Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Enlightening SymbolsA Short History of Mathematical Notation and Its Hidden Powers$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Joseph Mazur

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691173375

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691173375.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use (for details see www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 15 December 2018

The Timid Symbol

The Timid Symbol

(p.127) Chapter 13 The Timid Symbol
Enlightening Symbols

Joseph Mazur

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the evolution of symbols as used in mathematics. It begins by considering Michael Stifel's Arithmetica Integra, a treatise on arithmetic and algebra that included several symbols such as “plus,” “minus,” and “radix,” but not a sign for “equals.” The oldest notation for radicals (square roots, cube roots, and so on) dates back to about 1480, when a dot placed before the radicand was used to signify a square root: two dots for the fourth root, and three dots for the cube root. By 1524, the dot evolved into a blackened point with a tail bent upward to the right. Algebra at that time was concerned with solving cubic and higher degree polynomials. The chapter also examines Stifel's edition of Christoff Rudolff's Die Coss (1525) and the sign used by Nicolas Chuquet to symbolize the square root.

Keywords:   symbols, mathematics, Michael Stifel, Arithmetica Integra, algebra, square roots, polynomials, Christoff Rudolff, Die Coss, Nicolas Chuquet

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.