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Mathematical Treasure: Ricci on Maxima and Minima

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Michelangelo Ricci (1619-1682) was an Italian mathematician and cardinal in the Catholic Church. He was a well-respected mathematician and a friend of mathematician Evangelista Torricelli. An advocate of Galilean theories, he was active in the scientific community and an avid correspondent with his scientific peers. In his major work, Exercitatio Geometrice de Maximis & Minimis (1668), he explored the maximum values for functions of the form xm(a – x)n  and tangents to the family of curves ym  = kxn .

The opening pages of text supply needed definitions.

By page 12, Ricci introduced the reader to varied geometric situations.

The corresponding plate of illustrations for Ricci’s geometric constructions:

These images are supplied through the courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich and are available via e-rara. The text is bound with other texts; the title page appears here.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Ricci on Maxima and Minima," Convergence (March 2019)