- Title Pages
- Dedication
- Introduction
- Definitions
- Note on the Illustrations
- Part 1 Numerals: Significant Manuscripts and Initiators
- Chapter 1 Curious Beginnings
- Chapter 2 Certain Ancient Number Systems
- Chapter 3 Silk and Royal Roads
- Chapter 4 The Indian Gift
- Chapter 5 Arrival in Europe
- Chapter 6 The Arab Gift
- Chapter 7 <i>Liber Abbaci</i>
- Chapter 8 Refuting Origins
- Part 2 Algebra
- Chapter 9 Sans Symbols
- Chapter 10 Diophantus’s <i>Arithmetica</i>
- Chapter 11 The Great Art
- Chapter 12 Symbol Infancy
- Chapter 13 The Timid Symbol
- Chapter 14 Hierarchies of Dignity
- Chapter 15 Vowels and Consonants
- Chapter 16 The Explosion
- Chapter 17 A Catalogue of Symbols
- Chapter 18 The Symbol Master
- Chapter 19 The Last of the Magicians
- Part 3 The Power of Symbols
- Chapter 20 Rendezvous in the Mind
- Chapter 21 The Good Symbol
- Chapter 22 Invisible Gorillas
- Chapter 23 Mental Pictures
- Chapter 24 Conclusion
- Appendix A Leibniz’s Notation
- Appendix B Newton’s Fluxion of <i>x<sup>n</sup></i>
- Appendix C Experiment
- Appendix D Visualizing Complex Numbers
- Appendix E Quaternions
- Acknowledgments
- Index

# The Timid Symbol

# The Timid Symbol

- Chapter:
- (p.127) Chapter 13 The Timid Symbol
- Source:
- Enlightening Symbols
- Author(s):
### Joseph Mazur

- Publisher:
- 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

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- Title Pages
- Dedication
- Introduction
- Definitions
- Note on the Illustrations
- Part 1 Numerals: Significant Manuscripts and Initiators
- Chapter 1 Curious Beginnings
- Chapter 2 Certain Ancient Number Systems
- Chapter 3 Silk and Royal Roads
- Chapter 4 The Indian Gift
- Chapter 5 Arrival in Europe
- Chapter 6 The Arab Gift
- Chapter 7 <i>Liber Abbaci</i>
- Chapter 8 Refuting Origins
- Part 2 Algebra
- Chapter 9 Sans Symbols
- Chapter 10 Diophantus’s <i>Arithmetica</i>
- Chapter 11 The Great Art
- Chapter 12 Symbol Infancy
- Chapter 13 The Timid Symbol
- Chapter 14 Hierarchies of Dignity
- Chapter 15 Vowels and Consonants
- Chapter 16 The Explosion
- Chapter 17 A Catalogue of Symbols
- Chapter 18 The Symbol Master
- Chapter 19 The Last of the Magicians
- Part 3 The Power of Symbols
- Chapter 20 Rendezvous in the Mind
- Chapter 21 The Good Symbol
- Chapter 22 Invisible Gorillas
- Chapter 23 Mental Pictures
- Chapter 24 Conclusion
- Appendix A Leibniz’s Notation
- Appendix B Newton’s Fluxion of <i>x<sup>n</sup></i>
- Appendix C Experiment
- Appendix D Visualizing Complex Numbers
- Appendix E Quaternions
- Acknowledgments
- Index