MoMath + Wolfram

Funding for this project generously provided by Overdeck Family Foundation


Wallis's Treatise of Algebra

First publication focusing on algebra

Mathematician John Wallis, perhaps best known as the inventor of the symbol ∞ for infinity and for his eponymous infinite product for π, also wrote about the history and development of algebra in his Treatise of Algebra. In the preface of this work, published in 1685, Wallis credited Thomas Harriot (1560–1621), William Oughtred (1574–1660) and François Viéte (1540–1603) as contributors to the development of algebra as a mathematical discipline.

Wallis's Treatise of Algebra

Artifact dimensions

7.5 in. × 12.8 in.

Artifact origin

London, United Kingdom

Current artifact location

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

Catalog number



Algebra timeline Babylonian Metric Algebra Problems Tablet Berlin Pythagorean Theorem Papyrus Rhind Papyrus Al-Khwārizmī's Al-Jabr Khayyam's Al-jabr Cardano's Ars Magna Recorde's Whetstone of Witte Faulhaber's Academia Algebrae Wallis's Treatise of Algebra Emerson's Treatise of Algebra Hermes's Suitcase of Göttingen

Interactive Content

coming soon

Computational Explanation

coming soon

Additional Reading

  • Stedall, J. A Discourse Concerning Algebra: English Algebra to 1685. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Wallis, J. A treatise of algebra, both historical and practical. Shewing the original, progress, and advancement thereof, from time to time; and by what steps it hath attained to the heighth [sic] at which it now is. With some additional treatises. London: J. Playford, 1685.