Pietro Antonio Cataldi

Born: 15 April 1548 in Bologna, Italy
Died: 11 Feb 1626 in Bologna, Italy

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Pietro Cataldi was educated in Bologna although he does not seem to have attended the university there, rather he began teaching mathematics at the age of seventeen. He taught in Florence in the Academy of Design from 1569 until 1570 then he went to Perugia, in Umbria in central Italy. He taught mathematics both at the University of Perugia and also at the Academy of Design in Perugia until 1584.

In 1584 Cataldi returned to Bologna were he taught mathematics and astronomy at the Studio di Bologna until his death.

Cataldi wrote around 30 books on mathematics, and some on other topics. He wrote on arithmetic (Practica aritmetica was written in four parts between 1606 and 1617), perfect numbers and algebra.

He found square roots of numbers by use of an infinite series leading to an early investigation into continued fractions. This work on continued fractions appears in Trattato del modo brevissimo di trovar la radice quadra delli numeri (1613). His methods make precise some ideas which went back to Heron.

Among his other works were Transformatione geometrica (1611) and a book which studied problems of the range of artillery which included tables on the rising of the sun and the time of midday for Bologna (1613). In 1618 he published Operetta di ordinanze quadre which studied military applications of algebra.

Also he published an edition of Euclid's Elements. He worked on Euclid's fifth postulate, attempting to prove the postulate was a consequence of the others in Operetta delle linee rette equidistanti et non equidistanti.

Cataldi tried, without success, to set up a an academy of mathematics in Bologna. Despite the failure he left money in his will to set up a school in his own house but this also seems not to have happened.

References (5 books/articles)

Some pages from works by Cataldi:

Title page of Operetta della linee rete equidistanti et non equidistanti (1603)
and another page from the same work

References elsewhere in this archive:

Tell me about Cataldi's work on prime numbers

Other Web sites:

Rice University, USA

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JOC/EFR December 1996