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Scipio del FerroVisualize Context (requires Java Plug-in)
CREATED BY chris • LAST EDITED BY chris 4137 days AGO
Alternately Scipione del Ferro, S. d. Ferreo, S. dal Ferro. 1465 - 1526. Professor of mathematics at the University of Bologna. First found a general formula for solutions of cubic equations; that result remained unpublished but was known to students and friends.

His son-in-law, Hannibal Nave, who later succeeded him as lecturer at the University of Bologna, inherited del Ferro's (now-lost) notebook.

When Girolamo Cardano and his then secretary [create Lodovico Ferrari] visited Bologna in 1543 said notebook was an object of intense study, as, in the meanwhile, [create Nicolo Fontana Tartaglia] had independently discovered a method of solution (motivated by a bet with del Ferro's student [create Antonio Fior]).

After several unsuccessful attempts Cardano had finally succeeded in convincing Tartaglia to tell him about his solution - under oath not to divulge it to anyone in any way before Tartaglia had published a book he intended to write later on*; Cardano even agreed to write notes pertaining to the method in code only, so that it would remain a secret even after his death.

By discovering del Ferro's achievement of 30 years past, Cardano considered himself free to go on and publish del Ferro's and Tartaglia's methods as well as his own derivative work in his 1545 [create Ars Magna].

Tartaglia was less than enthusiastic and a bitter fight ensued; documented from Tartaglia's viewpoint in Quesiti et Inventioni diverse (1546).

HM: Earliest priority dispute? (also see reply by [create Ivo Schneider])
MacTutor Biography

* For Tartaglia, being able to solve cubic equations was both a source of income and a lever he intended to use in procuring a better-paid and higher-esteemed academic position.


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