You are here

Mathematical Treasure: Montucla's First Historical Work

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

Title page for 1831 edition of Montucla's history of circle quadrature.

Jean-Étienne Montucla (1725-1799) was a French mathematician. In 1754 he published anonymously Histoire des Recherches sur la Quadratur du Cercle. In 1758, he published the first part of Histoire des mathematique, which can be considered the forerunner of modern history of mathematics books. His work was later completed by a colleague, the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande (1732-1807). It was published in Paris in four volumes in 1799-1802. Here is the cover page for an 1831 edition of Montucla’s first work.

Page ix from 1831 edition of Montucla's history of circle quadrature.Page x from 1831 edition of Montucla's history of circle quadrature.

In his consideration of the Three Classical Problems of Ancient Greece, at the beginning of his book, Montucla presented a summary of previous efforts to solve these problems. Here on pages ix and x of this preliminary material are considerations of progress made using “modern geometry” and the new calculus.

This material is obtained through the courtesy of the University of California Libraries. A complete digital copy can be read on the Internet Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Montucla's First Historical Work," Convergence (February 2017)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED