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Mathematical Treasure: Bolzano’s Three Problems

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848) was a Bohemian mathematician, logician, and Catholic priest. Considered an innovative thinker for his time, Bolzano is especially remembered for his efforts to introduce rigor into analysis. The work shown above, Die drey Probleme der Rectification, der Complanation und der Cubirung, was to be one of the last mathematical works he published until the 1830s. Bolzano was strongly influenced by philosophical questions posed by Abraham Kästner (1719-1800) in his two volumes, Mathematische Anfangsgründe (Mathematical Foundations) and Geschichte der Mathematik (History of Mathematics), and is as well known as a philosopher as he is as a mathematician.

The Special Collections staff at the Linderman Library of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is pleased to cooperate with the Mathematical Association of America to exhibit this and other items from the Library’s holdings in “Mathematical Treasures.” In particular, Convergence would like to thank Lois Fischer Black, Curator, Special Collections, and Ilhan Citak, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, for their kind assistance in helping to make this display possible. You may use these images in your classroom; all other uses require permission from the Special Collections staff, Linderman Library, Lehigh University.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Bolzano’s Three Problems," Convergence (August 2014)