A History of the Study of Mathematics at Cambridge by Walter William Rouse Ball

By Walter William Rouse Ball

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THE COMMENCEMENT OF MODERN MATHEMATICS. IN the last chapter I was able to trace a continuous succession of mathematicians resident at Cambridge to the end of the sixteenth century. The period of the next thirty years is almost a blank in the history of science at the university, but its close is marked by the publication of some of the more important works of Briggs, Oughtred, and Harriot. We come then to the names of Horrox and Seth Ward, both of whom were well-known astronomers; to Pell, who was later in intimate relations with Newton; and lastly to Wallis and to Barrow, who were the first Englishmen to treat mathematics as a science rather than as an art, and who may be said to have introduced the methods of modern mathematics into Britain.

H e was educated at Oxford, and in 1531 obtained a fellowship at All Souls' College; but like Tonstall he found that there was then no room at that university for those who wished to study science beyond the traditional and narrow limits of the quadrivium. H e accordingly migrated to Cambridge, where he read mathematics and medicine. H e then returned to Oxford, but his reception was so unsatisfactory that he moved to London, where he became physician to Edward "VI. and afterwards to Queen Mary.

But it is also clear that it was only beginning to grow into an important study, and was not usually read except by bachelors, and probably by only a few of them. The chief English mathematician of this time was Recorde whose works are described immediately hereafter; but John Dee, Thomas Digges, Thomas Blundeville, and William Buckley were not undistinguished. The period of COD fusion in the studies of the university caused by the break-up of the mediaeval system of education was brought to an end by the Edwardian statutes of 1549 (see p.

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