Robert Recorde - Encyclopedia


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ROBERT RECORDE (c. 1510-1558), Welsh physician and mathematician, was descended from a respectable family of Tenby in Wales. He entered the university of Oxford about 1525, and was elected fellow of All Souls' College in 1531. Having adopted medicine as a profession, he went to Cambridge, where he took the degree of M.D. in 1545. He afterwards returned to Oxford, where he publicly taught mathematics, as he had done prior to his going to Cambridge. It appears that he afterwards went to London, and acted as physician to Edward VI. and to Queen Mary, to whom some of his books are dedicated. He died in the King's Bench prison, Southwark, where he was confined for debt, in 1558.

Recorde published several works upon mathematical subjects, chiefly in the form of dialogue between master and scholar, viz.: - The Grounde of Artes, teachinge the Worke and Practise of Arithmeticke, both in whole numbers and fractions (1540); The Pathway to Knowledge, containing the First Principles of Geometry. .. bothe for the use of Instrumentes Geometricall and Astronomicall, and also for Projection of Plattes (London, 1551); The Castle of Knowledge, containing the Explication of the Sphere both Celestiall and Materiall, &c. (London, 1556); The Whetstone of Witte, which is the second part of Arithmetike, containing the Extraction of Rootes, the Cossike Practice, with the Rules of Equation, and the Woorkes of Surde Numbers (London, 1557). This was the first English book on algebra. He wrote also a medical work, The Urinal of Physic (1548), frequently reprinted. Sherburne states that Recorde also published Cosmographiae isagoge, and that he wrote a book De Arte faciendi Horologium and another De Usu Globorum et de Statu temporum. Recorde's chief contributions to the progress of algebra were in the way of systematizing its notation (see ALGEBRA, History).

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