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Mathematical Treasure: Branches of Mathematics of Peter Ramus

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Peter Ramus (1515-1572), in his efforts to revise the Seven Liberal Arts, attempted to examine each of them within a separate treatise. His Scholarum mathematicarum libri xxxi (The Branches of Mathematics in 31 books, 1559) dealt with mathematics. The whole work comprised 351 pages; each “book” considered one topic and was quite brief.   

The work consisted of discussions with few calculations or mathematical demonstrations given. The first page of Book I is typical of the format used.

On page 125 the product 394 x 265 is found using the “lattice” technique.

Pages 127 and 128 include a discussion of division.

Page 205 begins Book XII on geometry.

More advanced geometrical considerations concern the spiral.

On page 319 the measurement of a convex polygonal plot of land is demonstrated.

These images are supplied through the courtesy of Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze and can be viewed via Internet Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University) , "Mathematical Treasure: Branches of Mathematics of Peter Ramus," Convergence (March 2019)