Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia

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Niccolo Fontana Tartaglia Niccolo Tartaglia.jpg
Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia (Italian:  [nikkoˈlɔ ffonˈtaːna tarˈtaʎʎa] ; 1499/1500, Brescia 13 December 1557, Venice) was an Italian mathematician, engineer (designing fortifications), a surveyor (of topography, seeking the best means of defense or offense) and a bookkeeper from the then-Republic of Venice (now part of Italy). He published many books, including the first Italian translations of Archimedes and Euclid, and an acclaimed compilation of mathematics. Tartaglia was the first to apply mathematics to the investigation of the paths of cannonballs, known as ballistics, in his Nova Scientia (A New Science); his work was later partially validated and partially superseded by Galileo's studies on falling bodies. He also published a treatise on retrieving sunken ships.

Brescia Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Brescia is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, a few kilometres from the lakes Garda and Iseo. With a population of more than 200,000, it is the second largest city in the region and the fourth of northwest Italy. The urban area of Brescia extends beyond the administrative city limits and has a population of 672,822, while over 1.5 million people live in its metropolitan area. The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with over 1,200,000 inhabitants.

Venice Comune in Veneto, Italy

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers. In 2018, 260,897 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.

Mathematician person with an extensive knowledge of mathematics

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.


Personal life

Niccolò Fontana was the son of Michele Fontana, a dispatch rider who travelled to neighboring towns to deliver mail. But in 1506, Michele was murdered by robbers, and Niccolò, his two siblings, and his mother were left impoverished. Niccolò experienced further tragedy in 1512 when the King Louis XII's troops invaded Brescia during the War of the League of Cambrai against Venice. The militia of Brescia defended their city for seven days. When the French finally broke through, they took their revenge by massacring the inhabitants of Brescia. By the end of battle, over 45,000 residents were killed. During the massacre, Niccolò and his family sought sanctuary in the local cathedral. But the French entered and a soldier sliced Niccolò's jaw and palate with a saber and left him for dead. His mother nursed him back to health but the young boy was left with a speech impediment, prompting the nickname "Tartaglia" ("stammerer"). After this he would never shave, and grew a beard to camouflage his scars. [1]

War of the League of Cambrai conflict

The War of the League of Cambrai, sometimes known as the War of the Holy League and by several other names, was a major conflict in the Italian Wars. The main participants of the war, fought from 1508 to 1516, were France, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice; they were joined, at various times, by nearly every significant power in Western Europe, including Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, the Duchy of Milan, Florence, the Duchy of Ferrara and Swiss mercenaries.

There is a story that Tartaglia learned only half the alphabet from a private tutor before funds ran out, and he had to learn the rest by himself. Be that as it may, he was essentially self-taught. He and his contemporaries, working outside the academies, were responsible for the spread of classical works in modern languages among the educated middle class.

Alphabet A standard set of letters that represent phonemes of a spoken language

An alphabet is a standard set of letters that represent the phonemes of any spoken language it is used to write. This is in contrast to other types of writing systems, such as syllabaries and logographic systems.

Major works

General trattato di numeri et misure, 1556 Tartaglia - General trattato de' numeri et misure, 1556 - 146704.jpg
General trattato di numeri et misure, 1556

His edition of Euclid in 1543, the first translation of the Elements into any modern European language, was especially significant. For two centuries Euclid had been taught from two Latin translations taken from an Arabic source; these contained errors in Book V, the Eudoxian theory of proportion, which rendered it unusable. Tartaglia's edition was based on Zamberti's Latin translation of an uncorrupted Greek text, and rendered Book V correctly. He also wrote the first modern and useful commentary on the theory. Later, the theory was an essential tool for Galileo, just as it had been for Archimedes.

Euclid Greek mathematician, inventor of axiomatic geometry

Euclid, sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria to distinguish him from Euclid of Megara, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "founder of geometry" or the "father of geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I. His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the theorems of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Euclid also wrote works on perspective, conic sections, spherical geometry, number theory, and mathematical rigour.

Euclids <i>Elements</i> mathematical treatise by Euclid

The Elements is a mathematical treatise consisting of 13 books attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates, propositions, and mathematical proofs of the propositions. The books cover plane and solid Euclidean geometry, elementary number theory, and incommensurable lines. Elements is the oldest extant large-scale deductive treatment of mathematics. It has proven instrumental in the development of logic and modern science, and its logical rigor was not surpassed until the 19th century.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

However, his best known work is his treatise General Trattato di Numeri et Misure published in Venice 15561560. [2] This has been called the best treatise on arithmetic that appeared in the sixteenth century. [3] Not only does Tartaglia have complete discussions of numerical operations and the commercial rules used by Italian arithmeticians in this work, but he also discusses the life of the people, the customs of merchants and the efforts made to improve arithmetic in the 16th century.

Arithmetic elementary branch of mathematics

Arithmetic is a branch of mathematics that consists of the study of numbers, especially the properties of the traditional operations on them—addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Arithmetic is an elementary part of number theory, and number theory is considered to be one of the top-level divisions of modern mathematics, along with algebra, geometry, and analysis. The terms arithmetic and higher arithmetic were used until the beginning of the 20th century as synonyms for number theory and are sometimes still used to refer to a wider part of number theory.

Solution to cubic equations

Tartaglia is perhaps best known today for his conflicts with Gerolamo Cardano. Cardano cajoled Tartaglia into revealing his solution to the cubic equations by promising not to publish them. Tartaglia divulged the secrets of the solutions of three different forms of the cubic equation in verse. [4] Several years later, Cardano happened to see unpublished work by Scipione del Ferro who independently came up with the same solution as Tartaglia. As the unpublished work was dated before Tartaglia's, Cardano decided his promise could be broken and included Tartaglia's solution in his next publication. Even though Cardano credited his discovery, Tartaglia was extremely upset and a famous public challenge match resulted between himself and Cardano's student, Ludovico Ferrari. Widespread stories that Tartaglia devoted the rest of his life to ruining Cardano, however, appear to be completely fabricated. [5] Mathematical historians now credit both Cardano and Tartaglia with the formula to solve cubic equations, referring to it as the "Cardano–Tartaglia formula".

Gerolamo Cardano Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, astrologer

GerolamoCardano was an Italian polymath, whose interests and proficiencies ranged from being a mathematician, physician, biologist, physicist, chemist, astrologer, astronomer, philosopher, writer, and gambler. He was one of the most influential mathematicians of the Renaissance, and was one of the key figures in the foundation of probability and the earliest introducer of the binomial coefficients and the binomial theorem in the western world. He wrote more than 200 works on science.

Scipione del Ferro was an Italian mathematician who first discovered a method to solve the depressed cubic equation.

Volume of a tetrahedron

Tartaglia is also known for having given an expression (Tartaglia's formula) for the volume of a tetrahedron (including any irregular tetrahedra) as the Cayley–Menger determinant of the distance values measured pairwise between its four corners:

where d ij is the distance between vertices i and j. This is a generalization of Heron's formula for the area of a triangle.


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