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Filmography - Mathematics: Home

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of June 2011

Mathematics Filmography

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of June 2011. 

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date holdings (including VHS tapes) please refer to the library ALADIN catalog (



3-2-1 classroom contact. 1993.  4 videocassettes. A combination of on-screen scientists at work and hands-on classroom activities which make science instruction engaging and accessible. Collect the data: To get accurate information, you sometimes have to observe your subject in its natural environment. When you do so it is essential to carefully record your observations. To illustrate these points film introduces students to scientists collecting data deep in the wood and deep underwater. -- Dig it up: Looks at the work of anthropologists who study people - where they live, what they eat, their customs and social relationships, and much more. Shows how archaeologists learn about prehistoric people and what they ate by relying on preserved evidence such as animal bones, shells, plant pollen, buried trash and even fossilized feces. Experiment: Looks at the experiment as one way to find out whether something is true. Shows how experiments must be designed so that only one question can be studied at a time and the necessity for all factors that might affect the experiment be considered and controlled. -- Make a model: Demonstrates how making a model can be a good way to find out about things that are very difficult to study firsthand, such as things that are very large, very small, very far away, or that lived a long time ago. Uses a model of the dinosaur to calculate its weight.  VHS 5859

Absolute value. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 9. 1 streaming video (20 min.). Program 9 defines this concept in detail, enabling students to use absolute value in equations and inequalities. Streaming video

Angles. 1999.  1 streaming video (14 min.). What is a vertex? And how does algebra figure into geometry? This program examines all things angular, including acute, right, obtuse, straight, adjacent, complementary, supplementary, and vertical angles. Four theorems are also introduced, along with the reflexive, substitution, and transitive properties. A proof of the congruency of vertical angles is performed as well. Streaming video

Applications of Quadratics. 1992.  1 streaming video (10 min.). Several common applications of quadratic equations are explained through real-world scenarios. Newton's law for describing the path of a projectile is examined, along with some static geometry problems that hinge on quadratics; in addition, a quadratic equation for motion is introduced. Streaming video

Arithmetic sequences and series. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 22. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 22 explores basic properties and formulas, emphasizing sums of arithmetic series and developing concepts. Streaming video

The birth of calculus. 1986?  Topics in the history of mathematics.  1 videodisc (25 min.). Explores the concepts of Newton and Leibniz and their influence on the development of calculus.  DVD 7474

Bows, Arrows, and Aircraft Carriers Moving: Bodies with Constant Mass. 1999.  1 streaming video (59 min.). In this program, geometry is combined with approximation to solve relatively complex problems involving shooting an arrow and landing an airplane on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Emphasizing the value of sketching as a visualization tool, the program also explains how the solution of the archery problem, through geometric inversion, can help solve the problem of a plane landing. Streaming video

Circle and parabola. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 11. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 11 using conic sections, takes a detailed look at circles and parabolas. Terminology and formulas for equations are discussed. Streaming video

Circular and Rotational Motion. 1999.  1 streaming video (22 min.). This program rounds out the subject of two-dimensional kinematics with a comprehensive examination of circular and rotational motion. Topics include centripetal force, centripetal acceleration, period, velocity, tangential acceleration, and total acceleration; axis of rotation, rotating through an angle, radians, angular velocity, and linear speed; and just a touch of geometry. Streaming video

Clouds Are Not Spheres: The Fractal Theory of Benoit Mandelbrot. 2000.  1 streaming video (57 min.). Both elegant and sublime, fractal geometry has taught mathematicians and scientists to see things differently while quantifying a new level of order in the natural world. In this captivating program, visionary mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot tells his life story as it relates to his spatial approach to problem solving and his scientific achievements. Supported by the insights of Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever and others, the documentary unifies the disparate periods of Mandelbrot's life around the recurring concept of iteration. Until fractal geometry became organized, my life had followed a fractal orbit,quips Dr. Mandelbrot. Streaming video

College algebra in simplest terms. 1991. 26 streaming videos (30 min. each). An overview of algebra and its relation to modern life. Streaming video

Complex numbers. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 6. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 6 complex numbers and their use in basic operations and quadratic equations are the focus of this program. Streaming video

Composition and inverse functions. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 14. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 14 uses graphics to introduce composites and inverses of functions as applied to cost and production level. Streaming video

