Great thinkers whose work has helped shaped today's world.

François Viète

1540

1603

François Viète was a famous mathematician who lived in France during the 16th century. Born in 1540, Viète lived through a time of great political and religious change in Europe. He worked as a lawyer and advisor to the French king, but his true passion was mathematics. Despite not being a professional mathematician, Viète made significant contributions to the field that are still remembered today.

Viète is best known for his work in algebra, particularly for introducing the use of letters to represent unknown quantities in equations—something every student learning algebra today encounters. This idea of using symbols like "x" and "y" in equations was revolutionary at the time and made solving mathematical problems much easier. His methods form the foundation of what we now call symbolic algebra, a core part of the mathematics curriculum.

Besides his contributions to mathematics, Viète was also interested in astronomy and cryptography. He used his mathematical skills to break secret codes during wars, which helped the French government in their conflicts. His work in astronomy involved studying planetary motions, which was a key area of science during his lifetime, as people were just beginning to understand the solar system.

In summary, François Viète was a remarkable figure who not only advanced the field of mathematics but also applied his knowledge to other areas like astronomy and code-breaking. His contributions laid the groundwork for modern algebra and have influenced the way we approach mathematical problems today. Learning about Viète is important because it shows how one person's ideas can change the course of history and continue to impact our world centuries later.

Appreciate the work of François Viète by trying some of the maths that this mathematician is known for.

There is an activity called Algebraic Notation that you could try right now. Simplification using the normal conventions of algebra.

So there's no better time than the present to learn some mathematics from the past: let's Go!

Transum has many activities for the topic 'Algebra' and recommends you try some of them.

Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today: let's Go!

Print this large QR code and display it on your classroom's History of Mathematics timeline. When people scan the code with their phones, they'll be directed to this page about François Viète.