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Mathematical Treasure: Anonymous German Arithmetic

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

An anonymous German manuscript from around 1600 bears no title but can be considered a “Treatise on Arithmetic” (Plimpton MS 212).  The text just begins with no identifications given:

Folio 2 of anonymous German arithmetic manuscript, circa 1600

The reading and writing of decimal numbers up to our billion is discussed on the left, while an addition example is demonstrated on the right.      

Folios 3 (verso) and 4 of anonymous German arithmetic manuscript, circa 1600

The relationships between arithmetic, geometry, harmonics [music], and astronomy are noted and discussed.

Folios 186 (verso) and 187 of anonymous German arithmetic manuscript, circa 1600

Properties of numbers are explained via diagrams.

Folios 98 (verso) and 99 of anonymous German arithmetic manuscript, circa 1600

Finally, near the end of the manuscript, a table reviewing the forms of the numbers is provided for reference and perhaps practice.

Folios 197 (verso) and 198 of anonymous German arithmetic manuscript, circa 1600

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: Anonymous German Arithmetic," Convergence (June 2018)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED