7 June 2006
GAUSS, Carl Friedrich (1777-1855). Disquisitiones arithmeticae. Leipzig: Gerh[ard] Fleischer, 1801.
8° (202 x 116mm). (Spotted.) Late 19th-century green half morocco (rubbed). Provenance: Iain Crompton (signature and bibliographical note on front blank).
FIRST EDITION OF THE WORK WHICH REVOLUTIONISED NUMBER THEORY and established the twenty-four year old Gauss as a mathematical genius; the son of a bricklayer, he had actually discovered the theory of quadratic reciprocity, which both Euler and Legendre had failed to prove, at no more than eighteen. He also described the discovery of a method of inscribing in a circle a regular polygon of seventeen sides -- the first discovery of this kind in Euclidean geometry for over two thousand years. The new mathematics so confused the typesetters that, in addition to the lengthy 4-page errata, the worst mistakes in the book were corrected by cancel leaves. In this copy leaves B7, G4, K3, Ff7, and Tt6 appear to be cancels; none are bound in in their uncancelled form, and Uu4 is not present. This is in contrast to the Norman copy where three of these leaves are included in both their cancelled and uncancelled state, the cancellan for Tt6 being present as the last leaf, Uu4. Dibner Heralds of Science 114; Grolier/Horblit 38; Norman 838; PMM 257.
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