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Mathematical Treasure: John Keill's 'Euclid's Elements'

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

John Keill (1671-1721) was a Scottish mathematician and an associate of Isaac Newton. His English language translation of Euclid’s Elements was published in 1723. The book became extremely popular and went through several editions to which appendices were added. Samuel Cunn, a textbook writer and translator of Newton’s Arithmetica who flourished in the first part of the eighteenth century, edited later copies of Keill’s work. An image of the title page of the 12th edition of 1782 of the geometry is shown below.

Both Keill and Cunn provided lengthy prefaces in which they discussed the state of English geometry in this period of history. The prefaces are especially informative about the controversy at that time concerning the learning and teaching of geometry. The full text is available to be viewed and read in the HathiTrust Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: John Keill's 'Euclid's Elements'," Convergence (January 2019)