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Mathematical Treasure: Legendre on Number Theory

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Adrien-Marie Legendre (1752–1833) was a French mathematician best known for his revision of Euclid’s Elements. However, Legendre also made several significant discoveries in the field of number theory. His Essai sur la Théorie des Nombres, whose title page is shown above, appeared in 1808.

On page 14 of the first part of his Essai, Legendre began a discussion of continued fractions. These pages are shown separately below.

The Essai is available in its entirety via European Cultural History Online (ECHO).

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.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Legendre on Number Theory," Convergence (June 2014)