Diophantus of Alexandria

Also found in: Dictionary.

Diophantus of Alexandria


(probably third century B.C.). Ancient Greek mathematician.

Part of Diophantus’ mathematical treatise Arithmetica has been preserved (six books out of 13), in which solutions are given for problems most of which reduce to indeterminate equations of up to the fourth degree. A solution is sought in rational positive numbers (negative numbers do not occur in Diophantus’ works). Diophantus used an abbreviated notation of words to designate an unknown and its powers and the equals sign. He provided skilled solutions of algebraic and theoretical numerical problems without providing general methods of solution. His works were a starting point for investigations by P. de Fermat, L. Euler, K. Gauss, and other mathematicians.


Kol’man, E. Istoriia matematiki v drevnosti. Moscow, 1961.