Coordinates. 1995.  1 streaming video (20 min.). This video describes how to identify points, plot ordered pairs on a graph, use map coordinates to find locations, and apply graphical break-even analysis to linear functions. Dramatized segments and computer animations illustrate ways to describe positions on a game board by using coordinates; program an industrial robot to assemble TVs in a factory; use a road map while traveling; and evaluate the impact of franchise costs and product prices on profit at a frozen yogurt bar company. Streaming video

Curve Sketching. 1999.  1 streaming video (23 min.). How does art figure into calculus? This program illustrates applications of the derivative through graphing. Ably assisted by the Voice of Common Sense, elements such as critical points, points of inflection, extreme values, increasing and decreasing curves, and concavity are all plotted out, with abundant sample problems. Streaming video

Damping Simple Harmonic Motion. 1999.  1 streaming video (44 min.). This program investigates how the mathematical model of simple harmonic motion becomes more complex through the introduction of damping. The application of simple modeling techniques to create homogeneous linear second-order differential equations is illustrated. Streaming video

Definite Integrals and Riemann Sums. 1999.  1 streaming video (34 min.). How do definite and indefinite integrals differ? What do Riemann sums add up? And how far will Cowpokechase his dream? This program tells all, beginning with a thorough examination of definite integrals and Riemann sums. Then, the piece de resistance-the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus-is unveiled. A study of the area between two curves and the area between a curve and the x-axis rounds out the program. Streaming video

Derivative Rules and Tangent Lines. 1999.  1 streaming video (24 min.). What does an unemployed hardware salesman know about calculus? The answer to that and other questions can be found in this program, which features rugged tools for reducing the complexity of working with derivatives, including the Power Rule, e Rule, Natural Logarithm Rule, Product Rule, and Quotient Rule. Finding the equations of tangent lines and the Point-Slope Formula complete the program. Streaming video

Drawing: Perspectives on Line and Form. 2003.  1 streaming video (27 min.). This program concentrates on the importance of drawing to the different artistic disciplines as it addresses ongoing debates surrounding the representation of space. Drawing tools and materials are presented, and special attention is given to the application of geometry, the principal science of image construction. Classical and Renaissance theories of perspective are considered, as is the progressive disintegration of these theories by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Streaming video

Ellipse and hyperbola. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 12. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 12 discusses the equations for ellipses and hyperbolas, and demonstrates graphically how to develop the equation from each definition. Streaming video

The emergence of Greek mathematics. 1987.  Topics in the history of mathematics.  1 videodisc (25 min.). Traces mathematical thought and discusses concepts developed in the classical Greek culture. Presents the ideas of Euclid of Alexandria as well as other great mathematicians of ancient times.  DVD 7471

Everything under the Sun: Astronomy, Mathematics, and Islam. 1999.  1 streaming video (26 min.). Picking up mathematics and astronomy from where the ancient Greeks had left off, Arab scholars paved the way for the Copernican revolution and the rebirth of science in Europe. This program reveals the Empire of the Caliphate's role in developing the Indo-Arabic decimal system, algebra, and algorithms and in refining the science of optics and the Ptolemaic model of the solar system. The application of astronomy to sacred ends, such as accurately fixing the time for prayers, the direction of Mecca, and the start of Ramadan, is also considered. (Portions in French with English subtitles).  Streaming video

Exponential functions. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 18. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 18 covers graphing and developing the equation for an exponential function. Applications include bacteria growth, population growth, and radioactive decay. Streaming video

Exponents and radicals. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 3. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 11 using conic sections, takes a detailed look at circles and parabolas. Terminology and formulas for equations are discussed. Streaming video

Extrema and Max/Min Word Problems. 1999.  1 streaming video (34 min.). Behind every calculus problem, neatly packaged and ready to solve, is a word problem. But before coming to terms with word problems, this program examines local extrema and local maximums and minimums. Next, the first- and second-derivative tests for local extrema are studied. Finally, max/min word problems-like how to make packaging for Uncle Skippy's Premium Edible Dirt-are addressed, and the five-step process for solving them is applied. Streaming video

Factoring polynomials. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 4. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 12 discusses the equations for ellipses and hyperbolas, and demonstrates graphically how to develop the equation from each definition. Streaming video

The films of Charles & Ray Eames. 2000.  1 videodisc (46 min.). Powers of ten illustrates a picnic in Chicago and then begins moving ten times farther out every ten seconds, until our own galaxy is visible only as a speck of light. Then, we move inward into the hand of a sleeping picnicker with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. A rough sketch is an earlier version of the same concept illustrated in Powers of ten. 901 : after 45 years of working examines the Office of Charles and Ray Eames as it is being dismantled and cleaned out.  DVD 4281

