Read about Mathematical Treasures in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of

*MAA FOCUS,*the newsmagazine of the Mathematical Association of America.
Read about Mathematical Treasures in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of *MAA FOCUS, *the newsmagazine of the Mathematical Association of America.

This is a page from a manuscript of the *Lilavati* of Bhaskara II (1114-1185). This manuscript dates from 1650. The rule for the problem illustrated here is in verse 151, while the problem itself is in verse 152:

151: The square of the pillar is divided by the distance between the snake and its hole; the result is subtracted from the distance between the snake and its hole. The place of meeting of the snake and the peacock is separated from the hole by a number ofhastasequal to half that difference.152: There is a hole at the foot of a pillar ninehastashigh, and a pet peacock standing on top of it. Seeing a snake returning to the hole at a distance from the pillar equal to three times its height, the peacock descends upon it slantwise. Say quickly, at how manyhastasfrom the hole does the meeting of their two paths occur? (It is assumed here that the speed of the peacock and the snake are equal.)

These verses and much else from the *Lilavati* may be found in Kim Plofker, "Mathematics in India", in Victor Katz, ed., *The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook* * * (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), pp. 385-514.

These pages are from the 1552 edition of the *Practica d'Arithmetica* of Francesco Ghaligai (d. 1536). On these pages, Ghaligai proposes a new notation for powers of the unknown. Notice on the left hand page that his notation for the second power (censo) is just a square, but the other notations never caught on with other authors. On the right hand page, Ghaligai illustrates the notation by calculating the powers of 2 up to the fifteenth power.

Nest of Austrian weights of the 18^{th} century. Selected by D.E.Smith for his collection to illustrate the ancient, “Problem of Weights”. One example of this problem is given by Claude Bachet as:

This particular set of weights is elaborately decorated and is one of the best specimens of the weight maker’s art of the period. It bears at least ten official seals, one of which contains the date 1787.

Austran weights

This is the title page of

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