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Mathematical Treasure: 17th Century Student's Notes

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

These are selections from a 17th century English university student’s mathematical notes (Plimpton MS 244). The notebook had several listed owners, the first of which was a “William Derham”; whether he was the original author remains unknown. A page written in English is devoted to the extraction of roots. The name “Phillipps” at the top denotes a later owner (folio 1).

Folio 1 of a 17th century English university student's mathematical notes

At this time, university instruction was in Latin. Thus, a copied problem as given by the professor is in this language (folio 24v):

Folio 24 (verso) of a 17th century English university student's mathematical notes

"The Second Book of Euclid Algebraically Demonstrated" includes algebraic as well as geometric representations of propositions from Book II of Euclid’s Elements (folio 33).

Folio 33 of a 17th century English university student's mathematical notes

The images above have been obtained through the kind cooperation of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the Columbia University Libraries. These and more images may be accessed via Digital Scriptorium, a digital collection of medieval and early Renaissance manuscripts made available by a consortium of cooperating university libraries headed by the University of California, Berkeley. 

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: 17th Century Student's Notes," Convergence (June 2018)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED