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Napier, John (1550–1617)




John Napier
Scottish mathematician and theological writer who invented logarithms and wrote Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio (1614), which contains the first logarithmic table and the first use of the word logarithm. He also introduced the decimal point in writing numbers. His Rabdologiae (1617) describes various shortcuts for carrying out arithmetical calculations. One method of multiplication uses a system of numbered rods called Napier's rods, or Napier's bones – a major improvement on the ancient system of counters then in use. In 1619, after Napier's death, his Mirifici logarithmorum canonis constructio, which gave the method of construction of his logarithms, was published by his son Robert and edited by Henry Briggs.


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