TitleThe Abbacus Tradition: the Missing Link between Arabic and Early Symbolic Algebra?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsHeeffer, A

Abbaco algebra is a coherent tradition of arithmetical and algebraic problem solving, mostly based in the merchant cities of fourteenth and fifteenth-century Italy. This period is roughly situated between two impor- tant works dealing with algebra: the Liber Abbaci by Fibonacci (1202) [5] and the Summa di Arithmetica et Geometria by Luca Pacioli (1492) [20]. Such continuous tradition of mathematical practice was hardly known be- fore the first transcriptions of extant manuscripts by Gino Arrighi from the 1960's (most notably [1], [2], [3] and [4]) and the ground-breaking work by Warren van Egmond [28]. After some decades of manuscript study and the recent assessment of Jens H√łyrup [10] we now have a bet- ter understanding of this tradition. Here we provide an overview of the basic characteristics of the abbaco tradition and discuss the role it played towards the new symbolic algebra as it emerged in sixteenth-century Europe.

Citation Keyheeffer2009abbacus
Download PDF (Author PDF)
PDF author (public):