Hesitating progress: the slow development toward algebraic symbolization in abbacus-and related manuscripts, c. 1300 to c. 1550

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From the early fourteenth century onward, some Italian Abbacus manuscripts begin to use particular abbreviations for algebraic operations and objects and, to be distinguished from that, examples of symbolic operation. The algebraic abbreviations and symbolic operations we find in German Rechenmeister writings can also be seen to have antecedents in Italian manuscripts. This might suggest a continuous trend or perhaps even an inherent logic in the process. Without negating the possibility of such a trend or logic, the paper will show that it becomes invisible in a close-up picture, and that it was thus not understood – nor intended – by the participants in the process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Aspects of Symbolic Reasoning in Early Modern Mathematics
EditorsAlbrecht Heeffer, Marten Van Dyck
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherCollege Publications
Publication date2010
ISBN (Print)978-1-84890-017-2, 1848900171
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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