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Mathematical Treasures - Francois Viete's Collected Works

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)


Title page of van Schooten's translation of Viete's works (1641).

François Viète (1540–1603) was a mathematician in the employ of the French King Henry IV. Known for his work on ciphers (codes), Viète is also remembered for his innovative use of symbolism in algebra. In his In artem analyticen isagoge (1591), he employed the letters of the alphabet, using vowels to represent unknowns and constants for knowns. Frans van Schooten (1615–1661), a Dutch Professor of Mathematics at the University of Leiden, translated Viete’s work from French into Latin and published it as a collection, Opera mathematica (1641). Van Schooten is better known as the popularizer of Descartes' works. The title page of the Opera is shown above.

Table of contents of van Schooten's translation of Viete's works (1641).

This is the Table of Contents for Opera mathematica.

Page 1 of van Schooten's translation of Viete's works (1641).

Chapter 1 of Viete’s Opera begins on the first page of In artem analyticen isagoge.

These images from its George Arthur Plimpton Collection are presented through the courtesy of the Columbia University Libraries.

For more images from a different copy of this text, see Mathematical Treasure: Francois Viete's Opera Mathematica.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasures - Francois Viete's Collected Works," Convergence (January 2021)

Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University