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Mathematical Treasure: Michael Stifel's Deutsche Arithmetica

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Michael Stifel (1487-1567) was one of Germany’s outstanding mathematicians and teachers. His Deutsche arithmetica (1545) was a basic arithmetic in three parts: use of the table abacus, simple algebra, and Church calendrical reckoning.

Title page of Deutsche arithmetica by Michael Stifel, 1545

The image above was 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: Michael Stifel's Deutsche Arithmetica," Convergence (August 2018)