Fermat used the wordgeometraewhen referring to mathematicians at large, but preferred to be called ananalysthimself. Other terms for what we today would call a mathematician weregeometer,Rechenmeister,wisconstler,cossist, andalgebraist. One thing these variously named professionals agreed upon was that they were notmathematicians. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the notionmathematicianretained the same meaning as during the Middle Ages; it meantastrologerorastronomer.Whatever they called themselves, these individuals used mathematical methods, and they searched for relationships between equations and geometry, and more generally, between mathematical methods and nature. The main areas in which they achieved development were solving equations, describing curves and their properties, trigonometry, numerical methods, and calculus and its applications.

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Michael Somos <somos@grail.cba.csuohio.edu>

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