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A Discourse Concerning AlgebraEnglish Algebra to 1685$
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Jacqueline A. Stedall

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198524953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524953.001.0001

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Moving the Alps: uncovering the mathematics of John Pell

Moving the Alps: uncovering the mathematics of John Pell

Chapter:
(p.126) 5 Moving the Alps: uncovering the mathematics of John Pell
Source:
A Discourse Concerning Algebra
Author(s):

Jacqueline A. Stedall (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524953.003.0005

John Pell (1611-1685) has long been considered the most enigmatic of the 17th-century mathematicians. He was well read in both Classical and contemporary mathematics, and there is no doubt that he was held in esteem. However, attempts to discover just what Pell's mathematical reputation was based on, create a picture that is strangely unclear. His name is linked with the equation Np2 ± I = q2 (for N, p, q integers), universally known as ‘Pell's equation’ but it was neither proposed nor solved by Pell. His mathematical publications were few and far between: the book for which he is best remembered is An introduction to algebra published in 1668, but other books expected of him failed to appear. There were always hints that he was developing further ideas, but he could never be persuaded to share them.

Keywords:   John Pell, mathematician, An introduction to algebra, Wallis

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