Before the modern age and the worldwide spread of knowledge, written examples of new mathematical developments have come to light only in a few locales. The most ancient mathematical texts available are Plimpton 322 (Babylonian mathematics c. 1900 BC),[2] the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (Egyptian mathematics c. 2000-1800 BC)[3] and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (Egyptian mathematics c. 1890 BC). All of these texts concern the so-called Pythagorean theorem, which seems to be the most ancient and widespread mathematical development after basic arithmetic and geometry.

The study of mathematics as a subject in its own right begins in the 6th century BC with the Pythagoreans, who coined the term "mathematics" from the ancient Greek μάθημα (mathema), meaning "subject of instruction".[4] Greek mathematics greatly refined the methods (especially through the introduction of deductive reasoning and mathematical rigor in proofs) and expanded the subject matter of mathematics.[5] Chinese mathematics made early contributions, including a place value system.[6][7] The Hindu-Arabic numeral system and the rules for the use of its operations, in use throughout the world today, likely evolved over the course of the first millennium AD in India and were