A Discourse Concerning Algebra: English Algebra to 1685 by Jacqueline A. Stedall

By Jacqueline A. Stedall

A Discourse pertaining to Algebra, offers a brand new and readable account of the increase of algebra in England from the Medieval interval to the later years of the seventeenth Century.Stedall's ebook follows the reception and dissemination of significant algebraic rules and techniques from continental Europe and the ensuing revolution within the country of English arithmetic within the seventeenth century.

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Just as for numerical arithmetic he would show how to carry out the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, but now using symbols, and, in the more advanced texts, how to cancel simple algebraic fractions or extract easy roots. Next came an explanation of what an equation was and how it could be simplified: by moving terms from one side to the other (as taught by al-Khwārizmī) and by reducing the leading coefficient to I (also taught by al-Khwārizmī). Some authors also instructed the reader to divide out excess powers of the unknown (so that x4 = 25x2, for example, reduced to x2 = 25), to clear fractions by multiplication and surds by squaring.

9 The rule of algebra, or rule of equation, from Robert Recorde's The whetstone of witte, emphasized by decorated capitals and a special italic font. a military manual by Leonard and Thomas Digges, published in 1579. In A treatise of algebra he wrote:108 Leonard Digges (in his Stratioticos, 1579,) and Robert Record, about the Year 1552, (if I be not mis-informed,) and (I think) Robert Norman, 44 HOW ALGEBRA WAS ENTERTAINED AND CULTIVATED IN EUROPE about 1560, and some other, (whose Names I do not remember,) have written of it in our own language.

Neglect of ‘Accommodations’, or applications, was one of the few restrictions Wallis maintained; in every other respect he followed wherever his subject led him, so that his text is a mixture of historical survey, mathematical demonstration, textual criticism, commentary and polemic. This has led to its readers interpreting it according to their own circumstances or prejudices: as a textbook on algebra, as a repository of interesting mathematics, or as history, good or bad. In the chapters that follow, I take up Wallis's text anew and, as previous readers have done, engage with it in a variety of ways.

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