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Mathematical Treasure: Arithmetic of Diophantus

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Diophantus of Alexandria (fl. 250) is remembered for his work in algebra. His magnum opus was his Arithmetike, which he claimed to have composed in thirteen books. However, only six books are known to exist in their original Greek form. Claude Bachet (1581-1638) published a Latin translation of Books I-VI of Diophantus's Arithmetica in 1621.

The images below are from the 1670 edition of Bachet's 1621 publication of Books I-VI of the Arithmetic of Diophantus. In addition to the translation into Latin and commentary by Bachet, editor Samuel Fermat included printed versions of the marginal notes famously made by his father, Pierre de Fermat (1607-1665), in the margins of a copy of Bachet's earlier edition.

In 1968, an Arabic manuscript was found claiming to contain books IV-VII of Diophantus's work. Jacques Sesiano published his English translation of this manuscript in 1982 in his Books IV to VII of Diophantus' 'Arithmetica' in the Arabic translation attributed to Qusta ibn Luqa.

The images above are provided courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, George Arthur Plimpton Collection.

See also "Mathematical Treasure: Bachet's Arithmetic of Diophantus" for images from another copy of this book, including two pages of typewritten versions of Fermat's annotations.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Arithmetic of Diophantus," Convergence (May 2018)