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Although for nearly a century the greatest mathematical 

classics of India have been known to western scholars, and 

several of the more important works of the Arabs for even 

longer, the mathematics of China and Japan has been closed 

to all European and American students until very recently. 

Even now we have not a single translation of a Chinese 

treatise upon the subject, and it is only within the last dozen 

years that the contributions of the native Japanese school 

have become known in the West even by name. At the 

& second International Congress of Mathematicians, held at Paris 

^ in 1900, Professor Fujisawa of the Imperial University of Tokio 

gave a brief address upon Mathematics of the old Japanese 

p School, and this may be taken as the first contribution to the 

j history of mathematics made by a native of that country in 

J a European language. The next effort of this kind showed 

? itself in occasional articles by Baron Kikuchi, as in the Nieuw 

1 Archief voor Wiskunde, some of which were based upon his 

contributions in Japanese to one of the scientific journals of 

Tokio. But the only serious attempt made up to the present 

time to present a well-ordered history of the subject in a 

European language is to be found in the very commendable 

papers by T. Hayashi, of the Imperial University at Sendai. 

The most important of these have appeared in the Nieuw 

Archief voor Wiskunde, and to them the authors are much 


Having made an extensive collection of mathematical manu- 
scripts, early printed works, and early instruments, and having 


IV Preface. 

brought together most of the European literature upon the 
subject and embodied it in a series of lectures for my classes 
in the history of mathematics, I welcomed the suggestion of 
Dr. Carus that I join with Mr. Mikami in the preparation of 
the present work. Mr. Mikami has already made for himself 
an enviable reputation as an authority upon the wasan or 
native Japanese mathematics, and his contributions to the 
Bibliotheca Mathematica have attracted the attention of western 
scholars. He has also published, as a volume of the Abhand- 
lungen zur Geschichte der Mathcmatik, a work entitled Mathe- 
matical Papers from the Far East. Moreover his labors with 
the learned T. Endo, the greatest of the historians of Japanese 
mathematics, and his consequent familiarity with the classics 
of his country, eminently fit him for a work of this nature. 

Our labors have been divided in the manner that the cir- 
cumstances would suggest. For the European literature, the 
general planning of the work, and the final writing of the text, 
the responsibility has naturally fallen to a considerable extent 
upon me. For the furnishing of the Japanese material, the 
initial translations, the scholarly search through the excellent 
library of the Academy of Sciences of Tokio, where Mr. Endo 
is librarian, and the further examination of the large amount of 
native secondary material, the responsibility has been Mr. Mi- 
kami's. To his scholarship and indefatigable labors I am in- 
debted for more material than could be used in this work, 
and whatever praise our efforts may merit should be awarded 
in large measure to him. 

The aim in writing this work has been to give a brief 
survey of the leading features in the development of the ivasan. 
It has not seemed best to enter very fully into the details of 
demonstration or into the methods of solution employed by 
the great writers whose works are described. This would not 
be done in a general history of European mathematics, and 
there is no reason why it should be done here, save in cases 
where some peculiar feature is under discussion. Undoubtedly 
several names of importance have been omitted, and at least 
a score of names that might properly have had mention have 

Preface. V 

been the subject of correspondence between the authors for 
the past year. But on the whole it may be said that most 
of those writers in whose works European scholars are likely 
to have much interest have been mentioned. 

It is the hope of the authors that this brief history may 
serve to show to the West the nature of the mathematics 
that w r as indigenous to Japan, and to strengthen the bonds 
that unite the scholars of the world through an increase in 
knowledge of and respect for the scientific attainments of a 
people whose progress in the past four centuries has been 
one of the marvels of history. 

It is only just to mention at this time the generous assistance 
rendered by Mr. Leslie Leland Locke, one of my graduate 
students in the history of mathematics, who made in my 
library the photographs for all of the illustrations used in this 
work. His intelligent and painstaking efforts to carry out the 
wishes of the authors have resulted in a series of illustrations 
that not merely elucidate the text, but give a visual idea of 
the genius of the Japanese mathematics that words alone 
cannot give. To him I take pleasure in ascribing the credit 
for this arduous labor, and in expressing the thanks of the 

Teachers College, 

Columbia University, David Eugene Smith. 

New York City, 

December r, 1913. 


The following brief vocabulary will be convenient for reference in con- 
sidering some of the Japanese titles: 

ho, method or theory. Synonym of jutsu. It is found in expressions like 

shosa ho (method of differences). 
hyo, table. 
jutsu, method or theory. Synonym of ho, It is found in words like 

kaku jutsu (polygonal theory) and tatsujutsu (method of expanding a 

root of a literal equation). 
ki t a treatise. 

roku, a treatise. Synonym of ki. 
sampo, mathematical treatise, or mathematical lules. 

sangi, rods used in computing, and as numerical coefficients in equations 
soroban, the Japanese abacus. 

tengen, celestial element. The Japanese name for the Chinese algebra. 
tenzan, the algebra of the Seki school. 
wasan, the native Japanese mathematics as distinguished from the yosan, 

the European mathematics. 
yenri, circle principle. A term applied to the native calculus of Japan. 

In Japanese proper names the surname is placed first in accordance with 
the native custom, excepting in the cases of persons now living and who 
follow the European custom of placing the surname last. 



I. The Earliest Period I 

II. The Second Period 7 

III. The Development of the Soroban 18 

IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra . . . 47 

V. The Third Period 59 

VI. Seki Kowa 91 

VII. Seki's Contemporaries and possible Western Influences .... 128 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle H3 

IX. The Eighteenth Century 163 

X. Ajima Chokuyen 195 

XL The Opening of the Nineteenth Century 206 

XII. Wada Nei 220 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan 230 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics 252 

Index . 281 


' The Earliest Period. 

The history of Japanese mathematics, from the most remote 
times to the present, may be divided into six fairly distinct 
periods. Of these the first extended from the earliest ages to 
552 T , a period that was influenced only indirectly if at all by 
Chinese mathematics. The second period of approximately a 
thousand years (552 1600) was characterized by the influx 
of Chinese learning, first through Korea and then direct from 
China itself, by some resulting native development, and by a 
season of stagnation comparable to the Dark Ages of Europe. 
The third period was less than a century in duration, extend- 
ing from about 1600 to the beginning of Seki's influence (about 
1675). This may be called the Renaissance period of Japanese 
mathematics, since it saw a new and vigorous importation of 
Chinese science, the revival of native interest through the efforts 
of the immediate predecessors of Seki, and some slight intro- 
duction of European learning through the early Dutch traders 
and through the Jesuits. The fourth period, also about a century 
in length (1675 to 1775) may be compared to the synchro- 
nous period in Europe. Just as the initiative of Descartes, 
Newton, and Leibnitz prepared the way for the labors of the 
Bernoullis, Euler, Laplace, D'Alembert, and their contemporaries 
of the eighteenth century, so the work of the great Japanese 
teacher, Seki, and of his pupil Takebe, made possible a note- 
worthy development of the wasan 2 of Japan during the same 

1 All dates are expressed according to the Christian calendar and are to 
be taken as after Christ unless the contrary is stated. 

2 The native mathematics, from Wa (Japan) and san (mathematics). The 
word is modern, having been employed to distinguish the native theory from 
the western mathematics, the yosan. 


2 I. The Earliest Period. 

century. The fifth period, which might indeed be joined with 
the fourth, but which differs from it much as the nineteenth 
century of European mathematics differs from the eighteenth, 
extended from 1775 to 1868, the date of the opening of Japan 
to the Western World. This is the period of the culmination 
of native Japanese mathematics, as influenced more or less by 
the European learning that managed to find some entrance 
through the Dutch trading station at Nagasaki and through 
the first Christian missionaries. The sixth and final period 
begins with the opening of Japan to intercourse with other 
countries and extends to the present time, a period of marvelous 
change in government, in ideals, in art, in industry, in edu- 
cation, in mathematics and the sciences generally, and in all 
that makes a nation great. With these stupendous changes 
of the present, that have led Japan to assume her place among 
the powers of the world, there has necessarily come both loss 
and gain. Just as the world regrets the apparent submerging 
of the exquisite native art of Japan in the rising tide of com- 
mercialism, so the student of the history of mathematics must 
view with sorrow the necessary decay of the wasan and the 
reduction or the elevation of this noble science to the general 
cosmopolitan level. The mathematics of the present in Japan 
is a broader science than that of the past; but it is no longer 
Japanese mathematics, it is the mathematics of the world. 

It is now proposed to speak of the first period, extending 
from the most remote times to 552. From the nature of the 
case, however, little exact information can be expected of this 
period. It [is like seeking for the early history of England 
from native sources, excluding all information transmitted 
through Roman writers. Egypt developed a literature in 
very remote times, and recorded it upon her monuments 
and upon papyrus rolls, and Babylon wrote her records upon 
both stone and clay; but Japan had no early literature, and if 
she possessed any ancient written records they have long since 

It was not until the fifteenth year of the Emperor Ojin (284), 
so the story goes, that Chinese ideograms, making their way 

I. The Earliest Period. 3 

through Korea, were first introduced into Japan. Japanese 
nobles now began to learn to read and write, a task of enor- 
mous difficulty in the Chinese system. But the records them- 
selves have long since perished, and if they contained any 
knowledge of mathematics, or if any mathematics from China 
at that time reached the shores of Japan, all knowledge of 
this fact has probably gone forever. Nevertheless there is 
always preserved in the language of a people a great amount 
of historical material, and from this and from folklore and tra- 
dition we can usually derive some little knowledge of the early 
life and customs and number-science of any nation. 

So it is with Japan. There seems to have been a number 
mysticism there as in all other countries. There was the 
usual reaching out after the unknown in the study of the stars, 
of the elements, and of the essence of life and the meaning 
of death. The general expression of wonder that comes from 
the study of number, of forms, and of the arrangements of 
words and objects, is indicated in the language and the tradi- 
tions of Japan as in the language and traditions of all other 
peoples. Thus we know that the Jindai monji, "letters of the 
era of the gods", 1 go back to remote times, and this suggests 
an early cabala, very likely with its usual accompaniment of 
number values to the letters; but of positive evidence of this 
fact we have none, and we are forced to rely at present only 
upon conjecture. 2 

Practically only one definite piece of information has come 

1 Nothing definite is known as to these letters. They may have been 
different alphabetic forms. Monji (or moji) means letters, Jin is god, and 
dai is the age or era. The expression may also be rendered "letters of the 
age of heros", using the term hero to mean a mythological semi-divinity, 
as it is used in early Greek lore. 

2 There is here, howewer, an excellent field for some Japanese scholar 
to search the native folklore for new material. Our present knowledge of 
the Jindai comes chiefly from a chapter in the Nihon-gi (Records of Japan) 
entitled Jindai no Maki (Records of the Gods' Age), written by Prince Toneri 
Shinno in 720. This is probably based upon early legends handed down by 
the Kataribe, a class of men who in ancient times transmitted the legends 
orally, somewhat like the old English bards. 


4 I. The Earliest Period. 

down to us concerning the very early mathematics of Japan, 
and this relates to the number system. Tradition tells us that 
in the reign of Izanagi-no-Mikoto, the ancestor of the Mikados, 
long before the unbroken dynasty was founded by Jimmu 
(660 B. C), a system of numeration was known that extended 
to very high powers of ten, and that embodied essentially the 
exponential law used by Archimedes in his Sand Reckoner* 1 that 

a'"a n = a m +*. 

In this system the number names were not those of the present, 
but the system may have been the same, although modern 
Japanese anthropologists have serious doubts upon this matter. 
The following table 2 has been given as representing the ancient 
system, and it is inserted as a possibility, but the whole matter 
is in need of further investigation: 





I hito 





2 futa 





3 mi 





4 yo 



so yorozu 

jiu man 

5 itsu 



momo yorozu 

hyaku man 

6 mu 



chi yorozu 

sen man 

7 nana 



yorozu yorozu 


8 ya 



so yorozu yorozu 

jiu oku 

9 koko 


10 to 


^, De harena numero, as it appears in Basel edition of 1544. 
2 ENDO, T., Dai Nikon Sitgaku Shi (History of Japanese mathematics, in 
Japanese. Tokio 1896, Book I, pp. 3 5; hereafter referred to as ENDU). 
See also KNOTT, C. G., The Abacus in its historic and scientific aspects, in the 
Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Yokohama 1 886, vol. XIV, p. 38; 
hereafter referred to as Knott. Another interesting form of counting is still 
in use in Japan, and is more closely connected with the ancient one than 
is the common form above given. It is as follows: (I) hitotsu, (2) futatsu, 
(3) mittsu, (4) yottsu, (5) itsutsu, (6) muttsu, (7) nanatsu, (8) yattsu, (9^ koko- 
notsu, (10) to. Still another form at present in use, and also related to the 
ancient one, is as follows: (l) hi, (2) fu, (3) mi, (4) yo, (5) itsu, (6) mvi, 
(7) nana, (8) ya, (9) kono, (10) to. Each of these forms is used only in 
counting, not in naming numbers, and their persistence may be compared 

I. The Earliest Period. 5 

The interesting features of the ancient system are the deci- 
mal system and the use of the word yorozu, which now means 
10000. This, however, may be a meaning that came with the 
influx of Chinese learning, and we are not at all certain that 
in ancient Japanese it stood for the Greek myriad. x The use 
of yorozu for 10000 was adopted in later times when the 
number names came to be based upon Chinese roots, and it 
may possibly have preceded the entry of Chinese learning in 
historic times. Thus IQS was not "hundred thousand" 2 in this 
later period, but "ten myriads", 3 and our million* is a hundred 
myriads, s Now this system of numeration by myriads is one 
of the frequently observed evidences of early intercourse between 
the scholars of the East and the West. Trades people and 
the populace at large did not need such large numbers, but 
to the scholar they were significant. When, therefore, we find 
the myriad as the base of the Greek system, 6 and find it 
more or less in use in India, 7 and know that it still persists 
in China, 8 and see it systematically used in the ancient Japa- 
nese system as well as in the modern number names, we are 

with that of the "counting out" rhymes of Europe and America. It should 
be added that the modern forms given above are from Chinese roots. 

1 Mupioi, 10000. 

2 Which would, if so considered, appear as momo chi t or in modern Japa- 
nese as hyaku sen. 

3 So yorozu, a softened form of to yorozu. In modern Japanese, jiu man, 
man being the myriad. 

4 Mille -f- on, "big thousand", just as saloon is salle -\- on, a big hall, and 
gallon is gill -\- on, a big gill. 

5 Momo yorozu, or, in modern Japanese, -hyaku man. 

6 See, for example, Gow, J., History of Greek Mathematics, Cambridge 1884, 
and similar works. 

^ See CoLEBROOKE, H. T., Algebra, with Arithmetic and Mensuration, from 
the Sanscrit of Brahmegupta and Bhascara. London 1817, p. 4; TAYLOR, J., 
Lilawati. Bombay 1816, p. 5. 

8 WILLIAMS, S. W., The Middle Kingdom. New York 1882; edition of 1895, 
vol. I, p. 619. Thus Wan sui is a myriad of years, and Wan sui Yeh means 
the Lord of a Myriad Years, /. e., the Emperor. The swastika is used by 
the Buddhists in China as a symbol for myriad. This use of the myriad in 
China is very ancient. 

6 I. The Earliest Period. 

convinced that there must have been a considerable intercourse 
of scholars at an early date. 1 

Of the rest of Japanese mathematics in this early period we 
are wholly ignorant, save that we know a little of the ancient 
system of measures and that a calendar existed. How the 
merchants computed, whether the almost universal finger compu- 
tation of ancient peoples had found its way so far to the East, 
what was known in the way of mensuration, how much of a 
crude primitive observation of the movements of the stars was 
carried on, what part was played by the priest in the orien- 
tation of shrines and temples, what was the mystic significance 
of certain numbers, what, if anything, was done in the record- 
ing of numbers by knotted cords, or in representing them by 
symbols, all these things are looked for in the study of any 
primitive mathematics, but they are looked for in vain in the 
evidences thus far at hand with respect to the earliest period 
of Japanese history. It is to be hoped that the spirit of in- 
vestigation that is now so manifest in Japan will result in 
throwing more light upon this interesting period in which 
mathematics took its first root upon Japanese soil. 

* There is considerable literature upon this subject, and it deserves even 
more attention. See, for example, the following: KLINGSMILL, T. W., The 
Intercourse of China with Eastern Turkestan . . . in the second century B. C., in 
the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, N. S., London 1882, vol. XIV, p. 74. 
A Japanese scholar, T. Kimura, is just at present maintaining that his people 
have a common ancestry with the races of the Greco-Roman civilization, 
basing his belief upon a comparison of the mythology and the language of 
the two civilizations. See also P. VON BOHLEN, Das alie Indien mil besonderer 
Riicksicht anf ^Egypten. Konigsberg 1830; REINAUD, Relations politiques et com- 
merciales de F Empire Romain avec FAsie orient ale. Paris 1863; P. A. DI SAN 
FlLIPO, Delle Relazioni antiche et moderne fra L' Italia e I' India. Rome 1 886; 
SMITH and KARPINSKI, The Hindu-Arabic Numerals. Boston 1911, with exten- 
sive bibliography on this point. 

The Second Period. 

The second period in the history of Japanese mathematics 
(552 1600) corresponds both in time and in nature with the 
Dark Ages of Europe. Just as the Northern European lands 
came in contact with the South, and imbibed some slight 
draught of classical learning, and then lapsed into a state of 
indifference except for the influence of an occasional great soul 
like that of Charlemagne or of certain noble minds in the 
Church, so Japan, subject to the same Zeitgeist, drank lightly 
at the Chinese fountain and then lapsed again into semi- 
barbarism. Europe had her Gerbert, and Leonardo of Pisa, 
and Sacrobosco, but they seem like isolated beacons in the 
darkness of the Middle Ages; and in the same way Japan, as 
we shall see, had a few scholars who tended the lamp of 
learning in the medieval night, and who are known for their 
fidelity rather than for their genius. 

Just as in the West we take the fall of Rome (476) and the 
fall of Constantinople (1453), two momentous events, as con- 
venient limits for the Dark Ages, so in Japan we may take 
the introduction of Buddhism (552) and the revival of learning 
(about 1600) as similar limits, at least in our study of the 
mathematics of the country. 

It was in round numbers a thousand years after the death 
of Buddha 1 that his religion found its way into Japan. 2 The 

1 The Shinshiu or "True Sect" of Buddhists place his death as early as 
949 B. C., but the Singalese Buddhists place it at 543 B. C. Rhys Davids, 
who has done so much to make Buddhism known to English readers, gives 
412 B. C., and Max Miiller makes it 477 B. C., See also SUMNER, J-, Buddhism 
and traditions concerning its introduction into Japan, Transactions of the Asiatic 
Society of Japan, Yokohama 1886, vol. XIV, p. 73. He gives the death of 
Buddha as 544 B. C. 

2 It was introduced into China in 64 A. D., and into Korea in 372. 

8 II. The Second Period. 

date usually assigned to this introduction is 552, when an image 
of Buddha was set up in the court of the Mikado; but evidence 1 
has been found which leads to the belief that in the sixteenth 
year of Keitai Tenno (an emperor who reigned in Japan from 
507 to 531), that is in the year 522, a certain man named 
Szu-ma Ta 2 came from Nan-Liang 3 in China, and set up a 
shrine in the province of Yamato, and in it placed an image 
of Buddha, and began to expound his religion. Be this as it 
may, Buddhism secured a foothold in Japan not far from the 
traditional date of 552, and two years later* Wang Pao-san, 
a master of the calendar, s and Wang Pao-liang, doctor ot 
chronology, 6 an astrologer, crossed over from Korea and made 
known the Chinese chronological system. A little later a 
Korean priest named Kanroku 7 crossed from his native country 
and presented to the Empress Suiko a set of books upon 
astrology and the calendar. 8 In the twelfth year of her reign 
(604) almanacs were first used in Japan, and at this period 
Prince Shotoku Taishi proved himself such a fosterer of 
Buddhism and of learning that his memory is still held in high 
esteem. Indeed, so great was the fame of Shotoku Taishi 
that tradition makes him the father of Japanese arithmetic 
and even the inventor of the abacus. 9 (Fig- !) 

