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Mathematical Treasure: Dave Eugene Smith's Rara Arithmetica

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

David Eugene Smith (1860-1944) was a moving force in mathematics education and the history of mathematics as a discipline of study. He published many works in these areas. Perhaps his most memorable and referenced book is Rara Arithmetica, published in two volumes in 1908. This is an annotated catalogue of pre-1600 mathematics books in the Plimpton Collection, Columbia University Libraries.

Front cover of Volume I of Rara Mathematica by David Eugene Smith, 1908

Title page of Rara Mathematica by David Eugene Smith, 1908

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.

Erwin Tomash (1921-2012) was a pioneering computer scientist, helping launch the U.S. computer industry from the 1940s onward. During the 1970s he became interested in the history of computer science, and founded the Charles Babbage Society, and its research arm, the Charles Babbage Institute. The Institute, an archive and research center, is housed at the University of Minnesota. Its Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing began with Tomash's 2009 donation to the Institute of much of his own collection of rare books from the history of mathematics and computing. (Source: Jeffrey R. Yost, Computer Industry Pioneer: Erwin Tomash (1921-2012), IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, April-June 2013, 4-7.)

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Dave Eugene Smith's Rara Arithmetica," Convergence (August 2018)

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