Napier’s bones

I’m leaving Edinburgh tomorrow – it’s a wonderful city, not just beautiful but with a long history of achievement in the sciences and arts. One of Edinburgh’s most famous sons was John Napier who in 1617 published a work called Rabdologiæ, that made use of multiplication tables embedded in “bones.” Using Napier’s bones multiplication can be reduced to addition operations and division to subtractions. More advanced use of the bones can even extract square roots. Napier’s bones are not the same as logarithms, with which Napier’s name is also associated. Napier University in Edinburgh is named in his honour.

from The Universal Machine

About driwatson
I'm a New Zealand author, computer scientist and blogger specialising in Artificial Intelligence. I also have an interest in the history of computing and have just written a popular science book called "The Universal Machine - from the dawn of computing to digital consciousness."

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