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Mathematical Treasure: Sturm's Elements of Mathematics

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Figure 1. Title page of Sturm's Mathesis Enucleata (1695)

Johann Christoph Sturm (1635-1703) was a German mathematician and philosopher. He taught at the university at Altdorf founded in 1622 to serve the needs of nearby Nuremberg. He was the author of many books on mathematics and the natural sciences. Mathesis Enucleata (1695) (The Elements of Mathematics) was written as a textbook for his students. In 1700, it was translated into English with the title The Elements of Mathematics, an Introduction to the Specious Analysis or Algebra. The title page of the first 1695 edition is shown above.

Figure 2. Illustrations from page 217 of Sturm's Mathesis Enucleata (1695)

Mathesis Enucleata was lavishly illustrated with forty-nine copper plate prints, some of which are shown in Figures 2 and 3. The reader can attempt to determine the particular mathematical situation and/or problem depicted.

Figure 3. More geometric illustrations from page 268 of Sturm's Mathesis Enucleata (1695)

These images are presented courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. You may use them in your classroom and/or for private study; for all other purposes, please seek permission from Archives and Special Collections, Waidner-Spahr Library, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Sturm's Elements of Mathematics," Convergence (February 2014)