The steamer, Katie, leaves the wharf at New Orleans and runs an average speed of 15 mph. When Katie had gone 25 miles, the steamer R.E. Lee leaves the wharf and runs the average speed of 18 mph. How far will the Lee go before she overtakes the Katie?
This is the title page of the Treatise of Algebra (1685), by John Wallis. This is probably the first attempt at a history of the subject of algebra, presented in the context of a text on the subject. Among the most famous parts of this treatise is Wallis's discussion of the work of Thomas Harriot, especially his contention that Rene Descartes plagiarized Harriot's symbolization procedure in algebra.