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Mathematical Treasure: Mathematics and Architecture

Frank Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Recueil de plusieurs traitez de mathematique de l’Academie Royales des Sciences, published in 1676, was a collection of mathematics papers presented to the French Academy of Sciences in previous years. The title page is shown above.

The first paper in this collection concerns four related mathematical problems in architecture. Its first page, including its title and first of four problem statements, is shown above. The author of the paper was François Blondel (1618-1686), a military engineer particularly noted for his designs for fortifications. In 1656 he became Reader in Mathematics and Fortification at the Collège Royale and in 1673 he became Professor of Mathematics for the Grand Dauphin (Prince of France). For this latter task, he wrote Cours de mathematiques (1683). This textbook remained popular in France for many years.

These images are supplied through the courtesy of the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology. A complete viewing of these works can be found in the library’s digital collection.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Mathematics and Architecture," Convergence (January 2016)