Mathematical Treasures - Maseres on Polynomial Equations

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Francis Maseres (1731–1824) was a London lawyer and supporter of and dabbler in mathematics. In his life, he had a varied career, which included serving as the Attorney General of the British Province of Quebec. Maseres subsidized the publication of several mathematical works and also published his own tracts on various topics in mathematics. He did not support calculus and found difficulties with the concepts of negative numbers. In his tract of 1803, Resolution of Cubick and Biquadratic Equations, he summarized and discussed the work of several mathematicians on higher degree equations.

In this section of the tract, Maseres considered the work of Ludovico (Lewis) Ferrari (1522-1565).

On page 213 begins a discussion of Girolamo Cardano’s (1501-1576) technique for solving the cubic equation.

Page 112 introduces the work of Thomas Harriot (1560-1621) on algebraic equations.

These images from its George Arthur Plimpton Collection are presented through the courtesy of the Columbia University Libraries.

Index to Mathematical Treasures