A little later the Chinese system of measures was adopted, 
and in general the influence of China seems at once to have 

1 See SUMNER, loc. cit., p. 78. 

2 In Japanese, Shiba Tatsu. 

3 I. e., South Liang, Liang being one of the southern monarchies. 

4 I. e., in 554, or possibly 553. 

5 In Europe he would have had charge of the Compotus, the science of 
the Church calendar, in a Western monastery. 

6 Also called a Doctor of Yih. The doctrine of Yih (changes) is set forth 
in the Yih King (Book of Changes), one of the ancient Five Classics of the 
Chinese. There is a very extensive literature upon this subject. 

7 Or Ch'iian-lo. 

8 SUMNER, loc. cit , p. 80, gives the date as 593. Endo, who is the leading 
Japanese authority, gives it as 602. 

9 That this is without foundation will appear in Chapter III. The soroban 
which he holds in the illustration here given is an anachronism. 

II. The Second Period. 

become very marked. Fortunately, just about this time, the 
Emperor Tenchi (Tenji) began his short but noteworthy reign 
(668 671). ' While yet crown prince this liberal-minded man 
invented a water clock, and divided the day into a hundred 
hours, and upon ascending the throne he 
showed his further interest by founding a 
school to which two doctors of arithmetic 
and twenty students of the subject were 
appointed. An observatory was also 
established, and from this time mathema- 
tics had recognized standing in Japan. 

The official records show that a uni- 
versity system was established by the 
Emperor Monbu in 701, and that mathe- 
matical studies were recognized and were 
regulated in the higher institutions of 
learning. Nine Chinese works were speci- 
fied, as follows: (i) Chou-pei(Suan-ching), 
(2) Sun-tsu (Suan- eking), (3) Liu-chang, 
(4) San-k'ai Chung- ch' a, (5) Wu-fsao 
(Suan-s/m), (6) Hai-tao (Suan-sJni), 
(7) Chiu-szu, (8) Chiu-chang, (9) Chui- 
skn. 2 Of these works, apparently the most 
famous of their time, the third, fourth, 
and seventh are lost. The others are 
probably known, and although they are 
not of native Japanese production they so Shotoku Taishi, with a 

it . ,, .. ' f soroban. From a bronze 

greatly influenced the mathematics ot 


Japan as to deserve some description at 

this time. We shall therefore consider them in the order 

above given. 

i. Chou-pei Suan-cJiing. This is one of the oldest of the 
Chinese works on mathematics, and is commonly known in 

Fig. i. 

1 MURRAY, D., The Story of Japan. N. Y. 1894, p. 398, from the official 

2 ENDO, Book I, pp. 12 13. 

IO II. The Second Period. 

China as Chow-pi, said to mean the "Thigh bone of Chow". 1 
The thigh bone possibly signifies, from its shape, the base and 
altitude of a triangle. Chow is thought to be the name of a 
certain scholar who died in 1105 B. C, but it may have been 
simply the name of the dynasty. This scholar is sometimes 
spoken of as Chow Kung, 2 and is said to have had a discussion 
with a nobleman named Kaou, or Shang Kao,3 which is set 
forth in this book in the form of a dialogue. The topic is our 
so-called Pythagorean theorem, and the time is over five hundred 
years before Pythagoras gave what was probably the first 
scientific proof of the proposition. The work relates to geo- 
metric measures and to astronomy. 4 

2. Sun-tsu Suan-ching. This treatise consists of three books, 
and is commonly known in China as the Swan-king (Arith- 
metical classic) of Sun-tsu (Sun-tsze, or Swen-tse), a writer 
who lived probably in the 3d century A. D., but possibly much 
earlier. Ttie work attracted much attention and is referred to 
by most of the later writers, and several commentaries have 
appeared upon it. Sun-tsu treats of algebraic quantities, and 
gives an example in indeterminate equations. This problem is 
to "find a number which, when divided by 3 leaves a remainder 
of 2, when divided by 5 leaves 3, and when divided by 
7 leaves 2."s This work is sometimes, but without any good 
reason, assigned to Sun Wu, one of the most illustrations men 
of the 6th century B. C. 

3. Liu- Chang. This is unknown. There was a writer named 

'* Pi means leg, thigh, thigh-bone. 

2 Chi Tan, known as Chow Kung (that is, the Duke of Chow), was brother 
and advisor to the Emperor Wu Wang of the Chow dynasty. It is possible 
that he wrote the Chow Li, "Institutions of the Chow Dynasty", although it 
is more probable that it was written for him. The establishment and 
prosperity of the Chow dynasty is largely due to him. There is no little 
doubt as to the antiquity of this work, and the critical study of scholars may 
eventually place it much later than the traditional date here given. 

3 Also written Shang Kaou. 

4 For a translation of the dialogue see WYLIE, A., Chinese Researches. 
Shanghai 1897, Part III, p. 163. 

5 His result is 23. For his method of solving see WYLIE, loc. cit., p. 175. 

II. The Second Period. II 

Liu Hui 1 who wrote a treatise entitled Chung -ctt a, but this 
seems to be No. 4 in the list. 

4. San-fcai Chung- eft a. This is also unknown, but is per- 
haps Liu Hui's Cliung-cfta-keal-tsih-wang-chi-shuh (The 
whole system of measuring by the observation of several 
beacons), published in 263. The author also wrote a com- 
mentary on the Chiu-chang (No. 8 in this list). It relates 
to the mensuration of heights and distances, and gives only 
the rules without any explanation. About 1250 Yang Hway 
published a work entitled Siang-kiai-Kew-chang-Swan-fa (Ex- 
planation of the arithmetic of the Nine Sections), but this is too late 
for our purposes. He also wrote a work with a similar title Siang- 
kiai-Jeh-yung-Swan-fa (Explanation of arithmetic for daily use). 

5. Wu-t'sao Suan-shu. The author and the date of this work 
are both unknown, but it seems to have been written in the 
2d or 3d century. 2 It is one of the standard treatises on 
arithmetic of the Chinese. 

6. Hai-tao Suan-shu. This was a republication of No. 4, and 
appeared about the time of the Japanese decree of 701. The 
name signifies "The Island Arithmetical Classic", -5 and seems 
to come from the first problem, which relates to the measuring 
of an island from a distant point. 

7. Chiu-szu. This work, which was probably a commentary 
on the Suan-sJm (Swan-king] of No. 8, is lost. 

8. CJdu-chang. Chiu-chang Suan-shu* means "Arithmetical 
Rules in Nine Sections". It is the greatest arithmetical classic 
of China, and tradition assigns to it remote antiquity. It is 
related in the ancient Tung-kien-kang-muh (General History of 
China) that the Emperor Hwang-ti,s who lived in 2637 B. C, 

1 Lew-hwuy according to Wylie's transliteration, who also assigns him to 
about the 5th century B. C. 

2 But see WYLIE, loc. cit., who refers it to about the 5th century, and 
improperly states that Wu-t'sao is the author's name. He gives it the com- 
mon name of Swan king (Arithmetical classic). 

3 Also written Hae-taou-swan-king. 

4 Kew chang-swan-shu, Kiu-chang-san-suh, Kieou chang. 

5 Or Hoan-ti, the "Yellow Emperor". Some writers give the date much earlier. 

12 II. The Second Period. 

caused his minister Li Show 1 to form the Ckiu-chang.* Of 
the text of the original work we are not certain, for the reason 
that during the Ch'in dynasty (220 205 B. C.) the emperor 
Chi Hoang-ti decreed, in 213 B. C, that all the books in 
the empire should be burned. And while it is probable that 
the classics were all surreptitiously preserved, and while they 
could all have been repeated from memory, still the text may 
have been more or less corrupted during the reign of this 
oriental vandal. The text as it comes to us is that of Chang 
T'sang of the second century B. C., revised by Ching Ch'ou- 
ch'ang about a hundred years later. 3 Both of these writers 
lived in the Former Han* dynasty (202 B. C. 24 A. D.), a 
period corresponding in time and in fact with the Augustan age 
in Europe, and one in which great effort was made to restore 
the lost classics, s and both were ministers of the emperor. 

This classical work had such an effect upon the mathematics 
of Japan that a summary of the contents of the books or chapters 
of which it is composed will not be out of place. The work 
contained 246 problems, and these are arranged in nine sect- 
ions as follows: 

(1) Fang-tien, surveying. This relates to the mensuration of 
various plane figures, including triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, 
circular segments and sectors, and the annulus. It also contains 
some treatment of fractions. 

(2) Suh-pu (Shu-poo). This treats chiefly of commercial 
problems solved by the "rule of three". 

(3) Shwai-fen (Shwae-fun, SJmai-feii). This deals with partner- 

1 Or Li-shou. 

2 WVLIE, A., Jottings of the Science of Chinese Arithmetic, North China 
Herald for 1852, Shanghai Almanac for 1853, Chinese Researches, Shanghai 
1897, Part III, page 159; BIERNATZKI, Die Arithmetic der Chinesen, CRELLE'S 
Journal for 1856, vol. 52. 

3 For this information we are indebted to the testimony of Liu Hui, whose 
commentary was written in 263. 

4 Also known as the Western Han. 

5 LEGGE, J., The Chinese Classics. Oxford 1893, 2nd edition, vol. I, p. 4. 

II. The Second Period. 13 

(4) Shao-kang (Sliaou-kwang). This relates to the extraction 
of square and cube roots, the process being much like that of 
the present time. 

(5) Shang-kung. This has reference to the mensuration of 
such solids as the prism, cylinder, pyramid, circular cone, 
frustum of a cone, tetrahedron, and wedge. 

(6) Kin-sJiu (Kiun-shoo, Ghiin-sJni) treats of alligation. 

(/) Ying-pu-tsu (Yung-yu, Yin-nuk). This chapter treats of 
"Excess and deficiency", and follows essentially the old rule 
of false position. J 

(8) Fang-ctieng (Fang-cheng, Fang- cliing). This chapter 
relates to linear equations involving two or more unknown 
quantities, in which both positive (ching) or negative (foo) terms 
are employed. The following example is a type: "If 5 oxen 
and 2 sheep cost 10 taels of gold, and 2 oxen and 8 sheep 
cost 8 taels, what is the price of each?" It is probable that 
this chapter contains the earliest known mention of a negative 
quantity, and if the ancient text has not been corrupted Jit 
places this kind of number between 2000 and 3000 B. C. 

(9) Kou-ku, a term meaning a right triangle. The essential 
feature of this chapter is the Pythagorean theorem, which is 
stated as follows: "The first side and the second side being 
each squared and added, the square root of the sum is 
the hypotenuse." One of the twenty -four problems in this 
section involves the equation x 2 - + (20 + 14) x 2 x 20 x 1775 = o, 
and a rule is laid down that is equivalent to the modern for- 
mula for the quadratic. If these problems were in the original 
text, and that text has the antiquity usually assigned to it, 
concerning neither of which we are at all certain, then they 
contain the oldest known quadratic equation. The interrelation 
of ancient mathematics is seen in two problems in this chapter. 
One is that of the reed growing i foot above the surface in the 
center of a pond 10 feet square, which just reaches the surface 
when drawn to the edge of the pond, it being required to find the 

1 The Regula falsi or Regula positionis of the Middle Ages in Europe. The 
rule seems to have been of oriental origin. 

14 II. The Second Period. 

depth of the water. The other is the problem of the broken 
tree that has been a stock question for four thousand years. 
Both of these problems are found in the early Hindu works 
and were among the medieval importations into Europe. 

The value of it 1 used in the "Nine Sections" is 3, as was 
the case generally in early times. 2 Commentators changed this 

later, Liu Hui (263) giving the value , which is equivalent to 
3-*4- 3 

9. Chui-shu. This is usually supposed to be Tsu Ch'ung- 
chih's work which has been lost and is now known only by name. 

This list includes all of the important Chinese classics in 
mathematics that had appeared before it was made, and it 
shows a serious attempt to introduce the best material available 
into the schools of Japan at the opening of the 8th century. 
It seemed that the country had entered upon an era of great 
intellectual prosperity, but it was like the period of Charle- 
magne, so nearly synchronous with it, a temporary beacon 
in a dark night. Instead of leading scholars to the study of 
pure mathematics, this introduction of Chinese science, at a 
time when the people were not fully capable of appreciating 
it, seemed rather to foster a study of astrology, and mathe- 
matics degenerated into mere puzzle solving, the telling of 
fortunes, and the casting of horoscopes. Japan itself was given 
up to wars and rumors of wars. The "Nine Sections" was 
forgotten, and a man who actually knew arithmetic was looked 
upon as a genius. The samurai or noble class disdained all 
commercial pursuits, and ability to operate with numbers was 
looked upon as evidence of low birth. Professor Nitobe has 
given us a picture of this feudal society in his charming little 
book entitled Bushido, TJie Soul of Japan. * " Children," he 

1 In Chinese Chou-le; in Japanese yenshu ritsu. 

2 It is also found in the Chou-pei, No. 1 in this list. 

f 3 MlKAMI, Y., On Chinese Circle Squarers, in the Bibliotheca Mathcnialica, 
1910, vol. X(3), p. 193. 

4 Tokio 1905) p. 88. Some historical view of these early times is given 
in an excellent work by W.H. SHARP, The Educational System of Japan. Bombay 
1906, pp. I, 10, II. 

II. The Second Period. 15 

says, "were brought up with utter disregard of economy. It 
was considered bad taste to speak of it, and ignorance of the 
value of different coins was a token of good breeding. Know- 
ledge of numbers was indispensable in the mastering of forces 
as well as in the distribution of benefices and fiefs, but the 
counting of money was left to meaner hands." Only in the 
Buddhist temples in Japan, as in the Christian church schools 
in Europe, was the lamp of learning kept burning. * In each 
case, however, mathematics was not a subject that appealed 
to the religious body. A crude theology, a purposeless logic, 
a feeble literature, these had some standing; but mathematics 
save for calendar purposes was ever an outcast in the temple 
and the church, save as it occasionally found some eccentric 
individual to befriend it. In the period of the Ashikaga 
shoguns it is asserted that there hardly could be found in all 
Japan a man who was versed in the art of division. 2 To divide, 
the merchant resorted to the process known as Shokei-zan, a 
scheme of multiplication 3 which seems in some way to have 
served for the inverse process as well. 4 Nevertheless the asser- 
tion that the art of division was lost during this era of constant 
wars is not exact. Manuscripts on the calendar, corresponding 
to the European compotus rolls, and belonging to the period 
in question, contain examples of division, and it is probable 
that here, as in the West, the religious communities always 
had someone who knew the rudiments of calendar-reckoning. 
(Fig. 2.} 

Three names stand out during these Dark Ages as worthy 
of mention. The first is that of Tenjin, or Michizane, counsellor 
and teacher in the court of the Emperor Uda (888 898). 

1 Notably in the case of the labors of the learned Kobo Daishi, founder 
of the Chenyen sect of Buddhists, who was born in 774 A. D. See Professor 
T. TANIMOTO'S address on Kobo Daishi. Kobe 1907. 

2 ENDO, Book I, p. 30. 

3 UCHIDA GOKAN, Kokon Sankwan, 1832, preface. 

4 This is the opinion of MURAI CHIIZEN who lived in the 1 8th century. 
See his Sampo Doshi-mon. 1781. Book I, article on the origin of arith- 


II. The Second Period. 

Fig. 2. Japanese Calendar Rolls. 

Uda's successor, Daigo, banished him from the court and 
he died in 903. He was a learned man, and after his death 
he was canonized under the name Tenjin (Heavenly man) and 

II. The Second Period. 

Fig. 3' Tenjin, from an old bronze. 

was looked upon as the patron of science and letters. (See 
Fig. 3.) The second is that of Michinori, Lord of the pro- 
vince of Hyuga. His name is connected with a mathematical 
theory called the KeisJii- 
san. I It seems to have been 
related to permutations and 
to have been thought of 
enough consequence to 
attract the attention of 
Yoshida a and of his great 
successor Seki3 in the 
1 7th century. Michinori's 
work was written in the 
Hogenperiod(ii56 1159). 

The third name is that 
of Gensho, a Buddhist priest 
in the time of Shogun 
Yoriyiye, at the opening 
of the 1 3th century. Trad- 
ition* says that he was distinguished for his arithmetical powers, 
but so far as we know he wrote nothing and had no per- 
manent influence upon mathematics. 

Thus passes and closes a period of a thousand years, with 
not a single book of any merit, and without advancing the 
science of mathematics a single pace. Europe was backward 
enough, but Japan was worse. China was doing a little, India 
was doing more, but the Arab was accomplishing still more 
through his restlessness of spirit if not through his mathe- 
matical genius. The world's rebirth was approaching, and this 
Renaissance came to Japan at about the time that it came to 
Europe, accompanied in both cases by a grafting of foreign 
learning upon native stock. 

1 ENDd, Book I, p. 28; Murai Chuzen, Sampo Doshimon, 

2 See his Jinko-ki of 1627. 

3 See Chapter VI. 

4 See ISOMURA KlTTOKU, Shusho Ketstigisho, 1684, Book 4, marginal note. 
Isomura died in 1710. 



The Development of the Soroban. 

Before proceeding to a consideration of the third period of 
Japanese mathematics, approximately the seventeenth century 
of the Christian era, it becomes necessary to turn our attention 
to the history of the simple but remarkable calculating machine 
which is universal in all parts of the Island Empire, the soroban. 
This will be followed by a chapter upon another mechanical 
aid known as the sangi, since each of these devices had a 
marked influence upon higher as well as elementary mathe- 
matics from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. 1 

The numeral systems of the ancients were so unsuited to 
the purposes of actual calculation that probably some form of 
mechanical calculation was always necessary. This fact is the 
more evident when we consider that convenient writing material 

* The literature of these forms of the abacus is extensive. The following 
are some of the most important sources: VISSIERE, A., Recherches sur I'origine 
de fabacque chinois, in Bulletin de Geographie. Paris 1892; KNOTT, C. G., The 
Abacus in its historic and scientific aspects, in the Transactions of the Asiatic 
Society of Japan, Yokohama 1886, vol. 14, p. 18; GOSCHKEWITSCH, J., Ueber 
das Chinesiche Rechenbrett, in the Arbeiten der Kaiserlich Russischen Gesand- 
schaft zu Peking, Berlin 1858, vol. I, p. 293 (no history); VAN NAME, R., On 
the Abacus of China and Japan, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 18/5, 
vol. X, proc., p. CX; RODET, L., Le souan-pan des Chinois, Bulletin de la 
Sociele mathematique de France, 1880, vol. VIII; DE LA CoUPERIE, A. T., The 
Old Numerals, the Counting- Rods, and the Swan-pan, Numismatic Chronicle, 
London 1883, vol. Ill (3), p. 297; HAYASHI, T., A brief history of Japanese 
Mathematics, part I, p. 18; HUBNER, M., Die charakteristischen Formen des 
Rechenbretts, Zeitschrift fur Lehrmittehvesen etc., Wien 1906, II. Jahrg., p. 47 
(not historical). There is also an extensive literature relating to other forms 
of the abacus. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 19 

was a late product, papyrus being unknown in Greece for 
example before the seventh century B. C., parchment being an 
invention of the fifth r century B. C, paper being a relatively 
late product, 2 and metal and stone being the common media 
for the transmission of written knowledge in the earlier centuries 
in China. On account of the crude numeral systems of the 
ancients and the scarcity of convenient writing material, there 
were invented in very early times various forms of the abacus, 
and this instrumental arithmetic did not give way to the 
graphical in western Europe until well into the Renaissance 
period. 3 In eastern Europe it never has been replaced, for the 
tschotii is used everywhere in Russia today, and when one 
passes over into Persia the same type of abacus* is common 
in all the bazaars. In China the swan-pan is universally used 
for purposes of computation, and in Japan the soroban is as 
strongly entrenched as it was before the invasion of western 

The Japanese soroban is a comparatively recent invention, having 
been derived from the Chinese swan-pan (Fig. 10), which is also 
relatively modern. The earlier means employed in China are 
known to us chiefly through the masterly work of Mei Wen- 
ting (1633 1721)5 entitled Kou-swan-K > i-k'ao. 6 Mei Wen-ting 
was one of the greatest Chinese mathematicians, the author 
of upwards of eighty works or memoirs, and one of the lead- 
ing writers on the history of mathematics among his people. 
He tells us that the early instrument of calculation was a set. 

