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Pacioli's Summa

Comprehensive summary of Renaissance mathematics

Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli published Summa in 1494. Though it contained little original mathematics, it was the most comprehensive mathematical text ever published at the time. As a result of it being not only thorough and clearly written but also the only text of its kind available at the time, it was widely purchased and read by European merchants.

Pacioli's Summa

Pacioli's Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalita (Summary of arithmetic, geometry, proportions and proportionality), first printed in 1494 and written in vernacular Italian (instead of Latin), was a comprehensive summary of Renaissance mathematics. It contained not only practical arithmetic but also algebra, applied geometry and the first treatment of double-entry bookkeeping appearing in print.

Artifact dimensions

8.1 in. × 12.3 in.

Artifact origin

Venice, Italy

Current artifact location

Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Butler Library, Columbia University in the City of New York; Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology


Arithmetic timeline Rhind Papyrus Egyptian Mathematical Problem Papyrus Salamis Tablet Bakhshali Manuscript Pacioli's Summa Incan Yupana Napier's Rabdologiæ

Additional Reading

  • Pacioli, L. Sūma de arithmetica geometria proportioni & proportionalita ... Venice, Italy: Paganinus de Paganinis, 1494.
  • Smith, D. E. Rara Arithmetica: A Catalogue of the Arithmetics Written Before the Year 1601. 1908.