Forces and Motion. 2010.  1 streaming video (24 min.). In New York City, there are many ways to travel. Of course, it's a lot easier if you're a bird. Using the Big Apple as a living laboratory, this program addresses speed and distance using a pigeon, a taxi, and a tour boat. Additional situations such as the deployment of a Mars rover, a zero-G flight in NASA's Weightless Wonder, a walk on a conveyor belt and a cruising aircraft carrier, and juggling on the Earth and around the Solar System provide opportunities to study the mechanics of velocity and acceleration as well as contact forces and forces that act at a distance. Vector algebra is demonstrated throughout. A viewable/printable instructor's guide is available online. A Films for the Humanities & Sciences Production. A part of the series Physics in Action. Streaming video

Formulas. 1992. 1 streaming video (15 min.). Statistics gathered from a fitness test are used by Ron Lancaster to illustrate how to work with formulas. He introduces a formula to calculate ideal weight, and then uses another formula that solves for weight, height, or body mass.

Formulas. 1995. 1 streaming video (20 min.). This video describes how to construct formulas and equations, solve equations with one variable, and use formulas in basic computer spreadsheets. Dramatized segments and computer animations demonstrate ways to predict future sales and costs of cordless phones at an electronics store by using spreadsheets; select an economical rental car by devising a formula to compare competing rates; and determine a small airplane’s gross weight before take-off. Streaming video

Fractals: An Animated Discussion. 1990.  1 streaming video (63 min.). Dazzling computer animation combined with the genius of Benoit Mandelbrot and Edward Lorenz present a captivating discussion of fractals and the fundamental concepts of fractal geometry-self-similarity and chaos. Mandelbrot uses a simple head of broccoli to demonstrate the complexity of fractals. Narrating over the three-dimensional animations, Mandelbrot discusses how fractals serve as an excellent model of irregular natural forms, such as coastlines, and how they relieve the scientist of the necessity of describing nature with simple geometric forms-clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones. The world of fractals is revealed, from the depths of the Mandelbrot set, to the Lorenz attractor. Streaming video

Fractals: The Colors of Infinity. 1994.  1 streaming video (52 min.). The Mandelbrot set-someone has called it the thumbprint of God-is one of the most beautiful and remarkable discoveries in the entire history of mathematics. With Arthur C. Clarke as narrator and interviews with a number of notable mathematicians, including Benoit Mandelbrot, this program graphically illustrates how simple formulas can lead to complicated results: it explains the set, what it means, its internal consistency, and the revolutions in thought resulting from its discovery. Asked if the real universe goes on forever, Stephen Hawking defines its limit of smallness; the Mandelbrot set, on the other hand, may go on forever. Streaming video

Fractions. 1995.  1 streaming video (20 min.). This video describes the meaning of fractions and how to solve problems involving sums and products. Dramatized segments and computer animations focus on adjusting ingredient amounts to vary the yield of recipes at a bakery; deciding whether to hire an untrained worker at a bike shop by projecting overtime wages and short-term productivity loss; and learning to read musical notation including fractional measures. Streaming video

The Frontiers of Space Mathematics: During the Scientific Revolution. 2008.  1 streaming video (59 min.). By the Scientific Revolution, great strides had been made in understanding the geometry of objects fixed in time and space; the race was now on to discover the mathematics of objects in motion. In this program, Professor Marcus du Sautoy investigates mathematical progress during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in Europe. Topics include the linking of algebra and geometry by Rene Descartes; the properties of prime numbers, discovered by Pierre Fermat; Isaac Newton's development of calculus; Leonhard Euler's development of topology; the modular arithmetic of Carl Friedrich Gauss; and the insights of Bernhard Riemann into the properties of objects. Original Open University title: The Frontiers of Space. A part of the series The Story of Math. Streaming video

Functions. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 13. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 13 defines a function, develops an equation from real situations, and discusses domain and range. Streaming video

Functions and Limits. 1999.  1 streaming video (24 min.). What is calculus, anyway, and how is it used? Answers to these and other questions can be found in section one of this program, along with a concise review of graphing and functions. Section two posits the intuitive definition of limits and follows up with numerous examples to demonstrate how to find a limit through substitution, factoring, and using conjugates. Streaming video

