1902 Encyclopedia > Algebra > History of Algebra - Robert Recorde (1510-58)

(Part 9)


(viii) Robert Recorde (1510-58)

The first treatise on algebra in the English language was written by Robert Recorde, teacher of mathematics and practitioner in physic at Cambridge. At this period it was common for physicians to unite with the healing art the studies of mathematics, astrology, alchemy, and chemistry. This custom was derived from the Moors, who were equally celebrated for their skill in medicine and calculation. In Spain, where algebra was early known, the title of physician and algebraist were nearly synonymous. Accordingly, in the romance of Don Quixote, when the bachelor Samson Carasco was grievously wounded in his reencounter with the knight, an algebrista was called in to heal his bruises.

Robert Recorde image

Robert Recorde

Recorde published a treatise on arithmetic, which was dedicated to Edward VI.; and another on algebra, with the title, The Whetstone of Wit, &c. Here, for the first time, the modern sign for equality was introduced.

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