The Inventor of Logarithms


Jost Burgi
, Swiss inventor of logarithms

The invention of logarithms is usually attributed to  Jean Napier, Lord of Merchiston, aka Neper. This man was born in Merchiston in 1550 and died in 1617, publishing his Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio in 1614, and a posthumous Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Constructio was published by his son in 1619.

Of course the problem of helping the computation of complex multiplications and divisions had interested many people, but its most efficient solution, logarithms, are usually. attributed to Neper.

A Swiss clock maker, Jost Burgi was born in 1552 in Lichtensteig and died 79 year later in 1632, working on astronomical clocks for German kings and on mathematics for himself.

Although he published his table, Tafeln arithmetischer und geometrischer Zahlenfolgen mit einer gründlichen Erläuterungen, wie sie zu verstehen sind und gebraucht werden können, only in 1620, the invention came much earlier, in 1588. We know it through a letter of the astronom Reimarus Ursus Dithmarus, who explains that Bürgi had a method to simplify his calculations, the logarithms.

I'm not so much of a Chauvin, but this is not a common occurence in history and nobody speaks about the humble Jost Burgi nowadays, do I decided to publish it.

Frontispice Table Frontispice

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