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Mathematical Treasures - Simon Stevin's Arithmetic

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)


Title page of Simon Stevin's 1558 L’Arithmetique.

Simon Stevin (1548–1620) was a Dutch military engineer, a mathematician, and an adventurer. In 1585, he published L’Arithmetique, one of only two books that he wrote in the French language. In this work, he reiterated his theory of decimal fractions, provided a unifying theory for quadratic equations, and introduced a method of approximation to find the roots of higher order algebraic equations. This is the title page of L’Arithmetique.

Pages 142-143 of Simon Stevin's 1558 L’Arithmetique.

Here on pages 142 and 143, Stevin discussed his system for decimal fractions.

Pages 440-441 of Simon Stevin's 1558 L’Arithmetique.

Pages 440 and 441 provide exercises in performing operations involving decimal fractions. 

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

For additional images of Stevin's mathematics, see Mathematical Treasure: Simon Stevin's Oeuvres Mathematiques here in Convergence.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasures - Simon Stevin's Arithmetic," Convergence (January 2021)

Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University