Rafael Bombelli (1526-1572) was an Italian mathematician involved with the development of algebra in the 16th century. He envisioned writing a comprehensive algebra book of five volumes; however, the task proved exhaustive, and he ended up publishing a three-volume algebra book in 1572,* L’Algebra Opera*. Included in this work was a translation of Diophantus’ *Arithmetica*. Bombelli died before completing the last two intended volumes. The title page for the 1579 edition of *L’Algebra* is shown here.

This is the first page of text for Bombelli’s *L’Algebra.* In this book, the author introduced the reader to complex numbers and their operations and promoted symbolic notation. Another copy of the 1579 printing is also available from *Convergence*.

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

Index to Mathematical Treasures