1 Pliny says of the second century B. C. 

2 It seems to have been brought into Europe by the Moors in the twelfth 

3 See SMITH, D. E., Rara Arithmetica, Boston 1909, index under Counters. 

4 Known in Armenia as the choreb, in Turkey as the coulba. 

5 Surnamed Ting-kieou and Wou-ngan. He lived. in the brilliant reign of 
Kang-hi, who had been educated partly under tbe influence of the Jesuit 

6 Researches on ancient calculating instruments. See VisslEre, loc. cit., 
p. 7, from whom I have freely quoted; WYLIE, A., Notes on Chinese Literature, 
p. 91. 


2O III. The Development of the Soroban. 

of rods, ch'eouS The earliest definite information that we have 
of the use of these rods is in the Han Sim (Records of the 
Han Dynasty), which was written by Pan Ku of the Later Han 
period, in the year 80 of our era. According to him the 
ancient arithmeticians used comparatively long rods, 2 and the 
commentary of Sou. Lin on the Han history tells us that two 
hundred seventy-one of these formed a set. 3 Furthermore, in 
the Che-chouo (Narrative of the Century), written by Lieou Yi- 
k'ing in the fifth century, it appears that ivory rods were used. 
We also find that the ancient ideograph for swan (reckoning) 
is 1 1 1 J]"[ , a form that is manifestly derived from the rods, and 
that is evidently the source of the present Chinese ideograph. 
Mei Wen-ting says that it is impossible to give the origin of 
these rods, but he believes that the ancient classic, the Yi/i-king, 
gives evidence, in its mystic trigrams, of their very early use. 4 
As to the size of the rods in ancient times we are not informed, 
none being now extant, but an early work on cooking, the Cliong- 
k'ouei-lou, speaks of cutting pieces of meat 3 inches long, like 
a calculating rod, from which we get some idea of their length. 
As to the early Chinese method of representing numbers, 
we have a description by Ts'ai Ch'en, surnamed Kieou-fong 
(1167 1230), a philosopher of the Song dynasty. In his Hong- 
fan (Book of Annals) he gives the numerals as follows: 

i ii 111 mi HUM mi. .limn iiiiT-Ti-ii 

123456789 12 25 46 69 99 

* There is not space in this work to enter into a discussion of the possible 
earlier use of knotted cords, a primitive system in many parts of the world. 
Lao-tze, "the old philosopher", refers to them in his Tao-teh-king, a famous 
classic of the sixth century B. C., saying: "Let the people return to knotted 
cords (chieng-shing) and use them." See the English edition by Dr. P. CARCS. 
Chicago, 1898, pp. 137, 272, 323. 

2 The text says 6 units (inches) but we do not know^the length of the 
unit (inch) of that periojd. 

3 The old word means, possibly, a handful. 

4 The date of the Yih-King or Book of Changes is uncertain. It is often 
spoken of as Antiquissimus Sinarum liber, as in an edition by JULIUS MOHL, 
Stuttgart, 1834 9, 2 vols. It is ascribed to Fuh-hi (B. C. 3322) the fabled 
founder of the nation. There is an extensive literature upon the subject. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 21 

Furthermore the great astronomer and engineer of the Mongol 
dynasty, Kouo Sheou-kin (1281), in his SJieou-she Li, a treatise 
on the calendar, gives the number 198617 in the following 
form, which may be compared with the Japanese sangi of 

which we shall presently speak: | |||| i ~|~ J[. This plan 
is much older than the thirteenth century, however, for in the 
Snn-tsu Snan-cJiing mentioned in Chapter II, written by Sun- 
tsu about the third century, it is stated that the units should 
be vertical, the tens horizontal, the hundreds vertical, the 
thousands horizontal, and so on, and that for 6 one should not 
use six rods, since a single rod suffices for 5. These rules are 
repeated, almost verbatim, in the Hia-heou Yang Suan-ching, 
one of the Chinese mathematical classics, probably of the sixth 
century. The rods are therefore very old, and they were the 
common means of representing numbers in China, as we shall 
see was also the case in Japan, until a relatively late period. 
As to the methods of operating with the rods, Yang Houei, 
in his Siu-kou-CJiai-ki-Swan-fa of 1275 or 1276, gives the 
following example in multiplication: 

= 1 1 1 1 _ = multiplier = 247 
_L 1 1 1 J_ = multiplicand = 736 

I J= I J= ITTT = = P^duct = 181 792 
From China the calculating rods passed to Korea where the 
natives use them even to this day. These sticks are commonly 
made of bamboo, split into square prisms, and numbering 
about 1 50 in a set. They are kept in a bamboo case, although 
some are made of bone and are kept in a cloth bag as shown 
in the illustration, (Fig. 4.). The Korean represents his numbers 
from left to right, laying the rods as follows: 

i ii 111 mi x xi xn xui xini T 1 

123 4 56 7 8- 9 10 ii 

i We are indebted to an educated Korean, Mr. C. Cho, of the Methodist 
Publishing House in Tokio, for this information. On the mathematics of 
Korea in general, see LOWELL, P., The Land of the Morning Calm. Boston 
1886, p. 250. One of the leading classics of the country is the Song- yang 
Jwei soan fa, or Song yang- houi san pep (Treatise on Arithmetic by Yang Hoei 


III. The Development of the Soroban. 


Fig. 4. Korean computing rods. 

of the Song Dynasty), written in 1275 by Yang Hoei, whose literary name was 
Khien Koang; see M. COURANT, Bibliographic Coreenne. Paris 1896, vol. Ill, p. I. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 23 

The date of the introduction of the rods into Japan is un- 
known, but at any rate from the time of the Empress Suiko 
(593 628 A. D.) 1 the chikusaku (bamboo rods) were used. 
These were thin round sticks about 2 mm. in diameter and 
1 2 cm. in length, but because of their liability to roll they were 
in due time replaced by the sangi pieces, square prisms about 
7 mm. thick and 5 cm. long. (Fig. 5.) When this transition 

Fig. 5. The sangi or computing rods. Nineteenth century specimens. 

took place is unknown, nor is it material since the methods 
of using the two were the same.* 

The method of representing the numbers by means of the 
sangi was the same as the one already described as having 
long been used by the Chinese. The units, hundreds, ten 

1 HAYASHI, T , A brief history of the Japanese Mathematics, in the Nienw 
Archief voor Wiskunde, tweede Reeks, zesde en sevende Deel, part I, p. 1 8. 

2 Indeed it is not certain that there was a sudden change from one to 
the other or that the names signified two different forms. The old Chinese 
names were ch'eou (which is the Japanese sangi) and t'se, and these were 
used as synonymous. 

24 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

thousands, and so on for the odd places, were represented as 


1234 56789 

The tens, thousands, hundred thousands, and so on for the 
the even places, were represented as follows: 

IO 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 

These numerals were arranged in a series of squares resembling 
our chess-board, called a swan-pan, although not at all like 
the Chinese abacus that bears this name. The following illustra- 
tion (Fig. 6), taken from Sato Shigeharu's Tengen Sliinan of 
1698, shows its general form: 


Fig. 6. The general form of the sangi board, from a work of 1698. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 25 

The number 38057, for example, would be represented thus: 





The number 1267, represented by the sangi without the ruled 
board. Is shown in Fig. 7. 

From representing the numbers by the sangi on a ruled 
board came a much later method of transferring the lines to 

Fig. 7. The number 1267 represented by sattgi. 

paper, and using a circle to represent the vacant square. This 
could only have occurred after the zero had reached China 
and had been passed on to Japan, but the date is only a 
matter of conjecture. By this method, instead of having 38057 
represented as shown above, we should have it written thus: 

In laying down the rods a red piece indicated a positive number 
and a black one a negative. In writing, however, a mark 
placed obliquely across a number indicated subtraction. Thus, 

pU meant 3, and T" meant 6. 

The use of the sangi in the fundamental operations may be 
illustrated by the following example in which we are required 


III. The Development of the Soroban. 

to find the sho (quotient) given the jitsu (dividend) 276, and 
the ho (divisor) I2. 1 

jitsu (276) 
ho (12) 





First consider the jitsu as negative, indicating the fact in this 





The first figure 

of the sho is evidently 2: 








Multiply the ho by 20, and put the product, 240, beside the 
jitsu, thus: 








1 These examples are taken from HAYASHI'S History. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 
which, by combining numbers in the jitsu, reduces to 








The ho is now advanced one place, exactly as was done in 
the early European plan of division by the galley method, 
after which the next figure of the slid is evidently 3, and the 
work appears as follows: 






Multiplying the ho by 3 the product, 36, is again written beside 
the jitsu, giving 






a result which is written thus : 1 1 1 . 

In order that the appearance of the sangi in actual use may 
be more clearly seen, a page from Nishiwaki Richyu's Sampo 
Tengen Roku of 1714 is reproduced in Fig. 8, and an illustra- 
tion from Miyake Kenryu's Shojutsu Sangaku Zuye of 1795 in i/ 
Fig. 9. 

28 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

t, - 


i ^^ 












" r^L 








A E3 7 * 
1 ?* 

I] t IP) V ? ^ 3% %_ 

m ^ ^ . T ^ '^^l 

L -^ ife El H ^ - 

a^ > \ .* > ^ 

Fig. 8. Sangi board. From Nishiwaki Richyu's Sampo Tettgen Roku of 1 7 14. 

In the later years of the sangi computation the custom of 
arranging the even places differently from the odd places 
changed, and instead of representing 38057 by the old method 1 
as shown 'on page 25, it was represented thus: 

1 Called Son-shi-Reppu-ho, the Method of arrangement of Sun-tsu. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 



This was done only on the ruled squares, however, the written 
form remaining as shown on page 25. 

The transition from the cJteou or rod calculation to the 
present form of abacus in China next demands our attention. 
Mei Wen-ting, whose name has already been mentioned, ex- 
presses regret that an exact date for the abacus cannot be 

Fig. 9. From Miyake Kenryu's work of 1795. 

fixed. He says, however, <l lf, in my ignorance, I may be 
allowed to hazard a guess, I should say that it began with the 
first years of the Ming Dynasty." This would be 
when T'ai-tsou, the first Ming emperor, undertook to refo 
the calendar. At any rate, Mei Wen-ting concludes that in 
the reform of the calendar in 1281 rods were used, while in 
that of 1384 the abacus was employed. There is evidence, 
however, that the abacus was known in China in the twelfth 
century, but that it was not until the fourteenth that it was 
commonly used. 1 Since a division table such as is used in 
manipulating the swan-pan is given in a work by Yang Hui 
who flourished at the close of the Song Dynasty, in the latter 

1 VISSIKRE, loc. dt.\ MIKAMI, Y., A Remark on the Chinese Mathematics in 
Cantor's Geschichtc der Mathemalik, Archiv dcr Mathematik und Physik, vol. XV (3), 
Heft i. 

30 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

half of the thirteenth century, we have reason to believe that 
the swan-pan was known at that time. Moreover we have the 
titles of several books such as Chon-pan Chi and Pan-chou CJd 
recorded in the Historical Records of the Song Dynasty, which 
seem to refer to this instrument. It must also be admitted 
that at least one much earlier work mentions "computations 
by means of balls," although this seems to have been only a 

Fig. 10. The Chinese swan-pan, indicating the number 27091. 

local plan known to but few. That the Roman abacus should 
have been known very early in China is not only probable 
but fairly certain, in view of the relations between China and 
Italy at the time of the Caesars. 1 

The Chinese abacus is known commonly as the swan-pan 
(swan -/an, "reckoning table"). In southern China it is also 
known as the soo-pan, z and in Calcutta, where the Chinese 
shroffs employ it, the name is corrupted to swinbon. The 
literary name is cliou-p'an ("ball table" or "pearl table"). As 
will be seen by the illustration there are five balls below the 

1 See SMITH and KARPINSKI, loc. tit., p. 79. 

2 BOWRING, J., The Decimal System. London 1854, p. 193. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 


line and two above, each of the latter counting as five. In 
the illustration (Fig. 10) the balls are placed to represent 27091. 
The balls are called chou (pearls) or 
tse (son, child, grain), and are common- 
ly spoken of as swan- fan chon-tse. 
The transverse bar is the leang (beam) 
or tsi-leang (spinal colum, also used 
to designate the ridge-pole of a roof). 
The columns are called wei (positions), 
hang (lines), or tang (steps, or bars). 
The left side is called ts'ien (front) 
and the right side heou (rear). This 
was the instrument that replaced the 
ancient rods about the year 1300, per- 
haps suggested by the ancient Roman 
abacus which it resembles quite closely, 
perhaps by some form of instrument 
in Central Asia, and perhaps invented 
by the Chinese themselves. The re- 
semblance to the Roman form, and 
the known intercourse with the West, 
both favor the first of these hypo- 

Just as the Japanese received the 
sangi from China, perhaps by way of 
Korea, so they received the abacus 
from the same source. They call their 
nstrument by the name soroban, which 
some have thought to be a corruption 
of the Chinese swan-pan, T and others 
to have been derived from the word 
soroiban, meaning an orderly arranged 
table. 2 

The soroban is an improvement upon 
the swan-pan, as will be seen by the illustration. Instead of 

1 KNOTT, loc. cit., p. 45. 

2 OYAMADA, Matsunoya Hikki. 

?2 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

having two 5-balls it has only one, and it replaces the balls 
by buttons having a sharp edge that the finger easily engages 
without slipping. In the illustration (Fig. n) the number 90278 
is represented in the center of the soroban. 

The invention of the soroban, or rather the importation and 
the improvement of the swan-pan, is usually assigned to the 
close of the sixteenth century, although we shall show that 
this is probably too late a date. In the Sampo Tamatebako, 
by Fukuda Riken, published in 1879, an account is given of 
the journey of one Mori Kambei Shigeyoshi, a scholar of the 
sixteenth century, to China. Mori was in his early days in 
the service of Lord Ikeda Terumasa, and was afterwards a 
retainer of the great hero Toyotomi Hideyoshi, better known 
as Taiko, who in the turbulent days of the close of the Ashi- 
kaga Shogunate 1 subdued the entire country, compelling peace 
by force of arms. The story goes that Taiko, wishing to 
make his court a center of learning, sent Mori to China to 
acquire the mathematical knowledge that was wholly wanting 
in Japan at that period. Mori, however, was a man of humble 
station, and his requests on behalf of his master were treated 
with such contempt that he returned to his native land with 
little to show for his efforts. Upon relating his trials and 
humiliation to Taiko, the latter bestowed upon him the title of 
Dewa no Kami, or Lord of Dewa. Again Mori set out for 
China, but again he was destined to meet with some dissap- 
pointment, for hardly had he set foot on Chinese soil than 
Taiko began his invasion of Korea. China at once became 
involved in the defence of what was practically a vassal state, 
and as the war progressed it became more and more a matter 
of danger for a Japanese to reside within her borders. Mori 
was not received with the favor that he had hoped for, and 
in due time returned to his native land. Although he had spent 
some time abroad, he had not accomplished his entire purpose. 
Nevertheless he brought back with him a considerable knowledge 

1 This just preceded the Tokugawa shognnate, which lasted from 1603 
to 1868. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 33 

of Chinese mathematics, and also the swan -pan, which was 
forthwith developed into the present soroban. If the story is 
true, Mori must have spent some years in China, for Taiko 
began his invasion in 1592 and died in 1598, and he was 
already dead when Mori returned. Mori repaired to the Castle 
of Osaka which Taiko had built and where he had lived, and 
there he was hospitably received by the son and successor 
of the great warrior. There he lived and wrote until the 
city was besieged in 1615, and the castle taken by Japan's 
greatest hero, Tokugawa lyeyasu, founder of the Tokugawa 
shogunate, whose tomb at Nikko is a Mecca for all tourists 
to that delightful region. We are told by Araki, 1 who lived 
at the beginning of the eighteenth century, that Mori thence- 
forth taught the soroban arithmetic in Kyoto. 

Although this story of Mori's visit to China and of his intro- 
duction of the soroban is a recent one, it has been credited 
by some of the best writers in Japan. 2 Nevertheless there is 
a good deal of uncertainty about his journey,3 and still more 
about his having been the one to introduce the soroban into 
Japan. Fukuda Riken who, as we have said, first published 
the story in 1879, gives no sources for his information. He 
received his information largely from his friend C. Kawakita, 
who tells the writers that it was Uchida Gokan who started 
the story of Mori's first Chinese journey, claiming that he had 
read it once upon a time in a certain old manuscript that 
was in the library of Yushima, in Yedo. Unfortunately on 
the dissolution of the shogunate, at the time of the rise of 

1 In the Araki Son-yei Chadan, or Stories told by Araki (Hikoshiro) Son- 
yei (16401718). 

2 ENDO, Book I, p. 45 46, 5456; HAYASHI, History, p. 30, and his bio- 
graphical sketch of Seki Kowa in the Honcho Siigaku Koenshii (Lectures on 
the Mathematics of Japan), 1908, pp. 8 to. 

3 For example, ALFRED WESTPHAL claims that it was Korea rather than 
China that Mori visited. See his Beitrag zur Geschichte der Mathematik, in 
the Mittheilungen der deutschen Gesellschaft fur Natur- iind Volkerkunde Osl- 
asiens in Tokyo, IX. Heft, 1876. The Chinese journey is looked upon as fic- 
tion by the learned C. Kawakita, who has studied very carefully the bio- 
graphies of the Japanese mathematicians. 


34 HI. The Development of the Soroban. 

the modern Empire, the books of this library were dispersed 
and the manuscript in question seems to have been irretrievably 
lost. That Uchida claims to have seen it we have been per- 
sonally informed both by Mr. Kawakita and by Mr. N. Oka- 
moto, to whom he told the circumstance. Nevertheless as 
historical evidence all this is practically worthless. Uchida was 
a learned man, but his reputation was not above reproach. 
He never told the story until the manuscript had disappeared, 
and no one has the slightest idea of the age, the character, 
or the reliability of the document. Moreover the older writers 
make no mention of this Chinese journey, as witness the Araki 
Son-yei Chadan which was written only a century after Mori 
lived and which gives a sketch of his life and a brief state- 
ment concerning the early Japanese mathematics. In Murai's 
Sampo Doshi-mon, * written nearly a century later still, no men- 
tion is made of the matter. Indeed, it is not until after the 
story was started by Uchida that we ever hear of it. 2 

But whether or not Mori went to China, he did much for 
mathematics and he was an expert in the manipulation of 
the soroban. He was also possessed of a well-known Chinese 
treatise on the swan-pan, written by Ch'eng Tai-wei 3 and 
published in I593, 4 a work that greatly influenced Japanese 
mathematics even long after Mori's death. Mori himself publish- 
ed a work on arithmetic in two books entitled Kijo Ranjd 5 , 
and he left a manuscript on mathematics written in 1628. 6 
Both have been lost, however, and of the contents of neither 

1 Book I, chapter on the Origin of Arithmetic, published in 1781. 

* The oldest manuscript that we have found that speaks of it is SHIRAISHI'S 
Siika Jimmei-Shi, but since the author was a contemporary of Uchida he 
probably simply related the latter's story. 

