This Course is Expired

The Number Mysteries

This ten week course we will take you all the way from the beginning of the number system to the very edges of the universe.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : Mathematics & Science

Function : General

Trainer name : Dr Thomas Woolley

Starts on : 1st Oct 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

Today, we inhabit a world that is full of technological advances which are only possible due to the huge leaps that science has made over the last few decades; the structure of DNA, the microchip, splitting the atom. Yet, as diverse as these major discoveries may seem, they are all understood through the language of mathematics.

Mathematics has come a long way from its humble origins of notches on a stick and through this ten week course we will take you all the way from the beginning of the number system to the very edges of the universe. Packed full of diverse activities to suit a wide range of learning styles, The Number Mysteries maths course is for anyone who wants to go on a mathematical odyssey which may change the way they think forever.

Course aims

  • give students a deeper knowledge and understanding of the concepts of number, shape, the role of logic and probability in game play, the role of mathematics in codes and the power of mathematical equations to predict the future;
  • provide students with activities that allow the students to interact with mathematics on a level which they may not considered before;
  • show how mathematics permeates many aspects of our daily lives;
  • aid the intuition of the participants when dealing with probability;
  • show the beauty behind the equations that mathematicians use.

This course will enable students to:

  • have confidence in situations where numerical processes are necessary.
  • question the statistical data that the media presents as fact.
  • organise problems logically, stating their assumptions and understanding their conclusions.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching Outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • mathematics is the language of the universe;
  • mathematics is more than just numbers;
  • intuition may not always be correct;
  • the power of proof;
  • mathematics allows us to explore theoretical systems without the need of physical experiment.

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • Discuss mathematical ideas competently.
  • Suggest possible applicable branches of mathematics to new problems.
  • Clarify and evaluate assumptions based on their applicability.
  • Aid their intuition through mathematical insights.
  • Transform known solutions to new problems.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in this course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:

  • du Sautoy, Marcus; The Number Mysteries [2010], Fourth Estate, Great Britain
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Course Content

  • The construction of the number system and the human relationship to it.
  • Proofs and prime numbers
  • Fractals
  • Topology
  • Probability Theory
  • Probabilistic games
  • Modulo arithmetic
  • Encryption
  • Mechanical System
  • Chaos and complex numbers


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