Leone Battista Alberti

Born: 18 Feb 1404 in Genoa, Italy
Died: 3 April 1472 in Rome, Italy

[Mathematiker Bild]

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As a child Alberti received his mathematical education from his father. He attended a school in Padua then the University of Bologna where he studied law but did not enjoy this topic. Alberti lived mainly in Rome and Florence working within the Roman Catholic Church, by 1432 he was following a literary career as a secretary in the Papal Chancery in Rome writing biographies of the saints in elegant Latin.

Alberti studied the representation of 3-dimensional objects and wrote the first general treatise Della Pictura on the laws of perspective in 1435. It was printed in 1511. He said

Nothing pleases me so much as mathematical investigations and demonstrations, especially when I can turn them to some useful practice drawing from mathematics the principles of painting perspective and some amazing propositions on the moving of weights .

Alberti also worked on maps (again involving his skill at geometrical mappings) and he collaborated with Toscanelli who supplied Columbus with the maps for his first voyage. He also wrote the first book on cryptography which contains the first example of a frequency table.

References (6 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR December 1996