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Mathematical Treasure: Oliver Byrne’s Treatise on Spherical Trigonometry

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

Oliver Byrne (1810-1890) was a British civil engineer and a prolific and innovative author of mathematics and science books. He is best known for his experimental edition of Euclid’s Elements (1847). This is his Short Practical Treatise on Spherical Trigonometry (1835).

Title page from Oliver Byrne's 1835 textbook on spherical trigonometry.

At the beginning of the text, on pages 3 to 6, Byrne introduced a technique for orienting spherical triangles using one’s hand.

Page 3 from Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.Page 4 of Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.

Page 5 of Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.Page 6 of Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.

Pages 29-31 provide further elaboration on this method of finger-referencing in working with spherical triangles.

Page 29 of Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.Page 30 of Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.

Page 31 of Byrne's textbook on spherical trigonometry.

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: Oliver Byrne’s Treatise on Spherical Trigonometry," Convergence (February 2017)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED