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Mathematical Treasures - John Ward's Compendium of Algebra

Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz

Title page

This is the title page of A Compendium of Algebra (1724), written by John Ward, an English mathematicians about whom very little is known. He was born in 1648 and died sometime around 1730. It is known that he taught mathematics in Chester and is famous for another mathematics work, the Young Mathematician's Guide, first published in 1707. That work was imported in large quantities to New England and was used for a time as a textbook at Harvard University. It contains a very interesting method of calculating pi.


On pages 38-39, Ward discusses what happens when the number of equations is more than, equal to, or less than the number of unknowns.


Pages 52-53 show two typical problems from the book, each with a detailed description of the steps in the left hand column of the solution of the problem.

Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz, "Mathematical Treasures - John Ward's Compendium of Algebra," Convergence (January 2011)


Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University