3 Erroneously given in ENDO as Ju Szu-pu. Book I, p. 45. 

4 The Suan-fa Tung-tsong. 

5 The Kijoho method of division on the soroban, described later. See 
MURAI, Sampo Doshi-mon, 1781, Book I; and ENDO, Book I, p. 45. 

6 This fact is recorded in an anonymous manuscript entitled Sanwa Zni- 
hitsu, which relates that the original manuscript, signed and sealed by Mori 
himself, was in the possession of a mathematician named Kubodera early in 
the nineteenth century. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 35 

have we any knowledge. Mori seems to have made a livelihood 
after the fall of Osaka by teaching arithmetic in Kyoto, where 
hundreds of pupils flocked to learn of him and study with the 
man who proclaimed himself "The first instructor in division 
in the world." He is said to have spent his last years at Yedo, 
the modern Tokyo. Three of his pupils, 1 Yoshida Koyu, Ima- 
mura Chisho, and Takahara Kisshu, known to their contempo- 
raries as "The three Arithmeticians," 2 did much to revive the 
study of the science in what we have designated as the third 
period of Japanese mathematics, and of them we shall speak 
more at length in a later chapter. 

There are various reasons for believing that the swan-pan 
was not first brought to Japan by Mori. In the first place, 
such simple devices of the merchant class usually find their 
way through the needs of trade rather than through the efforts 
of the scholar. It was so with the Hindu- Arabic numerals in 
the West, 3 and it was probably so with the swan- pan in the 
East. There is a tradition that another Mori, 4 Mori Misaburo, 
an inhabitant of Yamada in the province of Ise, owned a swan- 
pan in the Bun-an Era, i. e., in 1444-1449. This instrument 
is still preserved and is now in the possession of the Kita- 
batake family, s It is also related that the great general and 
statesman Hosokawa Yusai, in the time of Taiko, owned a 
small ivory soroban, but of course this may have come from 
his contemporary Mori Kambei. It is, however, reasonable to 
believe that, with the prosperous intercourse between China 
and Japan during the Ashikaga Shogunate, from the fourteenth to 
the end of the sixteenth centuries the swan-pan could not have 
failed to become known to the Japanese merchants, even if it 
was not extensively used by them. On the other hand, Mori 
Kambei was the first great teacher of the art of manipulating it, 

1 See ENDO, Book I, p. 55, and the Araki Son-yei Chadan. 

2 Also as the San-shi, or "three honorable scholars." 

3 See SMITH and KARPINSKI, be. df. t p. 114. 

4 Not Mori, however. 

5 It was exhibited not long ago in Tokyo. We are indebted for this in- 
formation to Mr. N. OKAMOTO. 


III. The Development of the Soroban. 

so that much credit is due to him for its general adoption. We 
may, therefore, fix upon about the year 1600 as the beginning 

of the use of the soroban, and the 
century from 1600 to 1700 as the 
period in which it replaced the ancient 
bamboo rods. 

It is proper in this connection to 
give a brief description of the soroban 
and of the method of operating with 
it, particularly with a view to the needs 
of the Western reader. As already 
stated, the value of the ball above 
the beam is five, one being the value 
of each ball below the beam. In 
Fig. 12 the right-hand column has 
been used to represent units, the next 
one tens, and so on. In the picture 
these columns have been numbered 
by arranging the balls so that the 
units are I, the tens 2, the hundreds 
3, and so on. As a result, the number 
represented isr98765432i. 1 

To add two numbers we have only 
to set down the first as in the illu- 
stration and then set down the second 
upon it. Thus to add 2 and 2, we 
put 2 balls at the top of the colunn 
and then 2 more, making 4. To add 
2 and 3, we put 2 balls at the top, 
and then add 3 ; but since this makes 
5 we push back the 5 balls and move 
down the one above the beam. To 
add 4 and 3, we take 4 balls; then 
we add the 3 by first adding r, moving 
down the one above the beam to replace the 5, and then 

1 The best description of this instrument, in English, is that given by 
KNOTT, he. dt., p. 45. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 37 

adding 2 more, leaving the five-ball and 2 unit balls. To add 7 
and 6, we set down the 7 by moving the five-ball and 2 unit 
balls; we then move 3 more balls, which give us 10, and we 
indicate this by moving i ball in tens' column, clearing the 
units' column at the same time, and then we add 3 more, 
making i ten and 3 units. It will be seen that as fast as 
any number is set down it is thereby added to the preceding 
sum, thus making the work very rapid in the hands of a skilled 
operator. Subtraction is evidently performed with equal ease. 
For multiplying readily on the soroban it is necessary to 
learn the multiplication table. In this table the Japanese have 
two points of advantage over the Western peoples: (i) they 
do not use the words "times" or "equals", thus saving con- 
siderably in time and energy whenever they employ it; (2) they 
learn their products only one way, as 6 7's but not 7 6's. Thus 
their table for 6 is as follows : z 

Japanese names In our figures 

ichi roku roku 2 166 

ni roku ju ni 2 6 12 

san roku 3 ju hachi 3 6 18 

shi roku ni ju shi 4 6 24 

go roku san ju 5 6 30 

roku roku san ju roku 6 6 36 

roku shichi shi ju ni 67 42 

roku hachi* shi ju hachi 6 8 48 

roku kus go ju shi 6 9 54 

This table reminds us of the one in common use by the 
Italian merchants from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, 
and which was probably quite universal in the mercantile houses. 

For purposes of historic interest we take to illustrate the 
process of multiplication an example from the Jinko-ki of 

1 KNOTT, loc. at., p. 50. 

2 This is usually stated as "in roku ga roku" the ithi being corrupted to in 
and the ga inserted for euphony. 

3 Corrupted to sabu roku. 

4 The hachi is abbreviated to ha in this case, for euphony. 

5 Roku ku may here be abbreviated to rokku. 


38 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

Yoshida, published in 1627, and described more fully in 
Chapter V. To multiply 625 by 16 the multiplier is placed 
to the left of the multiplicand on the soroban, a plan that is 
exactly opposite to the Chinese arrangement as set forth in the 
Suan-fa Tung-tsong of 1593. It represents one of the im- 

Fig. 13. 16 625. 

provements of Mori or of Yoshida, and has always been 
followed in Japan. 

We first take the partial product 5 x 6 = 30, and place the 
30 just to the right of the 625, 1 so that the soroban reads 

16 62530 

Fig. 14. 16 62530. 

We now take 5x1 = 5, and add this 5 to the 3, making 
the product 80 thus far. The 5 of the 625 now having been 

1 In general, the units' figure of this product is placed as many columns 
to the right as there are figures in the multiplier. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 39 

multiplied by 16, it is removed, so that the figures stand as 
follows: 16 62080 

Fig. 15. 16 62080. 

The next step is the multiplication of 2 by 16, and this is 
done precisely as the 5 was multiplied. Expressed in figures 
the operation on the soroban is as follows: 

1 6 62080 
2x6= 12 

2x1= 2^ 

Cancel 2 16 60400 

the 2 in 62080 being removed because the multiplication of 
2 by 1 6 has been effected. 

Fig. 1 6. 1 6 60400. 

The next step is the multiplication of 6 by 16, and the work 
appears on the soroban as follows: 

1 6 60400 
6x6= 36 

1x6= 6 

16 loooo 

40 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

The result is therefore 10000. 

Fig. 17. 16 i oooo. 

The process of division is much more complicated, and re- 
quires the perfect memorizing of a table technically known as 
the Ku ki ho, or "Nine Returning Method." It is given here 
only for 2, 6, and 7.* 

Ni ichi ten saku no go 21 replace by 5 
Nitchin in ju 2 22 gives I ten 

Ni shi shin ga ni ju 2 4 gives 2 tens 

Ni roku shin ga san ju 26 gives 3 tens 
Ni hachi shin ga shi ju 2 8 gives 4 tens 

Table for 6. 

Roku ichi kakka no shi 6 i 14 

Roku ni san ju no ni 62 32 

Roku san ten saku no go 6 3 50 
Roku shi roku ju no shi 64 64 
Roku go hachi ju no ni 65 82 

Roku chin in ju 6 6 gives i ten 

Table for 7. 

Shichi ichi kakka no san 7 i 13 
Shichi ni kakka no roku 7 2 26 

Shichi san shi ju no ni 73 42 

Shichi shi go ju no go 7 4 55 

Shichi go shichi ju no ichi 7 5 71 
Shichi roku hachi ju no shi 7 6 84 
Shichi chin in ju 7 7 gives I ten 

1 KNOTT, loc. tit., as corrected by Mr. MIKAMI. 

2 This and some others are given in the usual abridged form. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 41 

The table is not so unintelligible as it seems to a stranger, 
and in fact its use has certain advantages over Western me- 
thods. In the first place it is not encumbered with such words 
as "divided by" or "contained in," and in the second place it 
is not carried beyond the point where the dividend number as 
expressed in the table equals the divisor. It is in fact merely 
a table of quotients and remainders. Consider, for example, 
the table for 7. This states that 

10:7= I, and 3 remainder 

20 : 7 = 2, and 6 remainder 

30 : 7 = 4, and 2 remainder 

40 : 7 = 5, and 5 remainder 

50 : 7 = 7, and I remainder 

60 : 7 = 8, and 4 remainder 

70 : 7 = 10 

Taking again an example from the classical work of Yoshida, 
let us divide 1234 by 8. These numbers will be represented 
on the soroban in the usual way, and placed as follows: 

8 1234 

The table now gives "8 I 12", meaning that IO:8 I, with 
a remainder 2. We therefore leave the I untouched and add 
2 to the next figure, the numbers then appearing as follows: 

8 1434 

where the i represents the first figure in the quotient, and 434 
represents the next dividend. 

The table now tells us "8 4 50", meaning that 40 : 8 = 5, 
with no remainder. We therefore remove the first 4 and put 
5 in its place, the soroban now indicating 

8 1534 

where 15 represents the first two figures in the quotient, and 
34 represents the next dividend. 

The table now tells us "83 36", meaning that 30 : 8 = 3, 
with a remainder 6. This means that the next figure of the 
quotient is 3, and that we have 6 + 4 still to divide. The soroban 
is therefore arranged to indicate 

8 153 (10) 

42 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

But 10 : 8 = I, with a remainder 2, so the soroban is arranged 
to indicate 8 1542 

meaning that the quotient is 1 54 and the remainder is 2. We 
may now consider the result is 154 1/4, or we may continue 
the process and obtain a decimal fraction. 

If the divisor has two or more figures it is convenient to 
have the following table in addition to the one already given: 
i with i, make it 91 



,, 9 2 








5, ,, 


6 , 


, 96 










This means that 10 : I =9 and I remainder, 20 : 2 = 9 and 
2 remainder, and so on. 

We shall sketch briefly the process of dividing 289899 by 
486 as given by Yoshida. Arrange the soroban to indicate 

486 289899. 

The table gives "4 2 50", so we change the 2 to 5 and 
arrange the soroban to indicate the following: 

486 589899 
5x8= 40 

5x6= 30_ 

486 546899 

Here 5 is the first figure of the quotient and 46899 is the 
remainder to be divided. Looking now at the last table we 
find "4 4 94", so we change the 4 to 9 and add 4 to the 
following digit. The soroban is arranged to indicate the following: 

486 546899 

Then 486 596899 

Add 4 4 

Then 9x8= 72 

9x6= 54 

Subtract 72 and 54 486 593159 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 


Here 59 is the first part of the quotient and 3159 is the 
remainder to be divided. 

Proceeding in the same way, the next figure in the quotient 
is 6, and the soroban indicates 

486 596759 
486 596243 
486 5965 
and the quotient is 596.5. 

Fig. 1 8. From the work of Fujiwara Norikaze, 1825. 

This method of division is that given in the Jinko-ki, but in 
1645 another plan was suggested by a well-known teacher, 
Momokawa Chubei. x This was the Slid j oho, or method of di- 
vision by the aid of the ordinary multiplication table, as in 
wiitten arithmetic. Momokawa sets it forth in a work entitled 

1 ENDO gives his personal name as Jihei, but this is open to doubt. 


III. The Development of the Soroban. 

Kamei-zan (1645), and thenceforth the method itself bore this 
name. This plan, like the Jinkoki, is fundamentally a Chinese 


^^^ >N.^-C A ^ - >X ^ >X ^ >Xg7J^ 

? ^ 


Fig. 19. From an anonymous Kwaisanki of the seventeenth century. 

method, as it appears in the Suan fa T'ung-tsong of 1593, but 
it has never been so popular in Japan as the one given by 
Yoshida in the Jinkoki. 

III. The Development of the Soroban. 


It is hardly worth while to consider the method of extracting 
roots by the help of the soroban, since the general theory does 
not differ from the one used in the West, and the subsidiary 
operations have been sufficiently explained. 

Although the soroban began to replace the bamboo rods 
soon after 1600, it took more than a century for the latter to 
disappear as means for computation, and, as we shall see, they 
continued to be used for about two hundred years longer in 
connection with algebraic work. In Isomura Kittoku's Sampo 
Ketsugi-sho of 1660 (second edition 1684), and Sawaguchi's 
Kokon Sampo-ki of 1670, for example, we find both the rods 

Fig. 20. From Miyake Kenryu's work of 1795- 

and the soroban explained, and in another work of 1693 only 
the rods are given. The Tengen Shinan, by Sato Shigeharu, 
printed in 1698, also gives only the rods, as does the Kwatsuyo 
Sampo (Method of Mathematics) which Araki Hikoshiro Son- 
yei, being old, caused his pupil Otaka Yoshimasa to prepare 
in 1709.* In Murata Tsushin's Wakan Sampo, published in 
1743, both systems are used, and in a primary arithmetic 
printed in 1781 only the rods are employed, so that we see 
that it was a long time before the soroban completely replaced 
the more ancient method of computation. In general we may 
say that all algebras used the sangi in connection with the 
"celestial element" method of solving equations, explained in 
the next chapter, while little by little the soroban replaced them 

1 It was printed in 1712. 

46 III. The Development of the Soroban. 

for arithmetical work. The pictures of children learning to use 
the soroban are often interesting, as in the one from the arith- 
metic of Fujiwara Norikaze, of 1825 (Fig. 18). The early 
pictures of the use of the instrument in mercantile affairs are 
also curious, as in Fig. 19, taken from an anonymous work of 
the seventeenth century. An illustration of a pupil learning 
the use of the soroban, from Miyake Kenryu's work of 1795* 
is shown in Fig. 20. 

1 The first edition was 1716. 

The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

As stated in the preceding chapter, it seems necessary to 
break the continuity of the historical narative by speaking of 
the introduction of the soroban and the sangi, since these 
mechanical devices must be known, at least in a general way, 
before the contributions of the later writers can be understood. 
As already explained, the chiknsaku or "bamboo rods" had 
been brought over from China at any rate as early as 600 A. D., 
and for a thousand years had held sway in the domain of 
calculation. They had formed one of the inheritances of the 
people, and the fact that they are still used in Korea shows 
how strong their hold would naturally have been with a patriotic 
race like the Japanese. We have much the same experience 
in the Western World in connection with the metric system 
today. No one doubts for a moment that this system will in 
due time be commonly used in England and America, the race 
for world commerce deciding the issue even if the merits of 
the system should fail to do so. Nevertheless such a change 
comes only by degrees in democratic lands, and while our 
complicated system of compound numbers is rapidly giving 
way, the metric system is not so rapidly replacing it. 

So it was in Japan in the i/th century. The samurai despised 
the plebeian soroban, and the guild of learning sympathized with 
this attitude of mind. The result was that while the soroban 
replaced the rods for business purposes, the latter maintained 
their supremacy in the calculations of higher mathematics. 

There was a further reason for this attitude of mind in the fact 
that the rods were already in use in the solution of the equation, 

48 IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

having been well known for this purpose ever since Ch'in Chiu- 
shao(i247), Li Yeh (1248 and 1257), and Chu Chi-chieh (1299)** 
had described them in their works. 

As stated in Chapter III, the early bamboo rods tended to 
roll off the table or out of the group in which they were 
placed. On this account the Koreans use a trian'guloid prism 
as shown in the illustration on page 22, and the Japanese in 
due time resorted to square prisms about 7 mm. thick and 
5 cm. long. These pieces had the name sanc/m, or, more 
commonly, sangi, and part of each set was colored red and 
part black, the former representing positive mumbers and the 
latter negative. A set of these pieces, now a rarity even in 
Japan, is shown on page 23. 

This distinction between positive and negative is very old. 
In Chinese, cheng was the positive and fu the negative, and 
the same ideographs are employed in Japan today, only one of 
the terms having changed, sei being used for cheng. These 
Chinese terms are found in the Chiu-chang Suan-shu as revised 
by Chang T'sang in the 2nd century B. C, 2 and hence are 
probably much more ancient even than the latter date. The 
use of the red and black for positive and negative is found in 
Liu Hui's commentary on the Chiu-chang, written in 263 A. D., 3 
but there is no reason for believing that it originated with him. 
It is probably one of the early mathematical inheritances of 
the Chinese the origin of which will never be known. As 
applied to the solution of the equation, however, we have no 
description of their use before the work of Ch'in Chiu-shao in 
1247. In the treatises of Li Yeh and Chu Chi-chieh 4 there is 
given a method known as the fien-yuen-shu, or tengen jutsu 

1 Chu Shi-chieh, or Choo Shi-ki. Takebe's commentary (1690) upon his 
work of 1299 is mentioned in Chapter VII. He also wrote in 1303 a work 
entitled Sze-yuen yuh-kien, "Precious mirror of the four elements," but this is 
not known to have reached Japan. 

2 See No. 8 of the list described in Chap. II, p. II. 

3 See p. ii. 

4 His work was known as Suan-hsiao Chi-meng, or Sivan-hsiich-chi-mong. 
It was lost to the Chinese for a long time, but Lo Shih-lin discovered a 
Korean edition of 1660 and reprinted it in 1839. 

IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 49 

as it has come into the Japanese, a term meaning "The method 
of the celestial element." 

These three writers appeared in widely separated parts of 
China, under the contending monarchies of Song and Yuan, 
at practically the same time, in the I3th century. 1 The first, 
Ch'in Chiu-shao, 2 introduced the Monad as the symbol for the 
unknown quantity, and solved certain equations of the 6th, 
7th, 8th, and even higher degrees. The ancient favorite of 
the West, the problem of the couriers, is among his exercises. 
He states that he was from a province at that time held by 
the Yuan people (the Mongols). 

The second of this trio, Li Yeh, 3 wrote "The mirror of the 
mensuration of circles" in which algebra is applied to trigono- 
metry.* The third of the group is Chu Chi-chieh, to whose 
work we have just referred. That other writers of prominence 
had treated of algebra before this time is evident from a pas- 
sage in the preface of Chu Chi-chieh's work. In this he refers 
to Chiang Chou Li Wend, Shih Hsing-Dao, and Liu Ju-Hsieh 
as having written on equations with one unknown quantity; to 
Li Te Tsi, who used equations with two unknowns, and to Liu 
Ta Chien, who used three unknowns. Chu Chi-chieh 5 seems to 
have been the first Chinese writer to treat of systems of linear 
equations with four unknowns, after the old "Nine Sections." 

1 WYLIE, A., Chinese Researches, Shanghai, 1897, Part III, p. 175; MIKAMI, Y., 
A Remark on the Chinese Mathematics in Cantor's Geschichte der Mathematik t 
Archiv der Math, und Physik, vol. XV (3), Heft I. 

