MAA Writing Awards
Descartes and Problem-Solving
Award: Carl B. Allendoerfer
Year of Award: 1996
Publication Information: Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 68(1995), pp. 83-97
Summary: What can Descarte's Geometry teach us about problem solving?
About the Author: (from Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 68 (1995)) Judy Grabiner became interested in Descartes' proof of the existence of Descartes ("I think, therefore I am") while earning her B.S. in Mathematics at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard. She teaches mathematics and the history of science at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, including a liberal arts course, "Mathematics, Philosophy, and the 'Real World'", in which the students read Descartes. Her writings include The Origins of Cauchy's Rigorous Calculus (MIT, 1981) and "The Centrality of Mathematics in the History of Western Thought" (Mathematics Magazine, 1988).