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Mathematical Treasure: Montucla's History of Mathematics

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Jean Étienne Montucla (1725-1799) was a French mathematician who perhaps is best remembered for his five-volume history of mathematics, Histoire des Mathématiques (1799-1802), much of which was published posthumously. This work was the most complete history of mathematics published until this time. Volume I considered the beginnings of mathematics until the fall of the Greek Empire; each successive volume expanded the chronology of the development of mathematics. Volume V, the last book in the series, discusses mathematics in the West up to the beginnings of the 17th century.

Title page from Montucla's History of Mathematics (1799-1802)

The first page of text offers a “Summary” of what is to follow.

First page of Montucla's History of Mathematics (1799-1802)

These images were obtained through the courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. The book may be viewed in its entirety at e-rara:

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Montucla's History of Mathematics," Convergence (July 2017)