2 Tsin Kiu-tschau, Tsin Kew Chaou. His work, entitled Su-shu Chiu- 
chang, or Shu hsiieh Chi^t Chang, appeared in 1247. He also wrote the Shu 
shu ta Lueh (General rules on arithmetic). 

3 Or Li-yay. Li was the family name, and Yeh or Yay the personal 
name, this being the common order. He is also known by his familiar 
name, Jin-king, and also as Li Ching Chai. 

4 His two works are entitled T'se-yitan Hai-ching (1248) and I-ku Yen-tuan 
(1257). The dates are a little uncertain, since Li Yeh states in the preface 
that the second work was printed II years after the first. Tse-yiian means 
"to measure the circle'', and Hai-ching means "mirror of sea". 

5 For a translation of his work I am indebted to Professor Chen of Peking 
University. D. E. S. 


5O IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

In order that we may have a better understanding of the 
basis upon which Japanese algebra was built, a few words are 
necessary upon the state to which the Chinese had brought the 
science by this period. While algebra had been known before 
the 1 3th century, it took a great step forward through the 
labors of the three men whose names have been mentioned. 
They called their method by various names, but the one al- 
ready given, and Lih-tien-yiien-yih, "The setting up of the Ce- 
lestial Monad", are the ones commonly used. 

In general in this new algebra, unity represents the unknown 
quantity, and the successive powers are indicated by the place, 
the sangi being used for the coefficients, thus: 


!==_ + isx* 

TX 7T + 66x 

Li Yeh puts the absolute term on the bottom line as here 
shown, in his work of 1248. In his work of 1259 and in the 
works of Ch'in and Chu it is placed at the top. The symbol 
after 66 was called yilen and indicated the monad, while the 
one after 360 was called tai, a shortened form of tai-kieJi, "the 
extreme limit". In practice they were commonly omitted. The 
circle is the zero in 360, and the cancellation mark indicates 
that the number is negative, a feature introduced by Li Yeh. 
With the sangi, red rods would be used for i, 15, and 66, and 
black ones for 360. It will be noticed that this symbolism is 
in advance of anything that was being used in Europe at this 
time, and that it has some slight resemblance to that used by 
Bhaskara, in India, in the I2th century. 

Ch'in Chiu-shao (1247) gives a method of approximating the 
roots of numerical higher equations which he speaks of as the 
Ling-hmg-kae-fang, "Harmoniously alternating evolution", a plan 
in which, by the manipulation of the sangi, he finds the root 

IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 51 

by what is substantially the method rediscovered by Homer, 
in England, in 1819. Another writer of the same period, 
Yang Hwuy, in his analysis of the Chiu-chang* gives the 
same rule under the name of Tsang-ching-fang, "Accumu- 
lating involution", but he does not illustrate it by solved 
problems. We are therefore compelled to admit that Horner's 
method is a Chinese product of the I3th century, and we 
shall see that the Japanese adopted it in what we have called 
the third period of their mathematical history. 

It is also interesting to know that Chu Chi-chieh in the Sze- 
yiien Yu-kien (1303) gives as an "ancient method" the relation 
of the binomial coefficients known in Europe as the "Pascal 
triangle", 2 and that among his names for the various monads 
(unknowns) is the equivalent for thing.* This is the same as 
the Latin res and the Italian cosa, both of which had un- 
doubtedly come from the East. It is one of the many interest- 
ing problems in the history of mathematics to trace the origin v 
of this term. * 

Chu Chi-chieh writes the equivalent of a + b + c I 

+ x as is here shown, except that we use T for i T I 
the symbol tai, and the modern numerals instead I 

of the sangi forms. The square of this expression he writes 



2 O 2 


i o T o i 


2 O 2 

a method that is quickly learned and easily employed. 

* See p. ir. 

2 This was also known in Europe long before Pascal. See SMITH, D. E., 
Kara Arithmetica, Boston, 1909, p. 156. 

3 He uses the names heaven, earth, man, thing, although the first three 
usually designated known quantities. 

4 The resemblance to the Egyptian ahe, mass (or hait, heap), of the 
Ahmes papyrus, c. 1700 B. C, will possibly occur to the reader. 


52 IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

The "celestial element" process as given by Chu Chi-chieh 
in 1299 found its way into Japan at least as early as the 
middle of the i/th century, and the Suan-Jisiao Chi-meng was 
reprinted there no less than three times. 1 The single rule laid 
down in this classical work for the use of the sangi in the 
solution of numerical equations contains but little positive infor- 
mation. Retaining the Japanese terms, and translating quite 
literally, we may state it as follows: 

"Arrange the seki in the jitsu class, adjusting the ho, ren, 
and gu classes. Then add the like-signed and subtract the 
unlike-signed, and evolve the root." 

This reminds one of the cryptic rules of the Middle Ages 
and early Renaissance in Europe, but unlike some of these it 
is at least not an anagram to which there is no key. The 
seki is the quantity in a problem that must be expressed in 
the absolute term before solving, and which is represented by 
the sangi in next to the top row, the jitsu class. The coeffi- 
cients of the first, second, and third powers of the unknown 
are then represented by the sangi in the successive rows below, 
in the ho, ren, and gu classes. The rest of the rule amounts 
to saying that the pupil should proceed as he has been taught. 
The method is best understood by actually solving a numerical 
higher equation, but inasmuch as the manipulation of the sangi 
has already been explained in the preceding chapter, the coeffi- 
cients will now be represented by modern numerals. The 
problem which we shall use is taken from the eighth book of 
the Tengen Shinan of Sato Moshun or Shigeharu, published in 
1698, and only the general directions will be given, as was the 
custom. The reader may compare the work with the common 
Horner method in which the reasoning involved is more clear. 

Let it be required to solve the equation 

II 520 432* 236^ + 4*3 + #4 = 

1 For the first time in 1658. Dowun, a Buddhist priest, with the possible 
nom de plume of Baisho, mentions one Hisada (or Kuda) Gentetsu (probably 
also a priest) as the editor. It was also printed in 1672 by Hoshino Jitsusen, 
and some time later by Takebe KenkO. 

IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 53 

Arrange the sangi on the board to indicate the following: 
















Here the top line, marked (r), is reserved for the root, and 
the lines marked (o), (i), (2), (3), (4) are filled with the sangi 
representing the coefficients of the oth, 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th 
powers of the unknown quantity. With the sangi, the negative 
432 and 236 would be in black, while the positive 1 1 520, 4, 
and i would be in red. 

First advance the ist, 2d, 3d, and 4th degree classes i, 2, 
3, 4 places respectively, thus: 
















The root will have two figures and the tens' figure is i. 
Multiply this 10 by the i of class (4) and add it to class (3), 
thus making 14 in class (3). Multiply this 14 by the root, 10, 
and add it to 236 of class (2), thus making 96 in class (2). 
Multiply this 96 by the root, 10, and add it to 432 of class 


IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

(i), thus making 1392 in class (i). Multiply this 1392 by 
the root, 10, and add it to 11520 of class (o), thus making 
2400. The result then appears as follows: 







- I 









Now repeat the process, multiplying the root, 10, into class (4) 
and adding to class (3), making 24; multiply 24 by the root 
and add to class (2), making 144; multiply 144 by the root 
and add to class (i), making 48. The result then appears as 














Repeat the process, multiplying the root, 10, into class (4) 
and adding to class (3), making 34; multiply 34 by the root 
and add to class (2) making 484. 

Again repeat the process, multiplying the root into class (4) 
and adding to class (3), making 44. 

Now move the sangi representing the coefficients of classes 

IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 


(0, ( 2 X (3)> (4), to the right I, 2, 3, 4, places, respectively, and 
we have: 














The second figure of the root is 2. * Multiply this into class 
(4) and add to class (3), making 46. Multiply the same root 
figure, 2, into this class (3) and add to class (2), making 576. 
Multiply this 576 by 2 and add to class (I), making 1200. 
Multiply this 1200 by 2 and add to class (o), making o. The 
work now appears as follows: 















The root therefore is 12. 

It may now be helpful to give a synoptic arrangement of 
the entire process in order that this Chinese method of the 
1 3th century, practiced in Japan in the I7th century, may be 

1 It is not stated how either figure is ascertained. 

56 IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

compared with Horner's method. The work as described is 
substantially as follows: 

Given x* + 4** 2^6x 2 432^ + 1 1 520 = o 
i+ 4 236-- 432+11520 
10 140 960 13920 












4 8- 






4 8 






I 46 576 

Chu Chi-chieh also gives, in the Suan-hsiao Chi-ineng^ rules 
for the treatment of negative numbers. The following transla- 
tions are as literal as the circumstances allow: 

"When the same-named diminish each other, the different- 
named should be added together. 1 If then there is no opponent 
for a positive term, make it negative; and for a negative, make 
it positive." 2 

"When the different-named diminish each other the same- 
named should be added together. If then there is no opponent 
for a positive, make it positive; and for a negative, make it 
negative." 3 

"When the same-named are multiplied together, the product 
is made positive. When the different-named are multiplied 
together, the product is made negative." 

The method of the "celestial element", with the sangi, and 
with the rules just stated, entered into the Japanese mathe- 

1 This is intended to mean that when (+ 4) (+ 3)= + (4 3\ then 
(+ 4) - ( 3) should be + 4 + 3- 

2 That is, o (-f- 4) = 4, and o ( 4) = -f- 4. 

3 When (+ p) - ( q) = + p + q, then ( p) - (-f- q) = - (p + q> Also, 

= + 4 and o+( 4)= 4. 

IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 


matics of the iyth century, to be described in the following 
chapter. They were purely Chinese in origin, but Japan ad- 
vanced the method, carrying it to a high degree of perfection 
at the time when China was abandoning her native mathe- 
matics under the influence of the Jesuits. It is, therefore, in 
Japan rather than China that we must look in the iyth cen- 
tury for the strictly oriental development of calculation, of al- 
gebra, and of geometry. 

Among the other writers of the period several treated of 
magic squares. Among these was Hoshino Sanenobu, whose 
Ko-ko'gen Sho (Triangular Extract) appeared in 1673. Half of 
one of his magic squares in shown in the following facsimile : 























I A 


Fig. 21. Half of a magic square, from Hoshino Sanenobu's work of 1673. 

One who is not of the Japanese race cannot refrain from mar- 
velling at the ingenuity of many of these problems proposed 
during the i/th century, and at the painstaking efforts put 
forth in their solution. He is reminded of the intricate ivory 

58 IV. The Sangi applied to Algebra. 

carvings of these ingenious and patient people, of the curious 
puzzles with which they delight the world, and of the finish 
which characterizes their artistic productions. Few of these 
problems could be mistaken for western productions, and the 
solutions, so far as they are given, are like the art and the 
literature of the people, indigenous to the soil of Japan. 

The Third Period. 

It was stated in the opening chapter that the third of the 
periods into which we arbitrarily divide the history of Japanese 
mathematics was less than a century in duration, extending 
from about 1600 to about 1675. The first of these dates is 
selected as marking approximately the beginning of the activity 
of Mori Kambei Shigeyoshi, who was mentioned in Chapter III, 
and the last as marking that of Seki. It was an era of 
intellectual awakening in Japan, of the welcoming of Chinese 
ideas, and of the encouragement of native effort. Of the work 
of Mori we have already spoken, because he had so much to 
do with making known, and possibly improving, the soroban. 
It now remains to speak of his pupils, and first of Yoshida. 

Yoshida Shichibei Koyu, or Mitsuyoshi, was born at Saga, 
near Kyoto, in 1 598, as we are told in Kawakita's manuscript, 
the Honchd Siigakii Sliiryo. He belonged to an ancient family 
that had contributed not a few illustrious names to the history 
of the country. Yoshida Sokei, for example, who died in 1572, 
was well known in medicine, and had twice made a journey to 
China in search of information, once with a Buddhist bonze 1 
in 1539, and again in 1547. His son Koko, (1554 1616), was 
a noted engineer, and is known for his work in improving 
navigation on the Fujikawa and other rivers that had been 
too dangerous for the passage of boats. Koko's son Soan 
was, like his father, well known for his learning and for his 
engineering skill. 2 Yoshida Koyu, the mathematician, was a 

* Priest. The name is a Portuguese corruption of a Japanese term. 
2 See the Sentetsu Sodan Zoku-hen, 1884, Book I. 

6O V. The Third Period. 

grandson, on his mother's side, of Yoshida Koko. 1 He was 
also related in another way to the Yoshida family, being the 
eldest son of Yoshida Shuan, who was the great-grandson of 
Sokei's father, Sochu. 

Yoshida, as we shall now call him, early manifested a taste 
for mathematics, going as a youth to Kyoto that he might 
study under the renowned Mori. His ignorance of Chinese was 
a serious handicap, however, and his progress was a disap- 
pointment. He thereupon set to work to learn the language, 
studying under the guidance of his relative Yoshida Soan, and 
in due time became so proficient that he was able to read the 
Suan-fa Tung-tsong of Ch'eng Tai-wei. 2 His progress in 
mathematics then became so rapid that it is related 3 that he 
soon distanced his master, so that Mori himself was glad to 
become his pupil. Yoshida also continued to excel in Chinese, 
so that, whereas Mori knew the language only indifferently, 
his quondam pupil became master of the entire mathematical 

Mori's works were the earliest native Japanese books on 
mathematics of which we have any record, but they seem to 
be irretrievably lost. It is therefore to Yoshida that we look 
as the author of the oldest Japanese work on mathematics 
extant. This work was written in 1627 and is entitled Jinko- 
ki. The name is interesting, the Chinese ideogram jin meaning 
(among other things) a small number, ko meaning a large 
number, and ki a treatise, so that the title signifies a treatise 
on numbers from the greatest to the least. Yoshida tells us 
in the preface that it was selected for him by one Genko, a 
Buddhist priest, and it is typical of the condensed expressions 
of the Japanese. 

The work relates chiefly to the arithmetical operations as 
performed on the soroban, including square and cube root, but 
it also has some interesting applications and it gives 3.16 for 

1 ENDO, Book I, p. 35. 

2 Which had appeared in 1593. See p. 34. 

3 By KAWAKITA in the Honcho Sugaku Shiryo. 

V r . The Third Period. 6 1 

the value of TT. It is based largely upon the Suan-fa T'ung- 
tsong already described, and the preface states that it originally 
consisted of eighteen books. Only three books have come 
down to us, however, and indeed we are assured that only 
three were ever printed. : This was the first treatise on mathe- 
matics ever printed in Japan, or at least the first of any im- 
portance. * It appeared in 16273 and was immediately received 
with great enthusiasm. Even during Yoshida's life a number 
of editions appeared, 4 and the name Jinko-ki was used so 
often after his death, by other authors, that it became a syno- 
nym for arithmetic, as algorismus did in Europe in the late 
Middle Ages.s Indeed it is hardly too much to compare the 
celebrity of the Jinko-ki in Japan with that of the arithmetic 
of Nicomachus in the late Greek civilization. Yoshida also 
wrote on the calendar, but these works 6 were not so well 

So great was the fame of Yoshida that he was called to 
the court of Hosokawa, the feudal lord of Higo, that he might 
instruct his patron in the art of numbers Here he resided for 
a time, and at his lord's death, in 1641, he returned to his 
native place and gathered about him a large number of pupils, 
even as Mori had done before him. In his declining years an 
affection of the eyes, which had troubled him from his youth, 
became more serious, and finally resulted in the affliction of 

1 By the bonze GenkO who wrote the preface, and by Yoshida himself 
at the end of the 1634 edition. 

2 Mr. ENDO has shown the authors the copy of the edition of 1634 in 
the library of the Tokyo" Academy and has assured us that the edition 
of 1627 was the first Japanese mathematical work of any importance. There 
is a tradition that MORI'S Kijo Ranjo was also printed. 

3 That is, the 4th year of Kwan-ei. 

4 As in 1634, 1641, and 1669, all edited by Yoshida. There were several 
pirated editions. See MURAMATSU'S Sanso of 1663, Book III; ENDO, Book I, 
PP- 58, 59, 84 etc. 

5 Compare the German expression "Nach Adam Riese", the English "Accord- 
ing to Cocker", the early American "According to Daboll", and the French 
word Bareme. 

6 For example, the IVakan Go-un and the Koreki Benran. 

62 V. The Third Period. 

total blindness, the fate of Saunderson and of Euler as well. 
He died in 1672 at the age of seventy-four. 1 

The immediate effect of the work of Mori and Yoshida was 
a great awakening of interest in computation and mensuration. 
In 1630 the Shogun established the Kobun-in, a public school 
of arts and sciences. Unfortunately, however, mathematics 
found no place in the curriculum, remaining in the hands of 
private teachers, as in the days of the German Rechenmeister. 
Nevertheless the science progressed in a vigorous manner and 
numerous books were published upon the subject. Yoshida 
had appended to one of the later editions of his Jinko-ki a 
number of problems with the proposal that his successors 
solve them. These provoked a great deal of discussion and 
interest, and led other writers to follow the same plan, thus 
leading to the so-called idai skoto, 2 "mathematical problems 
proposed for solution and solved in subsequent works". This 
scheme was so popular that it continued until 1813, appearing 
for the last time in the Sangaku Kochi of Ishiguro Shin-yu. 

The particular edition of Yoshida's Jinko-ki in which these 
problems appeared is not extant, but the problems are known 
through their treatment by later writers, and some of them 
will be given when we come to speak of the work of Isomura. 

The second of Mori's "three honorable scholars" mentioned 
in Chapter III was Imamura Chisho, and twelve years after the 
appearance of the Jinko-ki, that is in 1639, ne published a 
treatise entitled, Jugai-roku.* Yoshida's work had appeared 
in Japanese, although it followed the Chinese style, but Ima- 
mura wrote in classical Chinese. Beginning with a treatment 
of the soroban, he does not confine himself to arithmetic, as 
Yoshida had done, but proceeds to apply his number work to 
the calculations of areas and volumes, as in the case of the 

1 C. KAWAKITA, Honcho Sugaku Shiryo; ENDO, Book I, p. 84. 

2 A term used by later scholars. 

3 Mr. Endo has shown the authors a copy of Ando's commentary in the 
library of the Academy of Science at Tokyo, and Dr. K. Kano has a copy 
of the original at present in his valuable library. At the end of the work 
the author states that only a hundred copies were printed. 

V. The Third Period. 63 

circle, the sphere, and the cone. While Yoshida had taken 
3. 1 6 for the value of TT, Imamura takes 3. 162. Ando Yuyeki 
of Kyoto refers to this in his Jugai-roku Kana-sho, printed in 
1660, as obtained by extracting the square root of 10. If this 
is true, Yoshida obtained his in the same way, the square root 
of 10 having long been a common value for TT in India and 
Arabia, as well as in China. Liu Hui's commentary on the 
"Nine Sections" asserts that the first Chinese author to use 
this value was Chang Heng, 78 139 A. D. It was also 
used by Ch'en Huo in the eleventh century, and by Ch'in 
Chiu-shao in his Su-shu Chiu-chang of 1247.' Some Chinese 
writers even in the present dynasty have used it, and it was 
very likely brought from that country to Japan. It is of interest 
to note that lumbermen and carpenters in certain parts of 
Japan use this value at the present time. 

Imamura gives as a rule for finding the area of a circle 
that the product of the circumference by the diameter should 
be divided by 4. The volume of the sphere with diameter 
unity is given as 0.51, which does not fit his value of rr as 
closely as might have been expected. He also gives a number 
of problems about the lengths of chords, and writes extensively 
upon \hQKaku-jutsu or "polygonal theory", calculations relating 
to the regular polygons from the triangle to the decagon. This 
theory attracted considerable attention on the part of his suc- 
cessors and added much to Imamura's reputation. 2 This 
treatise was translated into Japanese and a commentary was 
added by Imamura's pupil, Ando Yuyeki, in 1660. 

