Diophantus' Arithmetica


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Diophantus and his Arithmetica

Diophantus was a Greek mathematician who lived during the third century AD in Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandria was for some time the known world's center of learning, and particularly important for the development of mathematics.

We know very little about Diophantus life, but you can find some of it here. His book Arithmetica is a collection of 130 problems giving numerical solutions of determinate equations (those with a unique solution) and indeterminate equations. All the equations in the book were latter given a name of Diophantine equations and the method for solving them is known as Diophantine analysis . Arithmetica consisted of 13 books, but only 6 survived. There are many Arabic translations but only material from these six books appeared.

Frontispiece of Diophantus' Arithemtica, published in Toulouse, France in 1620

Diophantus was satisfied with a rational solution of his equations and did not require a whole number. He however, did not deal in negative solutions.

Arithmetica and its author are often mentioned as the origin of algebra, but there is no doubt that most of what was written in this work was known by the Babylonians. Nevertheless, Arithmetica was a remarkable achievement as it gave a collection of indeterminate problems that was not fully appreciated until the 17th century.



See here more about Alexandria, its famous library and about some mathematicians who worked and lived there.

See how Arithmetica played a role in the story of Fermat's Last Theorem.

After that, you can use your newly acquired knowledge to some useful purposes; one of which would be an excuse NOT to do a maths homework. See a list of useful excuses here.


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