Mathematics in the Renaissance

  • W. S. Anglin
  • J. Lambek
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics book series (UTM)


Aside from the invention of the Indian numerals, and aside from the work of a few persons of talent, such as Pappus and Fibonacci, no significant advances in mathematics had taken place in the thousand years following Diophantus. In the 15th and 16th centuries there was a sudden spurt of activity, aided by the Chinese invention of printing, which reached Europe in 1450 and which carried mathematics, both pure and applied, beyond the achievements of the ancients. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of printing for the spread of mathematical knowledge. Copying mathematical texts by hand required much time and labour. In ancient times, many texts existed only in a single copy, which would be found in the library of Alexandria. This is why, for about 800 years, all mathematical activity was concentrated in one place. Now such texts were available all over the civilized world and people could learn mathematics even in such outlying places as Bohemia or Scotland. In this chapter, and in the next two chapters, we shall discuss advances in the following areas:
  1. 1.

    mathematical notation,

  2. 2.

    the theory of equations,

  3. 3.

    the invention of logarithms,

  4. 4.

    mechanics and astronomy.



Mathematical Notation Positive Real Root Spherical Triangle Lunar Eclipse Civilized World 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. S. Anglin
    • 1
  • J. Lambek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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