The year following the appearance of the original edition 
Imamura published the Inki Sanka (1640), a little work on the 
soroban, written in verse. The idea was that in this way the 
rules could the more easily be memorized, an idea as old as 
civilization. The Hindus had followed the same plan many 

1 MIKAMI, Y., On the development of the Chinese mathematics (in Japanese), 
in the Journal of the Tokyo Physics School, No. 203, p. 450; Mathematical papers 

from the Far East, Leipzig, 19 to, p. 5. 

2 ENDO, Book I, pp. 59, 60. 

6 4 

V. The Third Period. 

centuries earlier, and a generation or so before Imamura wrote 
it was being followed by the arithmetic writers of England. 

The third of the San-ski of Mori was Takahara Kisshu, also 
known as Yoshitane. 1 While he contributed nothing in the 
way of a published work, he was a great teacher and numbered 
among his pupils some of the best mathematicians of his time. 

During this period of activity numerous writers of prominence 
appeared, particularly on the soroban and on mensuration. 
Among these writers a few deserve a brief mention at this 
time. Tawara Kamei wrote his Shinkan Sampo-ki in 1652, 





,.. Fig. 22. From Yamada's Kaisan-ki (1656), showing a rude trigonometry. 

and Yenami Washo his Sanryo-roku in the following year. In 
/vC -i656 Yamada Jusei published the Kaisan-ki (Fig. 22) which 
was very widely read, and the title of which was adopted, 
with various prefixes, by several later writers. The following 
year (1657) saw the publication of Hatsusaka's Yempo Shikan- 
ki and Shibamura's Kakuchi Sansho. A year later (1658) 
appeared Nakamura's Shikaku Mondo, followed in 1660 by 
\satauT2iS-Ketsugt-sk0, in 1663 by Muramatsu's Sanso, in 1664 

1 The names are synonyms. 

V. The Third Period. 65 

by Nozavva r lQ\c\\6'sJDdkal-shd, and in 1666 by Sato's Kongenki. 
These are little more than names to Western readers, and yet 
they go to show the activity that was manifest in the field of 
elementary mathematics, largely as the result of the labors of 
Mori and of Yoshida. The works themselves were by no 
means commercial arithmetics, for they perfected little by little 
the subject of mensuration, the method of approximating the 
value of IT, and the treatment of the regular polygons, besides 
offering a considerable insight into the nature of magic squares 
and magic circles. To these books we are indebted for our 
knowledge of the work of this period, and particularly to the 
Kaisan-ki (1656), the Shikaku-Mondo (1658), and the Ketsugi- 
sho, (1660). 

The last mentioned work, the Ketsugi-sho-, was written by 
a pupil of Takahara Kisshu, 1 who was one of the San-ski oi 
Mori. His name was Isomura 2 Kittoku, and he was a native 
of Nihommatsu in the north-eastern part of Japan. Isomura's 
Ketsugi-sJw* appeared in five books in 1660, and was again 
published in 1684 with notes. We know little of his life, but 
he must have been very old when the second edition of his 
work appeared for he tells us in the preface that at that time 
he could hardly hold a soroban or the sangi. 

Two features of the Ketsugi-slio deserve mention, Isomura's 
statement of the Yoshida problems (including an approach to 
integration, as seen in Fig. 23) and similar ones of his own, 
and his treatment of magic squares and circles. Each of these 
throws a flood of light upon the nature of the mathematics of 
Japan in its Renaissance period, just preceding the advent of 
the greatest of her mathematicians, Seki, and each is therefore 

1 OZAWA, Sanka Furyaku, "Brief Lineage of Mathematicians", manuscript 
of 1801. 

2 ENDO gives it as ISOMURA, Book I, pp. 65, 67, and Book II, p. 20 etc., 
and in this he was at first followed by HAYASHI, History, part I, p. 33, 
although the latter soon after discovered that IWAMURA was the better form. 
HAYASHI gives the personal name as Yoshinori. 

3 Or Sampo-kelsugi-sho. 



V. The Third Period. 

worthy of our attention. Of the Yoshida problems the following 
are types: 1 

"There is a log of precious wood 18 feet 2 long, whose bases 
are 5 feet and 2^ feet in circumference. ... Into what lengths 
should it be cut to trisect the volume?" 

"There have been excavated 560 measures of earth which 
are to be used for the base of a building. 3 The base is to 
be 30 measures square and 9 measures high. Required the 
size of the upper base." 

Fig. 23. From the second (1684) edition of Isomura's Ketsugi-sho. 

"There is a mound of earth in the form of the frustum of 
a circular cone. The circumferences of the bases are 40 mea- 
sures and 1 20 measures, and the mound is 6 measures high. 
If 1 200 measures of earth are taken evenly off the top, what 
will then be the height?" 

"A circular piece of land 100 measures in diameter is to be 
divided among three persons so that they shall receive 2900, 

1 The Ketsugi-sho of 1660, Book 4. 

2 In the original "3 measures". 

3 That is, for a mound in the form of a frustum of a square pyramid. 

V. The Third Period. 67 

2500, and 2500 measures respectively. 1 Required the lengths 
of the chords and the altitudes of the segments." 

The rest of the problems relate to the triangle and to linear 
simultaneous equations of the kind found in such works as the 
"Nine Sections", the Suan-fa Tung-tsong, and the Suan-hsiao 
Chi-meng. The last of the problems given above is solved by 
Isomura as follows: 

"Divide 7900 measures, 2 the total area, by 2900 measures 
of the northern segment, the result being 2 724. 3 Double this 
result and we have 5448. Divide the square of the diameter, 
100 measures, by 5448 and the result is 1835.554* measures. 
The square root of this is 42.85 measures. Subtract this from 
half the diameter and we have 7.15 measures. Multiply the 
42.85 by this and we have 306.4 measures. We now multiply 
by a certain constant for the square and the circle, and divide 
by the diameter and we have 3.45 measures. Subtract this 
from 42.85 measures and we have 39.4 measures for the 
height of the northern segment . . ." 

Following Yoshida's example, Isomura gives a series of 
problems for solution, a hundred in number, placing them in 
his fifth book. A few of these will show the status of mathe- 
matics at the time of Isomura: 

"From a point in a triangle lines are drawn to the vertices. 
Given the lengths of these lines and of two sides of the triangle, 
to find the length of the third side of the triangle." (No. 28.) 

"A string 62.5 feet long is laid out so as to form Seimei's 
Seal, s Required the length of the side of the regular pentagon 
in the center." (No. 38.) 

"A string is coiled so as first to form a circle 0.05 feet in 
diameter, and [then so that the coils shall] always keep 0.05 
feet apart, and the coil finally measures 125 feet in diameter. 

1 By drawing two parallel chords. 

2 It would have been 7854 if he had taken ir= 3.1416. 

3 I. e., 2.724+- 

4 Where we now introduce the fraction for clearness. 

5 Abe no Seimei was a famous astrologer who died in 1005. His seal 
was the regular pentagonal star, the badge of the Pythagorean brotherhood. 


68 V. The Third Period. 

What is the length of the string?" (No. 39.) The reading 
of this problem is not clear, but Isomura seems to mean that 
a spiral of Archimedes is to be formed coiled about an inner 
circle, and finally closing in an outer circle. The curve has 
attracted a good deal of attention in Japan. 

"There is a log 18 feet long, the diameter of the extremities 
being I foot and 2.6 feet respectively. This is wound spirally 
with a string 75 feet long, the coils being 2.5 feet apart. How 
many times does the string go around it?" (No. 41.) 

"The bases of a frustum of a circular cone have for their 
respective diameters 50 measures and 120 measures, and the 
height of the frustum is 1 1 measures. Required to trisect the 
volume by planes perpendicular to the base." (No. 44.) 

"The bases of a frustum of a circular cone have for their re- 
spective diameters 120 and 250 measures, and the height of the 
frustum is 25 measures. The frustum is to be cut obliquely. 
Required the perimeter of the section." (No. 45.) Presumably 
the cutting plane is to be tangent to both bases, thus forming 
a complete ellipse, a figure frequently seen in Japanese works. 

"In a circle 3 feet in dia- 
meter 9 other circles are to be 
placed, each being 0.2 of a 
foot from every other and from 
the large circle. Required the 
diameter of the larger circle in 
the center, and of the smaller 
circles surrounding it." (No. 60.) 
This requires us to place a 
circle A in the center, ar- 
ranging eight smaller circles B 
about it so as to satisfy the 

"If 19 equal circles are described outside a given circle that 
has a circumference of 12 feet, so as to be tangent to the 
given circle and to each other; and if 19 others are similarly 
described within the given circle, what will be the diameters 
of the circles in these two groups?" (No. 61.) 

V. The Third Period. 


"To find the length of the minor axis of an ellipse whose 
area is 748.940625, and whose major axis is 38 measures." 
(No. 84.) 

"To find one axis of an ellipsoid of revolution, the other 
axis being 1.8 feet, and the volume being 2422, the unit of 
volume being a cube whose edge is o.i of a foot." (N. 85.) 
Here the major axis is supposed to be the axis of revolution. 

Isomura was also interested in magic squares, and these forms 
were evidently the object of much study in his later years, 
since the 1684 edition of his Ketsugi-sho contains considerable 
material relating to the subject. In the first edition (1660) 
there appear both odd and even-celled squares. The following 
types suffice to illustrate the work. 1 




























1 1 






















































































1 It should be said that the history of the magic square has never ade- 
quately been treated. Such squares seem to have originated in China and 
to have spread throughout the Orient in early times. They are not found 
in the classical period in Europe, but were not uncommon during and after 
the 1 2th century. They are used as amulets in certain parts of the world, 
and have always been looked upon as having a cabalistic meaning. For a 
study of the subject from the modern standpoint see ANDREWS, W. S., Magic 
Squares, Chicago, 1907, and subsequent articles in The Open Court. 

V. The Third Period. 









































































1 1 

















I I 


































6 4 






7 1 




















































In the last (1684) edition he gives a number of new arrange- 
ments, including the following: 

V. The Third Period. 






























































Isomura did also a good deal of work on magic circles, 
the following appearing in his 1660 edition: 

V. The Third Period. 

V. The Third Period. 

In the 1684 edition 
of his Ketsugi-sho he 
gives what he calls 
sets of magic wheels. 
Here, and on pages 
74 and 75, the sums 
in the minor circles 
are constant. 

Isomura's method 1 
of finding the area 
of the circle is as 

1 1660 edition of the 
Ketsugi-sho, Book III. 


V. The Third Period. 

follows: Take a circle of diameter 10 units, and divide the 
circumference into parts whose lengths are each a unit. It 
will then be found that there are 31 of these equal arcs, with 
a smaller arc of length 0.62. Join the points of division to the 
center, thus making a series of triangular shaped figures. By 
























dove-tailing these triangles together we can form a rectangular 
shaped figure whose length is 15.81, and whose width is 5, so that 
the area equals 5 x 15.81, or 79.05. Hence, in modern notation, 
- x diameter is the area. 


In the 1660 edition of the Ketsugi-sJw he gives the surface 
of a sphere as one-fourth the square of its circumference, which 

V. The Third Period. 


would make it n 2 ;- 2 instead of 4Trr 2 . In the 1684 edition, 1 
however, he says that this is incorrect, although he asserts 
that it had been stated by Mori, Yoshida, Imamura, Takahara, 
Hiraga, Shimada, and others. It seems that the rule had been 
derived from considering the surface of the sphere as if it were 























51 s 












the skin of an orange that could be removed and cut into 
triangular forms and fitted together in the same manner as 
the sectors of a circle. The error arose from not considering 
the curvature of the surface. To rectify the error Isomura 

1 Book IV, note. 

76 V. The Third Period. 

took two concentric spheres with diameters 10 and 10.0002. 
He then took the differences of their volumes and divided this 
by o.oooi, the thickness of the rind that lay between the two 
surfaces. This gave for the spherical surface 314.160000041888, 

from which he deduced the formula, s = -~ = nd 2 . This in- 
genious process of finding s, which of course presupposes the 
ability to find the volume of a sphere, has since been employed 
by several writers. I 

It should be mentioned, before leaving the works of Isomura, 
that the 1684 edition of the Ketsugi-sho contains a few notes 
in which an attempt is made to solve some simultaneous linear 
equations by the method of the "Celestial element" already 
described. The author states, however, that he does not favor 
this method, since it seems to fetter the mind, the older 
arithmetical methods being preferable. 

Isomura seems not to have placed in his writings all of his 
knowledge of such subjects as the circle, for he distinctly 
states that one must be personally instructed in regard to some 
of these measures. Possibly he was desirous of keeping this 
knowledge a secret, in the same way that Tartaglia wished to 
keep his solution of the cubic. Indeed, there is a igth century 
manuscript that is anonymous, although probably written by 
Furukawa Ken, bearing the title Sanwa Zuihitsu (Miscellany 
about Mathematical Subjects), in which it is related that Iso- 
mura possessed a secret book upon the mensuration of the 
circle, and in particular upon the circular arc. It is said that 
this was later owned by Watanabe Manzo Kazu, one of Aida 
Ammei's pupils, and a retainer of the Lord of Nihommatsu, 
where Isomura one time dwelt. The writer of the Sanwa 
Zuihitsu asserts that he saw the book in 1811, during a visit 
at his home by Watanabe, and that he made a copy of it at 
that time. He says that the methods were not modern and 
that they contained fallacies, but that the explanations were 

1 It is given in Takebe Kenko's manuscript work, the Fnkyii Tetsujtitsu 
of 1722, in an anonymous manuscript entitled Kigenkai, and in a work of 
the I gth century by Wada Nei. 

V. The Third Period. 77 

minute. The title of the work was Koshigen Yensetsu Hompo, 
and it was dated the i$th day of the 3d month of 1679. 

Next in rank to Isomura, in this period, was Muramatsu 
Kudayu Mosei. 1 He was a pupil of Hiraga Yasuhide, a 
distinguished teacher but not a writer, who served under the 
feudal Lord of Mito, meeting with a tragic death in 1683. 2 

Muramatsu was a retainer of Asano, Lord of Ako, whose 
forced suicide caused the heroic deed of the "Forty -seven 
Ronins" so familiar to readers of Japanese annals. Muramatsu 
is sometimes recorded as one of the honored "Forty-seven", 
but it was his adopted son, Kihei, and Kihei's son, who were 
among the number. 3 As to Muramatsu himself, he died at 
an advanced age after a life of great activity in his chosen 

In 1663 Muramatsu began the publication of a work in five 
books, entitled the Sanso.* In this he treats chiefly of arith- 
metic and mensuration, following in part the Chinese work, 
Suan-hsiao Chi-meng, written by Chu Chi-chieh, as mentioned 
on page 48, but he fails to introduce the method of the "Ce- 
lestial element". The most noteworthy part of his work relates 
to the study of polygons s and to the mensuration of the circle. 6 

Taking the radius of the circumscribed circle as 5, he cal- 
culates the sides of the regular polygons as follows: 

No. of sides. Length of side. No. of sides. Length of side. 

























1 Not Matsumura, as given by ENDO. The name Mosei appears as Shigekiyo 
in his Mantoku Jinko-ki (1665). 

2 See the Stories told by Araki. 

3 AOYAMA, Lives of the Forty-seven Loyal Men (in Japanese). 

4 The last book bears the date 1684, and may not have appeared earlier. 

5 Book 2. 6 Book 4. 

78 V. The Third Period. 

To calculate the circumference Muramatsu begins with an 
inscribed square whose diagonal is unity. He then doubles the 
number of sides, forming a regular octagon, the diameter of 
the circumscribed circle being one. He continues to double 
the number of sides until a regular inscribed polygon of 3278 
sides is reached. He computes the perimeters of these sides 
in order, by applying the Pythagorean Theorem, with the 
following results: 

No. of sides. Perimeter. 

2* 3.06146745892071817384 

2 4 3.121445152258052370213 

2 6 3.140331156954753 

2? 3.1412792509327729134016 

2 8 3.141513801144301128448 

29 3.14157294036/091435162 
2 10 3.14158772527715976659 
2" 3.141591421511186733296 
2 12 3.1415923455701046761472 
2*3 3.1415925765848605108681 
2 14 3.14159263433855298 

2*5 3.141592648777698869248 

Having reached this point, Muramatsu proceeded to compare 
the various Chinese values of TT, and stated his conclusion that 
3.14 should be taken, unaware of the fact that he had found 
the first 8 figures correctly. 1 

Muramatsu gives a brief statement as to his method of 
finding the volume of a sphere, but does not enter into details. 2 
He takes 10 as the diameter, and by means of parallel planes 
he cuts the sphere into 100 segments of equal altitude. He 
then assumes that each of these segments is a cylinder, either 
with the greater of the two bases as its base, or with the 
lesser one. If he takes the greater base, the sum of the vol- 

1 EXDO, Book I, p. 70. 

2 The Sanso, Book 5. 

V. The Third Period. 


umes is 562.5 cubic units; but if he takes the lesser one this 
sum is only 493.04 cubic units. He then says that the volume 
of the sphere lies between these limits, and he assumes, without, 

Fig. 24. Magic circle, from Muramatsu Kudayii Mosei's Mantoku Jinko-ki (1665). 

stating his reasons, that it is 524, which is somewhat less than 
either their arithmetic (527) or their geometric (526.6) mean, 1 
and which is equivalent to taking TT as 3.144. 

Muramatsu was also interested in magic squares 2 and magic 

* ENDO thinks that he may have reached this value by cutting the sphere 
into 200, 400 or some other number of equal parts. History, Book I, p. Jl. 
2 His rakusho (afterwards called hojiri) problems. 


V. The Third Period. 

circles. 1 One of his magic squares has 19* cells, as did one 
published by Nozawa Teicho in the following year. 8 One of 
his magic circles, in which 129 numbers are used, is shown in 
Fig. 24 on page 79. With the numbers expressed in Arabic 
numerals it is as follows: 

In Muramatsu's work also appears a variant of the famous 
old Josephus problem, as it is often called in the West, a 
problem that had already appeared in the Jinko-ki of Yoshida. 

1 His ensan problems. Sanso, Book 2. 

2 In his Dokai-sho of 1664, 

V. The Third Period. 


Fig. 25. The Josephus problem, from Muramatsu Kudayu Mosei's Mantoku /v\ 

Jinko-ri (1665). 


V. The Third Period. 

As given by Seki, a little later, it is as follows: "Once upon 
a time there lived a wealthy farmer who had thirty children, 
half being born of his first wife and half of his second one. 
The latter wished a favorite son to inherit all the property, 
and accordingly she asked him one day, saying: Would it 
not be well to arrange our thirty children on a circle, calling 

Fig. 26. The Josephus problem, from Miyake Kenryfi's Shojutsu 
Sangaku Zuye (1795 edition). 

one of them the first and counting out every tenth one until 
there should remain only one, who should be called the heir. 
The husband assenting, the wife arranged the children as shown 
in the figure T . The counting then began as shown and resulted 
in the elimination of fourteen step-children at once, leaving 
only one. Thereupon the wife, feeling confident of her success, 

1 The step children are represented by dark circles, and her own children 
by light ones. In the old manuscripts the latter are colored red. 

V. The Third Period. 

said: Now that the elimination has proceeded to this stage, 
let us reverse the order, beginning with the child I choose. 
The husband agreed again, and the counting proceeded in the 
reverse order, with the unexpected result that all of the second 
wife's children were stricken out and there remained only the 
step-child, and accordingly he inherited the property." The 
original is shown in Fig. 25, and an interesting illustration from 
Miyake's work of 1795 in Fig. 26, but the following diagram 
will assist the reader: 

120 End 


Reverse count begins here 
Figures outside. 

