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Mathematical Treasure: Blondel's Course of Mathematics

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

François Blondel (1618-1686) was an extremely talented and versatile individual. Among his many activities, the Frenchman was a military engineer, mathematician, architect, diplomat, prolific author, and respected teacher. In 1673, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics to the Grand Dauphin, the male heir apparent to the throne of France. The 1683 text Cours de mathematique contenant divers traitez was written for this task; however, it became so popular that it remained the principal mathematics text in France for over a century.

Title page of Cours de mathematique contenant divers traitez by François Blondel, 1683

On page 113, the conic sections are discussed.

Page 113 from Cours de mathematique contenant divers traitez by François Blondel, 1683

Blondel stressed the applications of mathematics throughout his book. Here, on page 139, the height of a cloud is determined through a use of geometry/trigonometry.

Page 139 from Cours de mathematique contenant divers traitez by François Blondel, 1683

The images above are provided courtesy of Columbia University Libraries. A copy of this work is also available in its entirety in Google Books.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Blondel's Course of Mathematics," Convergence (August 2018)

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