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Mathematical Treasure: Practical Geometry from Treviso, Italy

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Problemi di geometria practica is a handwritten manuscript on practical (applied) geometry composed in Treviso, Italy in 1767. Nothing is known about the author Francesco Vecelli nor his intentions in compiling this manuscript. It is supposedly to reflect on military and maritime needs for mathematics but an inspection of its contents casts some doubt on this intention. The title page of the work is shown here.

Instruction is supplied through a series of problems/exercises which are then solved using diagrams.


As a reader proceeds through the collection of problems they become more difficult and complex.

After working through a selection of problems involving common solids, attention is given to the Platonic Solids and their properties.

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection, University of Pennsylvania Library.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Practical Geometry from Treviso, Italy," Convergence (July 2018)