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Mathematical Treasure: 1521 Printing of Arithmetic of Boethius

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

By the 16th century, despite the advance of the use of “Hindu-Arabic” (Indo-Arabic) numerals and their computing algorithms in Europe, Boethian arithmetics were still being published. This Boetii Arithmetica appeared in Paris in 1521.

On page 5 of the text are comments by Girardi Ruffi (d.1550), a French religious reformer.

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (480-524) wrote on arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the classical quadrivium). According to O'Connor and Robertson, "his mathematics texts were the best available [in Europe] and were used for many centuries during a time when mathematical achievement in Europe was at a remarkably low point. Boethius's Arithmetic was based on the work of Nicomachus and … it taught medieval scholars about Pythagorean number theory."

Index to Mathematical Treasures

These images were obtained through the courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. The book may be viewed in its entirety at e-rara:

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: 1521 Printing of Arithmetic of Boethius," Convergence (September 2017)