The Genius of the East: Mathematics During the Middle Ages. 2008.  1 streaming video (58 min.). During Europe's Middle Ages, mathematics flourished primarily on other shores. This program follows Professor Marcus du Sautoy as he discusses mathematical achievements of Asia, the Islamic world, and early-Renaissance Europe. Topics include China's invention of a decimal place number system and the development of an early version of sudoku; India's contribution to trigonometry and creation of a symbol for the number zero, as well as Indians' understanding of the concepts of infinity and negative numbers; contributions of the empire of Islam, such as the development of algebra and the solving of cubic equations; and the spread of Eastern knowledge to the West through mathematicians like Leonardo Fibonacci. Original Open University title: The Genius of the East. A part of the series The Story of Math. Streaming video

Geometric sequences and series. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 23. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 23 focuses on these concepts and determining the sum of their functions. Determining the size of retirement savings illustrates their use. Streaming video

Geometry Basics. 1999.  1 streaming video (19 min.). This program presents the building blocks that every student of geometry needs to understand. Topics addressed include inductive and deductive reasoning; terminology such as points, lines, planes, and space; six core postulates; five essential theorems; and how to express theorems in their statement, converse, inverse, contrapositive, and biconditional forms. Streaming video

A Gift for Math. 2000.  1 streaming video (52 min.). Endowed with an elementary representation mechanism, the human brain is naturally predisposed toward mathematics. This program seeks to understand the biological basis of humankind's gift for math-and why, beyond that baseline computational ability, some people are capable of scaling the highest peaks of mathematical comprehension. Experiments with animals, studies of very young children, cases involving patients with brain injuries, and analysis of brain imaging data are included. Streaming video

Graphs. 1995.  1 streaming video (20 min.). This video describes how to read, interpret, and evaluate data displayed in bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts. Dramatized segments and computer animations illustrate ways to determine the financial advantages of a staggered breeding schedule at a dairy farm; allocate rack space in a CD store, based on regional and local sales figures; and decide whether an athlete's physical characteristics indicate competition as a sprinter or as a distance runner. Streaming video

High Anxieties: The Mathematics of Chaos. 2008.  1 streaming video (59 min.). For centuries, Western society drew sustenance from Newtonian physics, classical economics, and other orderly systems of thought. But today's intellectual climate offers no such comforts, focusing instead on concepts like tipping points and global volatility. What created such a stark transformation? This program explores the history of chaos theory, shedding light on mathematical, philosophical, and real-world dynamics which have upended long-held notions of cosmic equilibrium. Delving into scientific and political history, the film invokes the research of Henri Poincare, Aleksandr Lyapunov, and Edward Lorenz while studying the clash between chaos and order in warfare, manufacturing, financial depressions, and digital technology. Distributed under license from BBC Worldwide. Streaming video

I. M. Pei and the Mathematics of Architecture. 1997.  1 streaming video (54 min.). The common link joining I. M. Pei's diverse creations is his use of simple mathematical concepts. Students of architecture, engineering, urban planning, and applied mathematics can all benefit from this engaging program in which the enthusiastic architect addresses the pyramid as a structural form, explains the impact of geometry and technology on building design, shares innovative solutions to space and ratio challenges, and defines the dynamic interplay between form and function. Signature buildings from around the world plus archival material illustrate Pei's reliance on mathematics to define his vision of public spaces. Streaming video

Inequalities. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 8. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 8 develops the basic properties and examines how to solve inequalities using polynomial and rational expressions. Streaming video

Inside Information: The Brain and How It Works. 1990.  1 streaming video (58 min.). This program explains research on the brain's processes: how individual parts of the brain work, how the brain uses pattern recognition rather than logic to interpret reality, which experiments with computer analogs have been successful and which have failed, and why. The program also provides interviews with some of the foremost researchers in the field, including neuroscientist John Hopfield, vision scientist V. S. Ramachandran, and physicist Carver Mead, who has a computer chip that can see. Streaming video

Introduction in ten parts. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 1. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 1 introduces several mathematical themes and emphasizes why college algebra is important in today’s world. Streaming video

