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Mathematical Treasure: Ruffini’s Theory of Equations

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Paolo Ruffini (1765–1822) was an Italian mathematician and medical doctor. Ruffini spent much of his mathematical career at the University of Modena as a professor of mathematics. His most important contributions were to the field of algebra. He was the first mathematician to state and prove that an algebraic equation of degree greater than four cannot be solved by radicals. He gave his proof in 1799 in Teoria Generale delle Equazioni.

In the opening pages of this work, the reader is introduced to the concept of mathematical function. Note the use of f(x) to symbolize a function of x . 

These images were obtained through the courtesy of ETH-Bibliothek Zürich. The book may be viewed in its entirety at e-rara:

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Ruffini’s Theory of Equations," Convergence (July 2017)