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Mathematical Treasure: Georg von Peurbach's Arithmetic

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Georg von Peurbach (1423-1461) was a German astronomer and astrologist who taught at the University of Vienna. In 1450, Regiomontanus became his student and eventually his mathematical collaborator. Together they composed Opus algorithmi, a basic arithmetic text that became quite popular in the teaching of mathematics. The images shown here are from a 1503 edition of the work.

First page of Opus algorithimi by Georg von Peurbach, 1503

One of the most important rules in early texts was “The Rule of Three.” Presented under many names in this work, it is primarily referred to as “The Golden Rule” (regula aurea).

Page on the Golden Rule/Rule of Three from Opus algorithimi by Georg von Peurbach, 1503

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.

Erwin Tomash (1921-2012) was a pioneering computer scientist, helping launch the U.S. computer industry from the 1940s onward. During the 1970s he became interested in the history of computer science, and founded the Charles Babbage Society, and its research arm, the Charles Babbage Institute. The Institute, an archive and research center, is housed at the University of Minnesota. Its Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing began with Tomash's 2009 donation to the Institute of much of his own collection of rare books from the history of mathematics and computing. (Source: Jeffrey R. Yost, Computer Industry Pioneer: Erwin Tomash (1921-2012), IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, April-June 2013, 4-7.)

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Georg von Peurbach's Arithmetic," Convergence (August 2018)