University of Notre Dame

Mathematics in Architecture

Course Number: MATH 10270
Instructor: Richard Hind

This is a second mathematics course for Arts and Letters and Architecture students. As the Roman architect Vitruvius pointed out 2000 years ago, architecture is a broad enterprise bringing together virtually all the elements of the human experience: spirituality, intelligence and creativity, economics, politics and sociology, as well as aesthetics, structural engineering, and mathematics. The agenda of this course has a focus on the last three: aesthetics, structural aspects, and related mathematics. The architecture of the world’s great historic buildings will be the environment in which the narrative of this course is developed. The aesthetic and structural properties of these structures will be described following a chronological line. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, this discussion will be informed by basic modern mathematics (such as geometry, trigonometry, and calculus). While the mathematical comments about the buildings considered are standard by today’s criteria, they would (for the most part) have been beyond the reach of the architects who built them.