Harriot, Thomas

Harriot, Thomas

(hâr`ēət), 1560–1621, English mathematician and astronomer. He was tutor to Sir Walter RaleighRaleigh or Ralegh, Sir Walter
, 1554?–1618, English soldier, explorer, courtier, and man of letters. Early Life

As a youth Raleigh served (1569) as a volunteer in the Huguenot army in France.
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, who sent him in 1585 to Virginia as surveyor with Sir Richard GrenvilleGrenville, Sir Richard,
1542?–1591, English naval hero. His cousin, Sir Walter Raleigh, gave him command of the fleet of seven vessels carrying the first colonists to Roanoke Island in 1585.
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. Returning to England, Harriot wrote A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588), one of the earliest known large-scale statistical surveys. He made valuable contributions to algebra, introducing new symbols and notation. His Artis analyticae praxis appeared in 1631.


See biography by M. Rukeyser (1971).

Harriot, Thomas


Born 1560 in Oxford; died July 2, 1621, in London. English mathematician.

In The Practice of Analytical Art (1631, published posthumously), Harriot introduced the signs > (greater than) and < (less than), used small letters to represent numbers, formulated equations based on this usage, found an expression for the area of spherical triangles, and did other important work.


Wileitner, H. Istoriia matematiki ot Dekarta do serediny 19 stoletiia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from German.)
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