Math for Everyone: "Mathy words in the Italian Renissance"


Location: 102 DeBartolo Hall

Nova Scientia

Mathy Words in the Italian Renaissance: Niccolò Tartaglia's Poetic Solution to the Cubic Equation

Arielle Saiber
Bowdoin College

While the history of the scandal between Girolamo Cardano and Niccolò Tartaglia (c. 1499 – 1557) over the publication of Tartaglia’s solution to the cubic equation has been often rehearsed, less studied are the biographical, literary and cultural elements that informed the penning of the poem into which Tartaglia wove his solution. This talk offers a reading of Tartaglia’s ‘Quando chel cubo’ and discusses the implications of his choice to embed his prized solution into verse.  As such, Tartaglia’s poem serves as a powerful indicator of how mathematics and poetry have benefited one another throughout the centuries.

Math for Everyone is a series of math-related lectures, especially for undergraduates. Everyone, from Fields medalists to math phobes, is welcome to attend.