Omar Khayyam meets Oliver Byrne, A geometrical mash-up

Mathematics: place, production and publication, 1730-1940

22 January 15:30 - 16:30

Deborah Kent - Drake University

The visual language employed by Oliver Byrne in his 1847 edition of Euclid’s Elements provides a natural syntax for communicating the geometrical spirit of Omar Khayyam’s eleventh-century constructions for solving cubic equations. Inspired by Byrne’s approach, "in which Coloured Diagrams are Used Instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners" we rework one of these constructions by adapting his distinct pictographic style. Adapting Byrne's graphical presentation removes the modern reliance on algebraic notation and focuses instead on a visualization that emphasizes Khayyam’s use of ratios, conic sections, and dimensional reasoning.
June Barrow-Green
The Open University
Jeremy Gray,
The Open University
Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze
University of Agder


June Barrow-Green


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