Printing the Hindu-Arabic numbers

Arte dell’Abbaco, a book that many consider the first-ever printed mathematics book, was dated four hundred and forty years ago on 10 December 1478. I say many consider because the book, also known as the Treviso Arithmetic, is a commercial arithmetic textbook and some historians regard commercial arithmetic as a separate discipline and not really mathematics.

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Calculation from the Arte dell’Abbaco

The unknown author explains his book thus:

I have often been asked by certain youths in whom I have much interest, and who look forward to mercantile pursuits, to put into writing the fundamental principles of arithmetic, commonly called abbacus.

The Treviso Arithmetic is actually an abbacus book, those books on calculating with the Hindu-Arabic numerals that derive their existence from Leonardo Pisano’s Liber Abbaci. Like most abbacus books it is written in the vernacular, which in this case is the local Venetian dialect. If you don’t read 15thcentury Venetian there is an English translation by Frank J. Swetz, Capitalism and Arithmetic: The New Math of the 15thCentury Including the Full Text of the Treviso Arithmetic of 1478, Open Court, 1987.

5 Comments

Filed under Early Scientific Publishing, History of Mathematics, Renaissance Science, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Printing the Hindu-Arabic numbers

  1. Leonard Pisano a.k.a. Fibonacci. He gets lots of ink for the Fibonacci sequence. But many seem oblivious to his substantial contribution to western civilization.
    Fermat’s another underrated mathematician. Lots of attention to his last theorem. But few seem to know about Fermat’s contributions to analytic geometry and calculus.

    • Follow the link, I have a whole blog post about Leonardo Pisano and his Liber Abbaci. BTW the name Fibonnaci was created by a 19th century historian and was never used by Leonardo.

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