History of Logarithms

Topics: Mathematics / Pages: 3 (567 words) / Published: Feb 23rd, 2009

1ST SOURCE: (sosmath.com)

Logarithms were invented independently by John Napier, a Scotsman, and by Joost Burgi, a Swiss. The logarithms which they invented differed from each other and from the common and natural logarithms now in use. Napier's logarithms were published in 1614; Burgi's logarithms were published in 1620. The objective of both men was to simplify mathematical calculations. Napier's approach was algebraic and Burgi's approach was geometric. Neither man had a concept of a logarithmic base. Napier defined logarithms as a ratio of two distances in a geometric form, as opposed to the current definition of logarithms as exponents. The possibility of defining logarithms as exponents was recognized by John Wallis in 1685 and by Johann Bernoulli in 1694. The invention of the common system of logarithms is due to the combined effort of Napier and Henry Biggs in 1624. Natural logarithms first arose as more or less accidental variations of Napier's original logarithms. Their real significance was not recognized until later. The earliest natural logarithms occur in 1618. Logarithms are useful in many fields from finance to astronomy.

2nd SOURCE: (en.wikipedia.com)

The method of logarithms was first publicly propounded in 1614, in a book entitled Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio, by John Napier, Baron of Merchiston, in Scotland. (Joost Bürgi independently discovered logarithms; however, he did not publish his discovery until four years after Napier.) Early resistance to the use of logarithms was muted by Kepler's enthusiastic support and his publication of a clear and impeccable explanation of how they worked. Their use contributed to the advance of science, and especially of astronomy, by making some difficult calculations possible. Prior to the advent of calculators and computers, they were used constantly in surveying, navigation, and other branches of practical mathematics. It

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