Direct count begins here 
Figures inside. 


Perhaps it is more in accord with oriental than with oc- 
cidental nature that the interesting agreement should have 


84 V. The Third Period. 

remained in force, with the result that the heir should have 
been a step-son of the wife who planned the arrangement. 
Seki also gave the problem, having obtained it from the Jinko- 
ki of Yoshida, although he mentions only the fact that it is an 
old tradition. Possibly it was one of Michinori's problems in 
the twelfth century, but whether it started in the East and 
made its way to the West, or vice versa, we do not know. 
The earliest definite trace of the analogous problem in Europe 
is in the Codex Einsidelensis, early in the tenth century, 
although a Latin work of Roman times 1 attributes it to Flavius 
Josephus. It is also mentioned in an eleventh century manu- 
script in Munich and in the Ta'hbula of Rabbi Abraham ben Ezra 
(d. 1067). It is to the latter that Elias Levita, who seems first 
to have made it known in print (1518), assigns its origin. It 
commonly appears as a problem relating to Turks and Christians, 
or to Jews and Christians, half of whom must be sacrificed to 
save a sinking ship. 3 

The next writer of note was Nozawa Teicho, who published 
his Dokai-sho in 1664, and who followed the custom begun by 
Yoshida in the proposing of problems for solution. Nozawa 
solved all of Isomura's problems and proposed a hundred new 
ones. He also suggested the quadrature of the circle by cutting 
it into a number of segments and then summing these partial 
areas. He went so far as to suggest the same plan for the 
sphere, but in neither case does he carry his work to com- 
pletion. It is of interest to see this approach to the calculus 
in Japan, contemporary with the like approach at this time in 
Europe. Muramatsu had approximated the volume of the 

* De bello judaico, III, 16. This was formerly attributed to Hegesippus of 
the second century A. D., but it is now thought to be by a later writer of 
uncertain date. 

2 Common names are Ludus Josephi, Josephsspiel, Sankt Peder's lek (Swedish), 
and the Josephus Problem. The Japanese name was Mameko-date, the step- 
children problem. It was very common in early printed books on arithmetic, 
as in those of Cardan (1539), Ramus (1569), and Thierfelder (1587). The best 
Japanese commentary on the problem is Fujita Sadusuke's Sandatsti Kaigi 
(Commentary on Sandatsu), 1774. 

V. The Third Period. 

sphere by means of the summation of cylinders formed on 
circles cut by parallel planes. He had taken 100 of these 
sections, and possibly more, and had taken some kind of 
average that led him to fix upon 524 as the volume of a 
sphere of radius 5. Nozawa apparently intends to go a step 
further and to take thinner laminae, thus approaching the 
method used by Cavalieri in his Methodus indivisibilibus. T It is 
possible, as we shall see later, that some hint of the methods 
of the West had already reached the Far East, or it is possible 
that, as seems so often the case, the world was merely show- 
ing that it was intellectually maturing at about the same rate 
in regions far remote one from the other. 

Two years later, in 1666, the annns mirabilis of England, 
Sato Seiko 2 wrote his work entitled Kongenki. In this he 
attempted to solve the problems proposed by Isomura and 
Nozawa, and he set forth 150 new questions. Mention should 
also be made of his interest in magic circles. Since with him 
closes the attempts at the mensuration of the circle and sphere 
prior to the work of Seki, it is proper to give in tabular form 
the results up to this time.^ 




Area of Circle 

Volume of 











Yamada 1656 














Muramatsu 1663 














1 Written in 1629, but printed in 1635. 

2 Given incorrectly in FUKUDA'S Sampo Tamatebako of 1879, and in ENDO, 
Book I, p. 73, as Sato Seioku. 

3 The table in substantially this form appears in HAYASHI'S History, p. -37. 
See also HERZER, P., loc. cit., p. 35 of the Kiel reprint of 1905 ; ENDO, I, p. 75. 

86 V. The Third Period. 

Sato's Kongenki of 1666 is particularly noteworthy as being 
the first Japanese treatise in which the "Celestial element" 
method in algebra, as set forth in the Suan-hsiao Chi-meng^ 
is successfully used. Some of the problems given by him 
require the solution of numerical equations of degree as high 
as the sixth, and it is here that Sato shows his advance over 
his predecessors. The numerical quadratic had been solved in 
Japan before his time, and even certain numerical cubics, but 
Sato was the first to carry this method of solution to equa- 
tions of higher degree. In spite of the fact that he knew the 
principle, Sato showed little desire to carry it out, however, 
so that it was left to his successor to make more widely known 
the Chinese method and to show its great possibilities. 

This successor was Sawaguchi Kazuyuki, 2 a pupil of Taka- 
hara Kisshu, and afterwards a pupil of the great Seki. In 1 670 
Sawaguchi wrote the Kokon Sampo-ki, the "Old and New Me- 
thods of Mathematics". The work consists of seven books, the 
first three of which contain the ordinary mathematical work 
of the time, and the next three a solution by means of equa- 
tions of the problems proposed by Sato. 3 He also followed 
Nozawa in attempting to use a crude calculus (Fig. 27) some- 
what like that known to Cavalieri. Sawaguchi was for a time 
a retainer of Lord Seki Bingo-no-Kami, but through some fault 
of his own he lost the position and the closing years of his 
life were spent in obscurity. 4 

Sawaguchi's solutions of Sato's problems are not given in 
full. The equations are stated, but these are followed by the 
answers only. An equation of the first degree is called a 
kijo shiki, "divisional expression", inasmuch as only division is 
needed in its solution, of course after the transposition and 

1 See p. 48. 

2 In later years he seems, according to the Stories told by Araki, to have 
changed his name to Goto Kakubei, although other writers take the two to 
be distinct personages. 

3 It should also be mentioned that a similar use of equations is found in 
Sugiyama Teiji's work that appeared in the same year. 

4 The Stories told by Araki. 

V. The Third Period. 87 

uniting of terms. Equations of higher degree are called kaiho 
shiki, "root-extracting expressions". As a rule only a single 
root of an equation is taken, although in a few problems this 
rule is not followed. 1 This idea of the plurality of roots is a 












Fig. 27. Early steps in the calculus. From Sawaguchi Kazuyuki's Kokon 

Sampo-ki (1670). 

noteworthy advance upon the work of the earlier Chinese 
writers, since the latter had recognized only one root to any 
equation. As is usual in such forward movements, however, 
Sawaguchi did not recognize the significance of the plural 

1 Sato had already recognised the plurality of roots in his Kongenki. 

88 V. The Third Period. 

roots, calling problems which yielded them erroneous in their 

That Sawaguchi's methods may be understood as fully as 
the nature of his work allows, a few of his solutions of Sato's 
problems are set forth: 

"There is a right triangle whose hypotenuse is 6, and the 
sum of whose area and the square root of one side is 7.2384. 
Required the other two sides". (No. 64.) 

Sawaguchi gives the following direstions: 

"Take the 'Celestial element' to be the first side. Square 
this and subtract the result from the square of the hypotenuse. 
The remainder is the square of the second side. Multiplying 
this by the square of the first side, we have 4 times the square 
of the area, which will be called A. Let 4 times the square of the 
first side be called B. Arrange the sum, square it, and multiply 
by 4. From the result subtract A and B. The square of the 
remainder is 4 times the product of A and B, and this we 
shall call X. Arrange A, multiply by B, take 4 times the 
product, and subtract the quantity from X, thus obtaining an 
equation of the 8th degree. This gives, evolved in the reverse 
method, * the first side." The result for the two sides are then 
given as 5.76, and I.68. 2 

Sato's problem No. 16 is as follows: "There is a circle from 
within which a square is cut, the remaining portion having an 
area of 47.6255. If the diameter of the circle is 7 more than 
the square root of a side of the square, it is required to find 
the diameter of the circle and the side of the square." -5 Sawa- 
guchi looks upon the problem as "deranged", since it has two 
solutions, viz., d=c>, s = 4, and ^=7.8242133... and s = 
0.67932764 .... He therefore changes the quantities as given in 

1 That is, when the signs of the coefficients are changed in the course 
of the operation. 

2 Expressed in modern symbols, let j = the sum, 7.2384, ^==the hypo- 
tenuse, and ^- = the first side. Then, by his rule, [4^ (/i 2 x 2 ) x 2 4* 2 ] 2 

16*4 (fc X 2) = o. 

3 I. e., u d* jz = 47 . 6255 , and d Vs = 7. 

V. The Third Period. 


the problem, making the area 12.278, and the difference 4. He 
then considers the equation as before, viz., ltd* s 2 = 12.278, 
and d Vs = 4. Then d = 6 and s = 4, taking - TT to be 0.785 5. 

Sawaguchi next considers a problem from the Dokai-sho of 
Nozawa Teicho (1664), viz: "There is a rectangular piece of 
land 300 measures long and 132 measures wide. It is to be 
equally divided among 4 men as here shown, in such manner 

that three of the portions shall be squares. Required the di- 
mensions of the parts." 

Sato gives two solutions of this problem in his Kongenki, as 

1. Each of the square portions is 90 measures on a side; 
the fourth portion is 27 measures wide; and the roads are 
each 15 measures wide. 

2. Each of the square portions is 60 measures on a side; 
the fourth portion is 12 measures wide; and the roads are each 
60 measures wide. 

This solution of Sato's leads Sawaguchi to dilate upon the 
subtle nature of mathematics that permits of more than one 
solution to a problem that is apparently simple. 

Of the hundred and fifty problems in Sato's work Sawa- 
guchi says that he leaves some sixteen unsolved because they 
relate to the circle. He announces, however, that it is his in- 
tention to consider problems of this nature orally with his 
pupils, and he gives without explanation the value of TT as 

Two of the sixteen unsolved problems are as follows: 

9O V. The Third Period. 

"The area of a sector of a circle is 41.3112, the radius is 
8.5, and the altitude of the segment cut off by a chord is 2. 
Required to find the chord." (No. 34.) 

"From a segment of a circle a circle is cut out, leaving the 
remaining area 97.27632. The chord is 24, and the two parts 

of the altitude, after the circle cuts out a portion as shown in 
the figure, are each 1.8. Required the diameter of the small 

The seventh and last book of Sawaguchi's work consists of 
fifteen new problems, all of which were solved four years later 
by Seki, who states that one of them leads to an equation of 
the 1458th degree. This equation was substantially solved 
twenty years later by Miyagi Seiko of Kyoto, in his work 
entitled Wakan Sampo. 

Seki Kowa. 

In the third month according to the lunar calendar, in the 
year 1642 of our era, a son was born to Uchiyama Shichibei, 
a member of the samurai class living at Fujioka in the pro- 
vince of Kozuke. * While still in his infancy this child, a 
younger son of his parents, was adopted into another noble 
family, that of Seki Gorozayemon, and hence there was given 
to him the name of Seki by which he is commonly known to 
the world. Seki Shinsuke Kowa 2 was born in the same year 3 
in which Galileo died, and at a time of great activity in the 
mathematical world both of the East and the West. And just 
as Newton, in considering the labors of such of his immediate 
predecessors as Kepler, Cavalieri, Descartes, Fermat, and Barrow, 
was able to say that he had stood upon the shoulders of giants, 
so Seki came at an auspicious time for a great mathematical 
advance in Japan, with the labors of Yoshida, Imamura, Iso- 
mura, Muramatsu, and Sawaguchi upon which to build. The 
coincidence of birth seems all the more significant because of 
the possible similarity of achievement, Newton having invented 
the calculus of fluxions in the West, while Seki possibly 
invented the yenri or "circle principle" in the East, each 

1 Not far from Yedo, the Shogun's capital, the present TokyS. 

2 Or Takakazu. On the life of Seki see MIKAMI, Y., Seki and Shibukawa, 
Jahresbericht der Deuischen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, Vol. XVII, p. 187; 
ENDO, Book II, p. 40; OZAWA, Lineage of Mathematicians (in Japanese) ; 
HAYASHI, History, part I, p. 43, and the memorial volume (in Japanese) issued 
on the two-hundredth anniversary of Seki's death, 1908. 

3 C. KAWAKITA, in an article in the Honcho Sugaku Koenshu, says that 
some believe Seki to have been born in 1637. 

92 VI. Seki Kowa. 

designed to accomplish much the same purpose, and each 
destined to material improvement in later generations. The 
yenri is not any too well known and it is somewhat difficult 
to judge of its comparative value, Japanese scholars themselves 
being undecided as to the relative merits of this form of the 
calculus and that given to the world by Newton and Leibnitz. * 

Seki's great abilities showed themselves at an early age. 
The story goes that when he was only five he pointed out 
the errors of his elders in certain calculations which were being 
discussed in his presence, and that the people so marveled at 
his attainments that they gave him the title of divine child. 2 

Another story relates that when he was but nine years of 
age, Seki one time saw a servant studying the Jinko-ki of 
Yoshida. And when the servant was perplexed over a certain 
problem, Seki volunteered to help him, and easily showed him 
the proper solution. 3 This second story varies with the narrator, 
Kamizawa Teikan 4 telling us that the servant first interested 
the youthful Seki in the arithmetic of the Jinko-ki, and then 
taught him his first mathematics. Others s say that Seki 
learned mathematics from the great teacher Takahara Kisshu 
who, it will be remembered, had sat at the feet of Mori as 
one of his san-shi, although this belief is not generally held. 
Most writers 6 agree that he was self-made and self-educated, 

1 Thus ENDO feels that the yenri was quite equal to the calculus (History, 
Book III, p. 203). See also HAYASHI, History, part I, p. 44, and the Honcho 
Siigaku Kdenshit, pp. 33 36. Opposed to this idea is Professor R. FUJISAWA 
of the University of Tokyo who asserts that the yenri resembles the Chinese 
methods and is much inferior to the calculus. The question will be more 
fully considered in a later chapter. 

2 KAMIZAWA TEIKAV (1710 1795), Okinagusa, Book VIII. KAMIZAWA 
lived at KyQto. This title was also placed upon the monument to Seki erected 
in Tokyo in 1794. 

3 Kuichi Sanjin, in the Sugaku Hochi, No. 55. 

4 Okinagusa, Book VIII. 

5 See FUKUDA'S Sampo Tamatebako, 1879; ENDO, Book II, p. 40; HAYASHI 
in the Honcho Sugaku Koenshu, 1908. 

6 Fujita Sadasuke in the preface to his Seiyo Sampo, 17795 Ozawa Seiyo 
in his Lineage of Mathematicians (in Japanese), 1801; the anonymous manu- 
script entitled Sanka Keizu. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 93 

his works showing no apparent influence of other teachers, but 
on the contrary displaying an originality that may well have 
led him to instruct himself from his youth up. T Whatever 
may have been his early training Seki must have progressed 
very rapidly, for he early acquired a library of the standard 
Japanese and Chinese works on mathematics, and learned, 
apparently from the Suan-hsiao Cki-meng, 2 the method of 
solving the numerical higher equation. And with this progress 
in learning came a popular appreciation that soon surrounded 
him with pupils and that gave to him the title of The Arith- 
metical Sage. 3 In due time he, as a descendent of the samurai 
class, served in public capacity, his office being that of ex- 
aminer of accounts to the Lord of Koshu, just as Newton 
^became master of the mint under Queen Anne. When his 
lord became heir to the Shogun, Seki became a Shogunate 
samurai, and in 1704 was given a position of honor as master 
of ceremonies in the Shogun's household. 4 He died on the 
24th day of the loth month in the year 1708, at the age of 
sixty-six, leaving no descendents of his own blood, s He was 
buried in a Buddhist cemetery, the Jorinji, at Ushigome in 
Yedo (Tokyo), where eighty years later his tomb was rebuilt, 
as the inscription tell us, by mathematicians of his school. 

Several stories are told of Seki, some of which throw interest- 
ing sides lights upon his character. 6 One of these relates that 
he one time journeyed from Yedo to Kofu, a city in Koshu, 
or the Province of Kai, on a mission from his lord. Traveling 
in a palanquin he amused himself by noting the directions and 

1 The fact that the long epitaph upon his tomb makes no mention of 
any teacher points to the same conclusion. 

2 In the Okinagusa of Kamizawa this is given as the Sangaku Gomo, but in 
an anonymous manuscript entitled the Samoa Zuihitsu the Chinese classic is 
specially given on the authority of one Saito in his Burin Inken Roku. 

3 In Japanese, Sansei. This title was also carved upon his tomb. 

4 KAMIZAWA, Okinagusa, Book VIII; Kuichi Sanjin in the Stlgaku Hochi, 
No. 55; ENDO, Book II, p. 40. 

5 His heir was Shinshichi, or ShinshichirO, a nephew. ENDO, Book II, 
p. 81. 

6 KAMIZAWA, Okinagusa, Book VIII. 

94 VI. Seki Kowa. 

distances, the objects along the way, the elevations and de- 
pressions, and all that characterized the topography of the 
region, jotting down the results upon paper as he went. From 
these notes he prepared a map of the region so minutely and 
carefully drawn that on his return to Yedo his master was 
greatly impressed with the powers of description of one who 
traveled like a samurai but observed like a geographer. 

Another story relates how the Shogun, who had been the 
Lord of Koshu, once upon a time decided to distribute equal 
portions of a large piece of precious incense wood among the 
members of his family. But when the official who was to cut 
the wood attempted the division he found no way of meeting 
his lord's demand that the shares should be equal. He there- 
fore appealed to his brother officials who with one accord, 
advised him that no one could determine the method of cutting 
the precious wood save only Seki. Much relieved, the official 
appealed to "The Arithmetical Sage" and not in vain. 1 

It is also told of Seki that a wonderful clock was sent from 
the Emperor of China as a present to the Shogun, so arranged 
that the figure of a man would strike the hours. And after 
some years a delicate spring became deranged, so that the 
figure would no longer strike the bell. Then were called in 
the most skilful artisans of the land, but none was able to 
repair the clock, until Seki heard of his master's trouble. Asking 
that he might take the clock to his own home, he soon restored 
it to the Shogun successfully repaired and again correctly 
striking the hours. 

Such anecdotes have some value in showing the acumen 
and versatility of the man, and they explain why he should 
have been sought for a post of such responsibility as that of 
examiner of accounts. 2 

The name of Seki has long been associated with the yenri, 
a form of ihe calculus that was possibly invented by him, and 

1 The story is evidently based upon the problem of Yoshida already given 
on page 66. 

2 KAMIZAWA, Okinagusa, Book VIII. 

VI. Seki Kovva. 95 

that will be considered in Qiapter VIII.) It is with greater 
certainty that he is known for msTJenzan method, an algebraic 
system that improved upon the method of the "Celestial ele- 
ment" inherited from the Chinese; for the Yendan jutsu, a 
scheme by which the treatment of equations and other branches 
of algebra is simpler than by the methods inherited from China 
and improved by such Japanese writers as Isomura and Sawa- 
guchi, and for his work in determinants that antedated what 
has heretofore been considered the first discovery, namely the 
investigations of Leibnitz. 

As to his works, it is said that he left hundreds of un- 
published manuscripts, 1 but if this be true most of them are 
lost 2 He also published the Hatsubi Sampo in 1674.3 In this 
he solved the fifteen problems given in Sawaguchi's Kokon 
Sampo-ki of 1670, only the final equations being given. 4 

As to Seki's real power, and as to the justice of ranking him 
with his great contemporaries of the West, there is much doubt. 
He certainly improved the methods used in algebra, but we 
are Jnot at all sure that his name is properly connected with 
the yenri. 

For this reason, and because of his fame, it has been thought 
best to enter more fully into his work than into that of any 
of his predecessors, so that the reader may have before him 
the material for independent judgment. 

First it is proposed to set forth a few of the problems that 
were set by Sawaguchi, with Seki's equations and with one of 
Takebe's solutions. 