Introduction to Math in Technology. 1998.  1 streaming video (12 min.). Introduction to Math in Technology is an eleven-minute video which is part of the series, Math in Technology. But why do I need math?Now, using this series, give students a clear, definitive, and logical answer. Math is necessary to get the job done in most technical fields, including auto mechanics, electricity/electronics, and the building trades. Each video shows real-life problem situations solved by using practical math and actual computations on the screen. Use Introduction to Math in Technology as an overview and then progress to specific topics. At last...a program to help your students succeed in the world of technical math. A Meridian Production.  Streaming video

Is God a Number? Maths that Mimic the Mind. 1998.  1 streaming video (53 min.). If mathematics underpins the elegant precision of the macroscopic and microscopic worlds, is there a Master Mathematician as well? This fascinating program examines the computational paradigms being used to model human consciousness and to quantify reality, from Euclidean geometry to fractal transform algorithms. Oxford mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, quantum physicist Reverend John Polkinghorne, compression technology expert Michael Barnsley, and physiologist Horace Barlow seek to understand how the brain functions-and grope for evidence of a guiding force. Outstanding computer graphics enhance this exploration of inner and outer space. Streaming video

Julia Robinson and Hilbert's tenth problem. 2008.  1 videodisc (54 min.). "Julia Robinson was the first woman elected to the mathematical section of the National Academy of Sciences, and the first woman to become president of the American Mathematical Society. While tracing Robinson's contribution to the solution of Hilbert's tenth problem, the film illuminates how her work led to an unusual friendship between Russian and American colleagues at the height of the Cold War." -container.  DVD 4066

Kites: Modeling with Vectors. 1999.  1 streaming video (28 min.). After defining the basic concepts of vectors, this program uses algebra to determine how the resultant of numerous forces acting on a body can be obtained and then equated to the product of mass and acceleration. Kites are employed to exemplify both equilibrium and non-equilibrium conditions. Streaming video

Language of algebra. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 2. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 2 examines the vocabulary of mathematics, properties of the real number system, and basic axioms and theorems of college algebra. Streaming video

The liberation of algebra. 1987.  Topics in the history of mathematics.  1 videodisc (25 min.). Tells how discoveries in the nineteenth century led to re-examination of basic concepts of algebra. Discusses the work of William Hamilton, applied mathematician, and George Boole, who established the science of logic.  DVD 7475

Linear equations. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 5. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Program 5 covers how solutions are obtained, what they mean, and how to check them using one unknown. Streaming video

Linear Functions: An Introduction. 2009.  1 streaming video (21 min.). Linear functions are routinely used to model data, approximate change, and find the rate of change of a curve. In this program, Sharpie the Pencil shows students how to plot and sketch a linear graph from a linear equation and then how to derive a linear equation from a linear graph. In the process, the slope-intercept form of linear equation is illustrated, and the y-intercept and the gradient m are underscored as key ideas in determining the equation of a line. A part of the series Math. Streaming video

Linear Momentum and Newton's Laws of Motion. 1999.  1 streaming video (24 min.). In section one of this program, colliding basketball players demonstrate the Principle of Conservation of Momentum, while section two debuts all three of Newton's Laws of Motion, as illustrated by moving a large bookcase, hanging from a rope, and pushing against a wall. Newtonian concepts of inertia, force, mass, weight, equilibrium, tension, and momentum, plus free-body diagramming, are also covered. Live the laws, love the laws, be one with the laws. Streaming video

Linear relations. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 10. 1 streaming video (30 min.). In Program 10 linear equations are used to develop and give information about two quantities. Their applications to the slope of a line are also shown. Streaming video

Logarithmic functions. 1991. College algebra in simplest terms ; pt. 19. 1 streaming video (30 min.). In Program 19 understanding the logarithmic relationship, the use of logarithmic properties, and the handling of a scientific calculator are addressed. How radiocarbon dating and the Richter scale depend on the properties of logarithms is explained. Streaming video

Logic: The Structure of Reason. 2004.  1 streaming video (43 min.). As a tool for characterizing rational thought, logic cuts across many philosophical disciplines and lies at the core of mathematics and computer science. Drawing on Aristotle's Organon, Russell's Principia Mathematica, and other central works, this program tracks the evolution of logic, beginning with the basic syllogism. A sampling of subsequent topics includes propositional and predicate logic, Bayesian confirmation theory, Boolean logic, Frege's use of variables and quantifiers, Godel's work with meta-mathematics, the Vienna Circle's logical positivism, and the Turing machine. Commentary by Hilary Putnam, of Harvard University; NYU's Kit Fine; and Colin McGinn, of Rutgers University, is featured. Streaming video