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Mathematical Treasure: 18th-Century Russian Arithmetic by Magnitsky

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

When Peter the Great, Czar of Russia (1672-1725), began his campaign to modernize and reform his country, he focused on education. In 1701, Peter established a School of Navigation in Moscow and appointed Leonty Magnitsky (1669-1739) as instructor of mathematics. Magnitsky needed appropriate mathematics texts and compiled his own work based on then available European sources. His Arithmetika, published in 1703, became the first known mathematics book written by a Russian and served as the primary mathematics text for instruction for the next fifty years. The title page / frontispiece reflects the Russian Imperial status.


The opening page of text uses red and black ink.


Instruction on the processes of multiplication and division are evident.


Computation of volume demands attention.


The images above are provided courtesy of Columbia University Libraries.

Index to Mathematical Treasures 

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: 18th-Century Russian Arithmetic by Magnitsky," Convergence (April 2018)