To the most Distinguished and Worthy gentleman and most Skilled Mathematician, Dr William Oughtred Rector of the church of Aldbury in the county of Surrey

  • John Wallis
Part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SHMP)


Here for you at last (most distinguished gentleman) is now the whole of that work of which I gave hope in that proposition on circle measurement that I gave you in its stead in print last Easter (see Figure 1). For since, by custom, when one puts something out in public, it ought to be dedicated to someone, I thought to seek not only a great gentleman but a great mathematician to whom I might offer it. And therefore I saw that to none other greater than you can that easily be done, who is among mathematicians most deserving, and also by whose writings I readily confess that I have profited: who indeed in your Clavis mathematicae, though not a large work, have there taught both briefly and clearly, what we seek in vain in the large volumes of others.1


True Number Skilled Mathematician Great Mathematician Circle Measurement Bodleian Library 
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  1. 1.
    William Oughtred, Arithmeticae… quasi clavis est, London 1631.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wallis himself translated the title as ‘Arithmetick of Infinites; for discussion of the title and its translation see Introduction p. xvii.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bonaventura Cavalieri, Geometria indivisibilibus continuorum nova quadam ratione promota, Bologna 1635;Google Scholar
  4. 3a.
    Evangelista Torricelli, Opera geometrica, Florence 1644.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Wallis did not know Roberval’s ‘Traite des Indivisibles’, which was not published until 1693. See Introduction p. xiv and note 15.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Fermat had done this, but Wallis was ignorant of it, see Introduction p. xiv and note 15.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Grégoire De Saint-Vincent, Opus geometricum quadraturae circuli et sectionum coni, Antwerp 1647.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Christiaan Huygens, Theoremata de quadratura hyperbolae, ellipsis et circuli... Quibus subjuncta est Exetasis cyclometriae G. a S. vincentio, Leiden 1651. Wallis’s copy of Huygens’ Theoremata de quadratura and of his De circuli magnitudine inventa of 1654 are both bound in Bodleian Library Savile G.26.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Thomas Hobbes, Elementorum philosophiae; sectio primo de corpore, London 1655.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    John Wallis, Elenchus geometria Hobbianae… refutatio, Oxford 1655.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

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  • John Wallis

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