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Mathematical Treasure: Van Schooten's Sine Table

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Frans van Schooten (1615-1660) was a Dutch mathematician best known for his popularization of Descartes' analytic geometry. But van Schooten was also known for his own mathematical work. His Tabulae sinuum, first published in 1627, devoted two pages to the tabulation of each degree. This work was very much admired and translated into several languages.  The title page below comes from a Dutch edition published in 1632.

Title page from Tabulae sinuum by Frans van Shooten, 1632

The image above was obtained through the courtesy of the Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.

Erwin Tomash (1921-2012) was a pioneering computer scientist, helping launch the U.S. computer industry from the 1940s onward. During the 1970s he became interested in the history of computer science, and founded the Charles Babbage Society, and its research arm, the Charles Babbage Institute. The Institute, an archive and research center, is housed at the University of Minnesota. Its Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing began with Tomash's 2009 donation to the Institute of much of his own collection of rare books from the history of mathematics and computing. (Source: Jeffrey R. Yost, Computer Industry Pioneer: Erwin Tomash (1921-2012), IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, April-June 2013, 4-7.)

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Van Schooten's Sine Table," Convergence (August 2018)