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Mathematical Treasure: John Napier's De Arte Logistica

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)


Mark Napier (1798–1879) was a Scottish lawyer and distant heir of John Napier, one of the founders of logarithms. He inherited a collection of the mathematician’s papers consisting of writings on arithmetic, geometry, and algebra made early in his career, before his explorations of logarithms. The Maitland Club of Glasgow pressured their member Mark Napier to publish these works for public viewing. The result of this request was De Arte Logistica Joannis Napier (1839). Note the use of the archaic term logistica to describe the mathematics contained within the book.

These images are presented through the courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: John Napier's De Arte Logistica," Convergence (August 2019)