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Distributed for University of Wales Press

Robert Recorde

The Life and Times of a Tudor Mathematician

Distributed for University of Wales Press

Robert Recorde

The Life and Times of a Tudor Mathematician

Robert Recorde was the first person to write an original book on arithmetic in English, rather than in the then-standard Latin or Greek—and thus the first to write about math in a way that ordinary people could understand. He was, in effect, the first mathematics teacher in the English-speaking world. This biography, which provides a comprehensive overview of Recorde’s life and work, traces the major influences on his study and his writing and charts his contribution to the development of mathematical and scientific thinking in Europe.

232 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2012

Biography and Letters

Mathematics and Statistics

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“The book begins with a revealing glimpse of Recorde’s life and then proceeds with extensive examinations of his texts on algebra, arithmetic, numbe theory, geometry, medicine, and astronomy. The final three chapters provide an overview of the historical, political, and social contexts for Recorde’s mathematical contributions. The book argues that Recorde was primarily a mathematics educator of high quality who suffered politically in the setting of Tudor England to the extent that he was imprisoned and died in relative obscurity. . . . An excellent book. Highly recommended.”

J. Johnson, Western Washington University | Choice

“Drawing on a wide array of archival and documentary sources, the authors of this collection of highly readable essays shine a bright light on the life and work of the Tudor mathematics educator Robert Recorde. It is a fascinating read for those interested in the Tudor period, the history of science, and the history of mathematics, and it will ensure that Recorde is remembered for much more than just the invention of a mathematical symbol.”

June Barrow-Green, Open University

“Although best known for inventing the equals sign, Robert Recorde made many other significant contributions to the development of mathematics and science. As this book amply demonstrates, his writings made arithmetic, geometry, algebra, astronomy, and ‘physick’ widely available in English to those for whom the classical texts of the scholar were inaccessible. It can be warmly recommended as a most welcome addition to the historical literature.”

Robin Wilson, president, British Society for the History of Mathematics

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Notes on contributors
Editorial conventions

1. The lives and works of Robert Recorde
      Jack Williams
2. Robert Recorde and his remarkable Arithmetic
      John Denniss and Fenny Smith
3. Recorde and The Vrinal of Physick: context, uroscopy and the practice of medicine
      Margaret Pelling
4. The Pathway to Knowledge and the English Euclidean tradition
      Jacqueline Stedall
5. The Castle of Knowledge: astronomy and the sphere
      Stephen Johnston
6. The Whetstone of Witte: content and sources
      Ulrich Reich
7. The Welsh context of Robert Recorde
      Nia M. W. Powell
8. Commonwealth and Empire: Robert Recorde in Tudor England
      Howell A. Lloyd
9. Data, computation and the Tudor knowledge economy
      John V. Tucker

Appendix: From Recorde to relativity: a speculation
      Gareth Wyn Evans

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