In this course we explore the computational techniques by which society survived and thrived before the advent of the integrated circuit and the electronic calculator. From the commerce of early civilizations until the last third of the 20th century, there was a progression of mechanical calculating gadgets, some simple – some quite ingenious and complex. Among these we will study slide rules, planimeters, integrators, digital adding machines, nomographs, and other special charts and graphical techniques. We will also cover celestial navigation, which in its day was a particularly important application of calculation; technical drawing and perspective, the precursors to computer graphics; and cryptography, whose computational requirements helped propel us into the electronic age. Laboratory sessions will give students direct experience using antique and period calculating instruments, plus the opportunity to create their own calculating devices.
Introductory Calculus (Math 3, or equivalent, or permission)