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Work for the Hairdressers: The Production of de Prony's Logarithmic and Trigonometric Tables

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A summary account is given of the large set of logarithmic and trigonometric tables produced at the end of the 18th century under the direction of Gaspard Riche de Prony. Although they were completed in 1801, their size made publication a costly task; and it was never done, despite the fact that printing was started more than once and various efforts were made over the years to find finance. Eventually a reduced edition of some tables appeared in 1891. In addition to the history some details are given of the mathematical methods used in the compilation of the tables. An appendix considers the possible influence of this project upon Babbage's ideas on computers and tables.

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 3 )

Date of Publication:

July-Sept. 1990

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