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Mathematical Treasure: Peter Lauremberg's Arithmetic

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

Peter Lauremberg (1585-1639) was a German mathematician who eventually became a professor of mathematics and physics at Hamburg. His Institutiones Arithmeticae of 1621 became a popular text in its time. The images shown here are of the fourth edition of 1698:

Title page of Institutiones Arithmeticae by Peter Lauremberg, 1698

Lauremberg employed a rather complex configuration to present a table of multiplication facts:

Multiplication table from Institutiones Arithmeticae by Peter Lauremberg, 1698

An elaborate array demonstrates the “galley method” of division:

Galley division example from Institutiones Arithmeticae by Peter Lauremberg, 1698

The images above were 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: Peter Lauremberg's Arithmetic," Convergence (August 2018)

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