*Victor J. Katz and Karen Hunger Parshall*

- Published in print:
- 2014
- Published Online:
- October 2017
- ISBN:
- 9780691149059
- eISBN:
- 9781400850525
- Item type:
- chapter

- Publisher:
- Princeton University Press
- DOI:
- 10.23943/princeton/9780691149059.003.0010
- Subject:
- Mathematics, History of Mathematics

This chapter follows up on the mathematical advances made during the sixteenth century, especially in the work of François Viète as he aspired to transform his algebra to realize his aim to “solve ...
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This chapter follows up on the mathematical advances made during the sixteenth century, especially in the work of François Viète as he aspired to transform his algebra to realize his aim to “solve every problem.” Though Viète's algebra was not up to the task, two of his followers—Thomas Harriot and Pierre de Fermat—helped to transform that algebra into the problem-solving tool he had envisioned, and René Descartes would later recognize the significance of this work and begin circulating these ideas, thus jumpstarting the transformation of algebra, which this chapter explores through a number of noted intellectuals during the period.Less

This chapter follows up on the mathematical advances made during the sixteenth century, especially in the work of François Viète as he aspired to transform his algebra to realize his aim to “solve every problem.” Though Viète's algebra was not up to the task, two of his followers—Thomas Harriot and Pierre de Fermat—helped to transform that algebra into the problem-solving tool he had envisioned, and René Descartes would later recognize the significance of this work and begin circulating these ideas, thus jumpstarting the transformation of algebra, which this chapter explores through a number of noted intellectuals during the period.

*Judith Herrin*

- Published in print:
- 2013
- Published Online:
- October 2017
- ISBN:
- 9780691153018
- eISBN:
- 9781400845224
- Item type:
- chapter

- Publisher:
- Princeton University Press
- DOI:
- 10.23943/princeton/9780691153018.003.0015
- Subject:
- History, World Medieval History

This chapter examines how the mathematical mysteries of Diophantus were preserved, embellished, developed, and enjoyed in Byzantium by many generations of amateur mathematicians like Pierre de ...
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This chapter examines how the mathematical mysteries of Diophantus were preserved, embellished, developed, and enjoyed in Byzantium by many generations of amateur mathematicians like Pierre de Fermat, who formulated what became known as Fermat's last theorem. Fermat was a seventeenth-century scholar and an amateur mathematician who developed several original concepts in addition to the famous “last theorem.” One of his sources was the Arithmetika, a collection of number problems written by Diophantus, a mathematician who appears to have flurished in Alexandria in the third century AD. It was through the Greek text translated into Latin that Fermat became familiar with Diophantus's mathematical problems, and in particular the one at book II, 8, which encouraged the formulation of his own last theorem. Fermat's last theorem claims that “the equation xn + yn = zn has no nontrivial solutions when n is greater than 2”.Less

This chapter examines how the mathematical mysteries of Diophantus were preserved, embellished, developed, and enjoyed in Byzantium by many generations of amateur mathematicians like Pierre de Fermat, who formulated what became known as Fermat's last theorem. Fermat was a seventeenth-century scholar and an amateur mathematician who developed several original concepts in addition to the famous “last theorem.” One of his sources was the *Arithmetika*, a collection of number problems written by Diophantus, a mathematician who appears to have flurished in Alexandria in the third century AD. It was through the Greek text translated into Latin that Fermat became familiar with Diophantus's mathematical problems, and in particular the one at book II, 8, which encouraged the formulation of his own last theorem. Fermat's last theorem claims that “the equation *xn* + *yn* = *zn* has no nontrivial solutions when *n* is greater than 2”.