics term papers aren’t uncommon. There are a number of different topic types one can choose from, and an almost infinite array of specific subjects.

Students can choose topics with a historical bent, like discussion of the contributions of a famous mathematician to the field or the history of certain challenging concepts as explored by mathematicians over time. There are also interesting topics to be found in the field of practical mathematics; sports statistics, financial topics, and others are available.

Here is a short list of some interesting topics to choose from:

  • Math and Cryptography
  • Cryptography is a vital (and increasingly important) technology for people in contemporary times, and we often now depend upon complex computers to encrypt and decrypt information. The science and art of cryptography, however, owes its roots to the discoveries and inventions of early mathematicians.

  • Notable discoveries
  • The Nobel Prize and other very prestigious awards have been given in the past for math related discoveries; these are excellent subject matter for a term paper.

  • How math is taught (and learned)
  • Today’s grade schoolers may be learning concepts far more advanced than some of their distant ancestors. How have educational advances contributed to continuing our accumulation of knowledge about the field?

  • Interest (debt and income)
  • A discussion of differing types of interest, how it accrues, and the factors that affect it can be a great topic. Students can choose from topics related to saving money as well as those related to financing large purchases.

  • Zero and Infinity
  • Both of these topics have plagued mathematicians and scientists since the beginning of history. Even today, there are some questions about them which modern mathematicians can only speculate about.

  • Math and Culture
  • Different nations have made different contributions to the field over the course of human history. Imagine how difficult calculations would be if the Roman numerical system were still in use, for example. Highlighting one of these contributions and discussion of how it spread around the world can be a very fruitful topic for a term paper.

  • Current events
  • Not everything interesting in relation to math took place in the distant past; look to current events for math related topics, too.