Person: Commandino, Frederico
Frederico Commandino was an Italian mathematician who published important translations of works of the Ancient Greek mathematicians.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- There is little information about Commandino's youth and all we know of his early education is that he studied Latin and Greek at Fano under the humanist G Torelli.
- There they had a mathematics tutor for one of their sons, and this same tutor taught Commandino mathematics.
- Commandino's talents were quickly recognised by his tutor.
- After this tutor was appointed a bishop in June 1533 he arranged that Commandino be appointed as private secretary to Pope Clement VII.
- He took up this appointment in June 1534 but on 25 September 1534 Pope Clement died and Commandino then went to the University of Padua.
- Bernardino Baldi, who was a student of Commandino in the latter part of his life and wrote a short biography of him in 1587, claimed that he studied philosophy and medicine at Padua from 1534 to 1544 but one should not suppose that this means that he was a student for ten years.
- It appears that Commandino intended to practise medicine and indeed he returned to Urbino with this aim.
- It would appear that Commandino was never that enthusiastic about being a medical advisor.
- Also in 1558 Commandino published the work which he had begun in Rome, namely Commentarius in planisphaerium Ptolemaei in which he gave an account of Ptolemy's stereographic projection of the celestial sphere.
- What is interesting here is that Commandino recognised that Ptolemy's stereographic projection is related to the perspective studies made by architects in designing stage scenery.
- This is actually an important connection and it shows that Commandino has a deep understanding of the works which he edited.
- In the letter Commandino outlined his plans for further publications including Ptolemy's De analemmate and an edition of Apollonius.
- Commandino had only a manuscript of a Latin translation of an Arabic version of this book by Ptolemy to work from.
- John Dee visited Commandino in Urbino in 1563.
- Dee had made a copy of De superficierum divisionibus by Machometus Bagdedinus in 1559 and he took this copy with him to Italy where he gave it to Commandino to publish it, as indeed he did.
- Two years later, in 1565, Cardinal Farnese became Bishop of Bologna and Commandino followed his patron to Bologna.
- In the preface to this work Commandino refers to his edition of Archimedes' De iis quae vehuntur in aqua libri duo; De Insidentibus Aquae (On floating bodies) being in the press.
- No ancient treatment of such a problem was then known, and Commandino's was the first modern attempt to fill in the gap.
- These two works were published in Bologna but Commandino did not spend long in that city since Cardinal Farnese died on 28 October 1565, after which Commandino returned to Urbino.
- By this time the excessive workload that Commandino had put on himself over the years was taking its toll.
- We should mention one further achievement of Commandino, namely his improvement of the reduction compass, helping develop it into the proportional compass.
- The next step forward from the efforts of Commandino and del Monte was that of Galileo in 1606 when he developed the proportional compass into a type of slide-rule.
- This rapid ascent was assisted by Apollonius, Archimedes, Aristarchus, Euclid, Eutocius, Heron, Pappus, Ptolemy and Serenus - as published by Commandino.
Born 1506, Urbino (now Italy). Died 5 September 1575, Urbino (now Italy).
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Geometry, Origin Italy
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive