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Mathematical Treasure: Paolo Dagomari’s 14th Century Arithmetic

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

Paolo Dagomari (c. 1282 – c. 1374) – also known as Paulus Geometrus, Paolo dell’Abbaco, and Paolo Arismetra – was a Florentine mathematician and astronomer. He was reputed to be an extremely skilled arithmetician and had his own reckoning school for the training of young merchants. Dagomari is credited with being the first mathematician to denote the spacing of thousands groupings within a string of digits by the use of a period or comma. His arithmetic manuscript Trattato dell'abbaco was written in 1339. The first folio is shown below:

First folio from Trattato dell'abbaco by Paolo Dagomari, 1339

On the following pages, various problem situations are considered, accompanied by illustrations.

Second folio from Trattato dell'abbaco by Paolo Dagomari, 1339

Third folio from Trattato dell'abbaco by Paolo Dagomari, 1339

Fourth folio from Trattato dell'abbaco by Paolo Dagomari, 1339

Fifth folio from Trattato dell'abbaco by Paolo Dagomari, 1339

The images above have been obtained through the kind cooperation of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the Columbia University Libraries. Additional information and selected other pages from this text can be found at Digital Scriptorium, a digital collection of medieval and early Renaissance manuscripts made available by a consortium of cooperating university libraries headed by the University of California, Berkeley. 

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Paolo Dagomari’s 14th Century Arithmetic," Convergence (June 2018)

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