Background sources like encyclopedias can provide context for your topic, or even help you choose one. They are great places to start because:

- they explain topics in simpler language than scholarly articles
- they are much shorter (often just a just a page or two, instead of the 20 pages or more found in a scholarly article or the hundreds of pages found in a book)
- they highlight important issues, figures, dates, and/or events that you may want to focus on in your paper or project
- they give you suggested sources for further research in the form of bibliographies or works cited

The following are recommended encyclopedias in your field. You can read them online 24/7.

- The Princeton Companion to Mathematics by Timothy Gowers (Editor); June Barrow-Green (Editor); Imre Leader (Editor)Call Number: E-BookPublication Date: 2008Introduces basic mathematical tools and vocabulary; trace the development of modern mathematics; explain essential terms and concepts; examine core ideas in major areas of mathematics; describe the achievements of scores of famous mathematicians; explore the impact of mathematics on other disciplines such as biology, finance, and music--and much, much more.
- The Words of Mathematics: An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms used in English by Steven SchwartzmanCall Number: E-BookPublication Date: 2012The Words of Mathematics explains the origins of over 1500 mathematical terms used in English. Although some of the entries are highly technical, the book explains them in plain English.
- Encyclopedia of Mathematics and SocietyCall Number: E-BookPublication Date: 2012Presents some 490 articles showing the math behind our daily lives. Explains how and why math works, and allows readers to better understand how disciplines such as algebra, geometry, calculus, and others affect what we do every day.
- A Handbook of Essential Mathematical Formulae by Diane Crann; Alan DaviesCall Number: E-BookPublication Date: 2005This handbook contains vital information and formulas for algebra, geometry, calculus, numerical methods, and statistics. Comprehensive tables of standard derivatives and integrals, together with the tables of Laplace, Fourier, and Z transforms are included.

Hutchins Library also has a large collection of print enyclopedias that you can access in person in the Reference area on the main floor.

- The CRC Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Third Edition - 3 Volume Set by Eric W. WeissteinCall Number: 510.3 C911 2009 v.1-3 (Location: Reference)Publication Date: 2009Each article provides definitions, formulas, illustrations, web links, bibliographic information, and facts from mathematics, the sciences, and engineering.
- The Princeton Companion to Mathematics by Timothy Gowers (Editor)Call Number: 510 P9565 2008 (Location: Reference)Publication Date: 2008Introduces basic mathematical tools and vocabulary; trace the development of modern mathematics; explain essential terms and concepts; examine core ideas in major areas of mathematics; describe the achievements of scores of famous mathematicians; explore the impact of mathematics on other disciplines such as biology, finance, and music--and much, much more.

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