On ‘origin of the most important mathematical symbol in the history of mathematics …’


inpursuitoftheunknown

An equation derives its power from a simple source. It tells us that two calculations, which appear different, have the same answer. The key symbol is the equals sign, =. The origins of most mathematical symbols are either lost in the mists of antiquity, or are so recent that there is no doubt where they came from. The equals sign is unusual because it dates back more than 450 years, yet we not only know who invented it, we even know why. The inventor was Robert Recorde, in 1557, in The Whetstone of Witte. He used two parallel lines (he used an obsolete word gemowe, meaning ‘twin’) to avoid tedious repetition of the words ‘is equal to’. He chose that symbol because ‘no two things can be more equal’. Recorde chose well. His symbol has remained in use for 450 years.

— Ian Stuart,  In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

Refer : Brain Pickings Article on this !

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2 thoughts on “On ‘origin of the most important mathematical symbol in the history of mathematics …’

  1. Thanks for this interesting factoid.

    My undergraduate work was in History, but it was all about politics, wars, economics, religion etc. with minimal study of science and/or math.

    Like

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