Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande and mathematics in the early eighteenth century

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What did mathematics look like in the early eighteenth century and what did it mean to be a mathematician at the time? Questions such as these are central to understanding the historical development of mathematics more generally but are notoriously hard to answer. In this article Jip van Besouw attempts to take some small steps towards an interpretation. He will do so by looking at one particular mathematician, Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande (1688–1742). Although ’s Gravesande is not one of the household names in the history of mathematics, he was located at a central node of the mathematical community during his era. For most of his career he held a prestigious chair of mathematics and astronomy at Leiden University, one of Europe’s leading institutes of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalNieuw Archief voor Wiskunde
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • History of mathematics
  • 's Gravesande


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