The Excursion of Calculus


This manuscript is an 18th-century copy of Nuzhat al-ḥisāb (The excursion of calculus) by mathematician Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Farāḍī ibn al-Hā'im (around 1356–1412). The copyist of this brief but densely written codex provided his name and the date of the completion of his work in the colophon: at the bottom of the last page of the manuscript is stated that Aḥmad ibn Qāsim ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Hanbalī finished this copy in the year 1185 AH (1772). The Nuzhat al-ḥisāb is an abridgment by Ibn al-Hā'im of his own mathematical treatise entitled Murshid al-ṭālib ilā asnā' al-maṭālib (A student guide to the summit of learning). The main aim of this treatise is didactic. Numbers and arithmetical operations are presented in a systematic and very clear way. The author introduces his work with some preliminary notes on the different kind of numbers, their names and shapes. The first part of the manuscript focuses on the mathematics of integer numbers. The four usual basic operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—and a fifth, extraction of roots, are explained in detail through a number of practical examples. The second part deals with fractions and their properties. Using the same structure as in the first part, the author explains how to perform the five basic operations in the case of fractional numbers. The copyist embellished the manuscript with rubricated headings for the different sections, and used red ink to write figures, mathematical operations, and significant words in the text.

Last updated: August 29, 2017