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Tartaglia, Niccolò

method cubic italian found

[tah® tal ya] ( c. 1501–57) Italian mathematician: found a method for solving cubic equations.

Tartaglia’s real name was probably Fontana, but in the French attack on Brescia in 1512 he suffered sword wounds in the face which left him with a speech defect and led to the adopted nickname Tartaglia (‘stammerer’) thereafter. He taught mathematics in Verona and in Venice, and wrote on the mathematical theory of gunnery and on statics, arithmetic, algebra and geometry. The array of binomial coefficients now known as Pascal’s triangle was first published by him, as was the first translation of into Italian and of into Latin. By 1535 he knew a method for solving cubic equations, which he confided to under a pledge of secrecy. Cardan much improved and extended the method and published it (crediting Tartaglia) in his book Ars magna (The Great Skill, 1545). Cardan found all three roots of a cubic and suspected (correctly) that three roots always exist. Their friendship ended, and controversy over priority followed, with Tartaglia emerging as the loser.

Keen on most branches of mathematics, Tartaglia’s greatest enthusiasm was in military applications. ‘Tartaglia’s theorem’ of 1537 states that a firing elevation of 45° gives the maximum range for a projectile regardless of the speed of projection, and that its trajectory is everywhere a curved line. A century passed before showed that the trajectory is a paraboloid.

Tasso, Torquato (1544–1595) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION [next] [back] Target Risk

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