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Mathematical Treasure: Bossut's Cours de Mathematiques

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Charles Bossut (1730-1814) was a French mathematician, abbé, and advisor to the Encyclopaedists. He was a student of d’Alembert and was very active in the French mathematical community of the time. Bossut was particularly respected as a mathematics educator. In 1782, he published Cours de Mathématiques (3 vols.) intended for use by his students at the Royal Military Academy. Volume I was devoted to arithmetic and algebra, Volume II to geometry, and Volume III to mechanics and hydrodynamics. The series became very popular and a revised edition of the work, for the general public, was published in 1800. The following images of the 1800 edition are supplied through the courtesy of Gallica where the complete work can be viewed.

The first few introductory pages of text:

Volume II, dealing primarily with geometry, considered applications of algebra in the working of problems.

Some sample pages from Volume II:


These images are supplied through the courtesy of Bibliotheque Nationale de France via Gallica.

Index to Mathematical Treasures


Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Bossut's Cours de Mathematiques," Convergence (March 2019)