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Mathematical Treasure: Tagliente's Commercial Arithmetic

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

Giovanni Tagliente (ca.1460-ca.1528) was an Italian mathematician and teacher. He, together with his brother Girolamo, published Libro d'abaco in 1515. This was a popular mercantile arithmetic and did not deal with the abacus per se. The text went through at least twenty-five editions. Here we examine the 1535 edition.

Title page from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

Wood block prints are used throughout to illustrate operations and problems.

Wood block print showing measurement on sphere from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

Three different multiplication algorithms are illustrated.

Illustration of 9876 multiplied by 6789 from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

Algorithm showing 98765 multiplied by 56789 from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

Algorithm showing 927 multiplied by 789 from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

Two standard medieval problems, "two couriers to Rome" and "the market woman":

"Two couriers to Rome" problem and illustration from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

"The market woman" problem and illustration from Libro d'abaco by Giovanni and Girolamo Tagliente, 1535

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: Tagliente's Commercial Arithmetic," Convergence (August 2018)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED