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Mathematical Treasure: Bézout’s Calculus

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Étiene Bézout (1730–1783) was a French mathematician and writer of popular mathematics textbooks. Many of his books were adopted in other countries. In 1824, a translation of Bézout’s work in calculus was published in the United States as First Principles of the Differential and Integral Calculus. This translation was made by John Farrar (1779–1853) and George Barrell Emerson (1797–1881); both men were on the faculty of Harvard University and the text was intended for use at their institution. It was the first calculus text in the United States to employ the notation of Leibniz.

Title page of the 1824 Farrar/Emerson translation of Bezout's calculus.

A glimpse of the text on pages 92–93 reveals material familiar to contemporary calculus students.

Pages 92-93 of the Farrar/Emerson translation of Bezout's calculus.

The images above are presented courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. See a full digitization of the University of Illinois’s copy in the Internet Archive.

Index of Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Bézout’s Calculus," Convergence (October 2016)