• Jack Williams
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


Robert Recorde’s views on the intrinsic worth of learning are scattered throughout the Dedications and Prefaces to his books. His views accord with those of Plato on counts other than the practical application of mathematics, of which Recorde was strongly in favour. He justifies the values of Arithmetic, Geometry and Astronomy individually with slightly differing emphases, but concludes that learning these subjects is basically good for you. He then sets out his intentions to publish a series of texts, written in the vernacular, that were designed to remedy the parlous state into which the teaching of mathematical subjects had descended in England by the beginning of the Tudor period. The task was great. Overall the situation with respect to the state of mathematics in England at the end of the fifteenth century in academia did not differ greatly from that of the rest of Western Europe, but that of practical arithmetic lagged behind the most advanced uses of mathematics on the mainland by some 300 years. In particular, a transition from the additive system of arithmetic using Roman numerals to the place-value system using Hindu-Arabic numerals had to be made and this is where Robert Recorde arguably made his major contribution.


Roman Numeral Fifteenth Century Lunar Eclipse False Fame Poetic Licence 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OxfordUK

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