1 ENDO, Book II, p. 41. 

2 For further particulars see ENDO, loc. cit., and the Seki memorial volume 
(Seki-ryil Shichibusho, or Seven Books on Mathematics of the Seki School) 
published in Tokyo in 1908. 

3 This is the work mentioned by Professor Hayashi as the Hakki JSampo 
of Mitaki and Mie (Miye). 

4 In 1685 one of Seki's pupils, Takebe Kenko, published a work entitled 
Hatsubi Sampo Yendan Genkai, or the "Full explanations of the Hatsubi Sampo," 
in which the problems are explained. He states that the blocks for printing 
the work were burned in 1680 and that he had attempted to make good 
their loss. 

96 VI. Seki Kowa. 

Sawaguchi's first problem is as follows: "In a circle three 
other circles are inscribed as here shown, the remaining area 
being 120 square units. The common diameter of the two 
smallest circles is 5 units less than the diameter of the one 
that is next in size. Required to compute the diameters of 
the various circles." 

Seki solves the problem as follows: "Arrange the 'celestial 
element', taking it as the diameter of the smallest circles. Add 
to this the given quantity and the result is the diameter of the 
middle circle. Square this and call the result A. 
6 "Take twice the square of the diameter of the smallest 
circles and add this to A, multiplying the sum by the moment 
of the circumference. 1 Call this product B. 
^ "Multiply 4 times the remaining area by the moment of 
diameter. 2 

"This being added to B the result is the product of the 
square of the diameter of the largest circle multiplied by the 
moment of circumference. This is called C. 3 

1 By' the "moment of the circumference'' is meant the numerator of the 
fractional value of IT. This is 22 in case IT is taken as . 

2 "Moment of diameter'" means the denominator of the fractional value 
of IT. In the case of , this is 7. That is, we have 7x120. 

3 Thus far the solution is as follows: Let x = the diameter of the smallest 
circle, and y the diameter of the largest circle. Then x -f- 5 is the diameter 
of the so-called "middle circle." 

VI. Seki Kowa. 97 

"Take the diameter of the smallest circle and multiply it by 
A and by the moment of the circumference. Call the result D. * 
^"From four times the diameter of the middle circle take the 
diameter of the smallest circle, and from C times this product 
take D. The square of the remainder is the product of the 
square of the sum of four times the diameter of the middle 
circle and twice the diameter of the smallest circle, the square 
of the diameter of the middle circle, the square of the moment 
of circumference, and the square of the diameter of the largest 
circle. Call this X. 2 

O "The sum of four times the diameter of the middle circle 
and twice the diameter of the smallest circle being squared, 
multiply it by A and by C and by the moment of circum- 
ference. 3 This quantity being canceled with X we get an 
equation of the 6th degree. 4 Finding the root of this equation 
according to the reversed orders we have the diameter of the 
smallest circle. 

"Reasoning from this value the diameters of the other circles 
are obtained." 

Then x* + lox -f- 25 = A, 

22 (3 x* + iox -f- 25) = B, 

and 7 4 120 + B = C = 22y 2 , where ir = . 

That the formula for C is correct is seen by substituting for 120 the 
difference in the areas as stated. We then have 

7 4 

22 fy* (* + 5) z 2x\ 

- < --- ---- > -\- > = C, 

7 14 4 4 / 

or 22 (yz x* 10 x 25 2 x* + 3^2 -f~ 10* -+ 2 5) = C, 

or 22_y 2 = C, which is, as stated in the rule, "the product of the square of 
the diameter of the largest circle multiplied by the moment of circumference." 

i I.e., 22 x (x* + 10^ + 25) D. 

* I. e., {C [4 (x + 5) - *] - D}* =5 X. 

3 I. e., 22 22^* (x -\- 5) 2 [4 (x -j- 5) -f- 2 x]*. This is merely the second 
part of the preceding paragraph stated differently. 

4 I. e., X = 22 2 (3 xy* 4. 5 ;j/2 x*)*, and this quantity equals 
22 * y 2 (x -|- 5)2 (6x -j- 2o) 2 . Their difference is a sextic. 

5 As explained on page 53. 


98 VI. Seki Kowa. 

It may add to an appreciation or an understanding of the 
mathematics of this period if we add Takebe's analysis. 

Let x be the diameter of the largest circle, y that of the 
middle circle, and z that of the smallest circles. 1 

Then let AC= a, AD = b , AB c, and BC=d, these 
being auxiliary unknowns at the present time. 

2 a = z 4- x, 

4 a 2 = z 2 2 zx + x* 

4 a 2 s 2 = 2 zx + A' 2 . 

X\ (l) 

i Takebe of course expresses these quantities in Chinese characters. The 
coefficients are represented by him in the usual sangi form, where \x, -\.y 
and \\xy stand respectively for x, y, and 2xy. This notation is called 
the bosho or side-notation and is mentioned later in this work. Expressions 
containing an unknown are arranged vertically, and other polynomials are 
arranged horizontally. Thus for x, a-\-x, a 2 2 ax -j- x* we have 

O I" I 2 

I I * 


respectively, while for a 2 -|- 2 ab -}- b* we have 

\a2 \\a(> \b* 
with Chinese characters in place of these letters. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 99 

If we take y from x we have y + x, which is 2c. 


4 c * =y 2 2 yx + x*. (2) 

To y add 2 and we have 

2d=y + z. 

4 d 2 =y 2 + 2yz + z 2 . 

Subtracting z*S we have 

4 (^ + s =7 2 + 27*. 

Subtract from this (i) and (2) and we have 
&xSc= 2yz + (22 + 2y) x2x*. 
Dividing by 2, 

bx$c=yz+ (z -\r y) x x 2 . \ 


b z x i6c*=y*z 2 + (2y*z + 2yz*) x + (y + z) 2 x 2 

(2y + 2z) x* + x*. (3) 

Multiplying (i) by (2) we also have 
b 2 x. \6c 2 2y 2 zx + (y 2 + 4yz)x 2 (2y -f 2z}x* + x*, 
which being canceled with the expression in (3) gives 

y*z 2 + (4y*z + 2yz a )x + ( 4yz + z 2 )x= o, 
from which, by canceling z, 

y 2 z + (4y* + 2yz)x + ( 47 + z)x 2 = o. 
This may be written in the form 

y 2 z + (x 2 z 4x 2 y) + (4y 2 + 2yz}x = o. 

Takebe has now eliminated his auxiliary unknowns, and he 
directs that the quantity in the first parenthesis be squared 
and canceled with the square of the rest of the expression, a 

1 And noting that d* (- 1 -) z* = (b-\-cy. 

2 This amounts to equating x*z 4* 2 y to [j/ 2 z + (4^* -j- zvz) x], and 
then squaring and canceling out like terms. 



VI. Seki Kowa. 

and that the rest of the steps be followed as in Seki's solution. 
In this he expresses y and z in terms of x and given quantities 
and thus finds an equation of the sixth degree in x. Without 
attempting to carry out his suggestions, enough has been given 
to show his ingenuity in elimination. 

The 1 2th problem proposed by Sawaguchi is as follows: 
There is a triangle in which three lines, a, b, and c, are 
drawn as shown in the figure. It is given that 

a = 4, b = 6, c = 1.447, 

that the sum of the cubes of the greatest and smallest sides 
is 637, and that the sum of the cubes of the other side and 
of the greatest side is 855. Required to find the lengths of 
the sides. 

Seki solves this problem by the use of an equation of the 
54th degree. 

The 1 4th problem is of somewhat the same character. It 
is as follows: 

There is a quadrilateral whose sides and diagonals are re- 
presented by u, v, w, x, y, and z, as shown in the figure. 


VI. Seki Kowa. IOI 

It is given that 

S 3 U 3 = 271 

U 3 2/3=217 

^3 y3= 6O.8 

j3 TJU 3 = 326.2 

w^ x* = 61. 

Required to find the values of u, v, w, x, y, and z.* 

Seki does not state the equation that is to be solved, but 
he says: 

"To find z we have to solve by the reversed method an 
equation of the 145 8th degree. But since the analysis is very 
complicated and cannot be stated in a simple manner we omit 
it, merely hinting at the solution. 

"Take the 'celestial element' for z, from which the expressions 
of the cubes of u, v, w, x, and y may be derived. 

"Then eliminate x*, the analysis leading to an equation of 
the 1 8th degree. 

"Next eliminate ?f3, leading to an equation of the 54th degree. 

"Next eliminate y ', leading to an equation of the 162 d degree. 

"Next eliminate v^, leading to an equation of the 486th degree. 

"Now by eliminating u 3 two equal expressions result from 
which the final equation of the 145 8th degree is obtained. 
Solving this equation by the reversed method we obtain the 
value of z. This method 2 of analysis leads us to the result 
step by step and may serve as an example of the method of 
attacking difficult problems." 

Seki's explanation is, as he states, very obscure. Undoubt- 
edly he explained the work orally to his pupils, with the sangi 
at hand. As the matter stands in his statement it would appear 
that he had five equations with six unknowns and that he had 

i This is exactly as in the original, except that symbols replace the words. 
With merely these equations it is indeterminate. Takebe adds another 
equation, z* + x^ = z,zs, where s is the projection of u upon z. 

3 Essentially the method of constructing the equation. 

IO2 VI. Seki Kowa. 

not made use of the geometric relations involved, so that we 
are left to conjecture what particular equations he may have 

Although the explanations given by Seki, as shown in the 
few examples quoted, are manifestly incomplete and obscure, 
they are nevertheless noteworthy as marking a step in mathe- 
matical analysis. His predecessors had been content to state 
mere rules for attaining their results, as were also many of 
the early European algebraists. Leonardo of Pisa, for example, 
solves a numerical cubic equation to a remarkable degree of 
approximation, but we have not the slightest idea of his method. 
Even in the sixteenth century the Italian and German algebraists 
were content to use the Latin expression "Fac ita". 1 Seki, how- 
ever, paid special attention to the analysis of his problems, and to 
this his great success as a teacher was largely due. His method 
of procedure was known as the yendan jutsu, yendan meaning ex- 
planation or expositon, and jutsu meaning process, 2 a method 
in which the explanation was carried along with the manipulating 
of the sangi in the "Celestial Element" calculation of the Chi- 
nese. When a problem arises in which two or more unknowns 
appear there are, in general, two or more expressions involving 
these unknowns. These expressions Seki was wont to write 
upon paper, and then to simplify the relations between them 
until he reached an equation that was as elementary in form 
as possible. This was in opposition to the earlier plan of 
stating the equation at once without any intimation of the 
method by which it was derived. Moreover it led the pupil 
to consider at every step the process of simplifying the work, 
thus reducing as far as possible the degree of the equation 
which was finally to be solved. ^ Seki's pupil, Takebe, speaks 
enthusiastically of his master's clearness of analysis, in these 

1 In early German, thu ihm also. 

2 We might translate the expression by the single word analysis. 

3 ENDO calls attention to the fact that the yendan jutsu may be looked 
upon as the repeated application of the tengen jutsu mentioned on p. 48. 
See his Biography of Seki (in Japanese) in the Toyo Gaku-gei Zasshi, vol. 14, 
P- 3I3- 

VI. Seki Kowa. 103 

words: 1 "In fact this yendan is a process that was never set 
forth in China with the same clearness as in Japan. It is one 
of the brilliant products of my master's school and it must 
be agreed that it surpasses all other mathematical achieve- 
ments, ancient or modern." 

These words seem to be those of an enthusiastic disciple 
rather than a simple chronicler of fact, since from the evidence 
that is before us the yendan was merely a common-sense form 
of analysis such as any mathematician or teacher might employ, 
although we must admit that his predecessors had not made 
any use of it. 

Takebe is not content, however, to let Seki's fame as a 
teacher rest here, and so he hints at another and rather 
esoteric theory, as one of the initiates of the Pythagorean 
brotherhood might have given mysterious reference to some 
carefully concealed principle of the great master. 

"Although", he says, "there is yet another divine method that 
is more far-reaching, still I shall not attempt to explain it, for 
fear that one whose knowledge is so limited as mine would 
tend to misrepresent its significance," a tribute, probably, 
to the tenzan method, Seki's improvement upon that of the 
"Celestial Element". * Takebe's reticence in speaking of it may 
merely have reflected the modesty of Seki himself, for of this 
modesty we are well assured by divers writers. To boast of 
such an invention would have been entirely foreign to the 
samurai spirit of Seki and to the exalted principles of Bushido. 
On the other hand, this custom of secrecy had existed every- 
where before Seki's time, as witness the attitude of Tartaglia 
and Cardan, and even of a man like Galileo. In Japan, Mori 
is said to have kept a secret book that was revealed only to 
his most deserving pupils, 3 and Isomura also had one, his 

1 TAKEBE, Hatsubi Sampo Yendan Genkai, 1685, preface. 

2 Tenzan has a broader meaning that may here be understood. It includes 
practically all of Japanese mathematics except possibly yenri. In a restricted 
sense it is written mathematics, but it sometimes includes the "Celestial 
Element" method. 

3 See the Samva Znihitsu. 

IO4 VI. Seki Kowa. 

book treating of the calculations relating to a circle and an 
arc. 1 Seki was so impressed with his discovery that he re- 
vealed it to his most promising followers only upon their 
swearing, with their own blood, never to make it public. And 
so, for more than half a century after Seki's death the secret 
remained, not becoming known to the world until Arima Raidd, 
feudal lord 2 of Kurume, in the island of Kyushu, revealed it 
in his Shuki Sampo* in 1769. 

This method was called by Seki the kigen seiho, meaning a 
method for revealing the true and buried origin of things. The 
term suggests the title of the papyrus of Ahmes, written in 
Egypt more than three thousand years earlier, "The science 
of dark things." It would be interesting to know the origin 
and history of this name for algebra or certain algebraic pro- 
cesses, since it is found in various parts of the world and in 
various ages. The tenzan method being the one to which 
Takebe seems to have referred in his work of 1685, we are 
quite certain that it was invented some time before this date. 4 
It is first called by this name by Matsunaga Ryohitsu. It 
is related that Lord Naito of Nobeoka, in Kyushu, himself no 
mean mathematician, was the one who caused the adoption 
of the name, requiring Matsunaga, a pupil of Araki who was 
a direct disciple of Seki, to write the Hard- Yosan in which it 
appears, s 

The word tenzan consists of two Chinese ideograms, ten 
meaning to restore, and zan meaning to strike off. It would 
be most interesting if we could know the relation (if any) 
between this term and the name given by Mohammed ibn 
Musa al-Khowarazmi (c. 830) to his algebra, al-jebr w'al- 
muqabala, which words mean substantially the same thing, 

1 Ibid. 

2 DaimyO. 

3 It was in this book that the value of IT to fifty decimal places was first 
printed in Japan, an approximation already reached by Matsunaga. 

4 ENDO, in the Toyo Gaku-gei Zasshi, vol. 14, p. 314. 

5 OZAWA'S Lineage of Mathematicians (Japanese), 1801. The Horo-Yosan is 
a manuscript without date. 

VI. Seki Kowa. IO5 

restoration and reduction. 1 Does this resemblance tell of the 
passing of the mystery of "the science of dark things" from 
one school to another in the perpetual interchange of thought 
in the world's great republic of scholars, or are these re- 
semblances that are continually met in the history of mathe- 
matics mere coincidences? This tenzan method may, however, 
justly be called a purely Japanese product, the product of Seki's 
brain, and quite unrelated to any Chinese treatment. 2 

We shall now speak of the notation employed in this method. 
This notation is the bosho shiki already mentioned. In earlier 
times it had been the habit of Japanese mathematicians to re- 
present numbers by the sangi method described in Chapter IV 
and known as the chu-shiki.* Seki amplifies this by writing 
the numerals at the side of a vertical line, the significance of 
which will be explained in a moment. Since these numerals 
were written at the side of a line this method of writing them 
is known as bosho shiki or "side notation". In our explanation 
we necessarly use Latin letters and Hindu-Arabic forms instead 
of the Chinese ideograms, but otherwise the representations 

are substantially correct. Seki writes -, , and - - as follows: 

3 mn 

3)2, n\ or | i, mn\abc, the numerators being placed on the 
right and the denominators on the left. Sometimes the vertical 
line is replaced by sangi coefficients, as in the case of 

r||ir, 2 7 =\\\\\abc, for 4 ab, ^, and^- 
Powers of quantities are represented thus: 

la 6 


372 T^ k& 

for # 4 , 3tf 6 ^ 8 , - . It will be seen that the exponent in 
each case is one less than that used in occidental mathematics. 

1 The varied fortunes of the name for algebra, in Europe, is interesting. 
Thus we have such titles as algiebr, algobra, nmkabel, almucable, arte maggiore, 
ars magna, coss, cossic art, and so on. 

2 ENDO, Book II, p. 8. 

3 Sangi notation. 

106 VI. Seki Kowa. 

The reason is that in the wasan as in Chinese mathematics 
the nth power of a quantity is called the "(n I) times self- 
multiplied". That is, the native oriental exponent shows not 
the number of factors but the number of times a quantity is 
multiplied by itself. The fractional exponent was not used in 
the native algebra of Japan. 

The "side notation" was also used in other ways. Thus a + b 
might be indicated in either of the ways here shown. 

\l or \ a \b 

To indicate subtraction an oblique cancelation line was used. 
Thus b a was indicated in these four ways: 

It will be noticed that this tensan notation was employed in 
Seki's yendan method. Indeed the tenzan may be considered 
as the notation, while the yendan refers to the method of anal- 
ysis. It is difficult to justify the extravagant praise of the 
disciples of Seki with respect to either of these phases of his 
work. He must have been very clear in his own analysis with 
his pupils, and this gave them a higher appreciation of the 
yendan than anything that has come down to us would warrant. 
And as for the notation, while this is an improvement upon 
that of the Chinese, the improvement does not seem to have 
been so great as to warrant the praise which it has provoked. 
It was applied to the entire range of Japanese mathematics 
except the yenri or circle principle, 1 but we know that the 
Chinese notation would have been quite sufficient for the work 
t'o be accomplished. In its application to factoring, the finding 
of highest common factor and the lowest common multiple, 
the summation of infinite series and of power series of the type 
I* + 2" + 3* + ..., the shosa-ho or method of differences, the 
theory of numbers, the tetsu-jutsu or expansion in series of 
the root of a quadratic equation, the calculation relating to 

1 See ARIMA'S Shiiki Sampo, 1769; ENDO, Book II, pp. 4, 5, and in the 
Toyo Gaku-gei Zasski, vol. 14, pp. 362 364. 

VI. Seki Kowa. IO/ 

regular polygons, and the study of maxima and minima, the 
tensan notation seems to have served its purposes fairly well, 
better indeed than any notation known in Japan up to that 
time. How much of this application to the various branches 
of algebra was due to Seki and how much to his disciples, 
we shall never know. The old Pythagorean idea of ipse dixit 
seems to have prevailed in Seki's school, and the master may 
often have received credit for what the pupil did. 

Thus far, indeed, we have not found much in the way of 
discovery to justify the high standing of Seki. It is therefore 
well to consider some of the more serious contributions attri- 
buted to him. For this purpose we shall go to a work published 
by Otaka Yusho in 1712, although compiled before 1709, that 
is, soon after Seki's death. Otaka was a pupil of Araki Son- 
yei, who had learned from Seki himself, and the book claims 
to be a posthumous publication of the works of this master, 
edited by Otaka under Araki's guidance. Although this work, 
known as the Katsuyo Samps S does not contain the tenzan 
system, it gives a good idea of some of Seki's other work, and 
on this account the publication was a subject of deep regret 
to the brotherhood of his followers. Tradition says that it 
was owing to the protests of these followers that no further 
publication of Seki's works was undertaken at a time when an 
abundance of material was at hand. 

One of the subjects treated in the Katsuyo Sampo is the 
shosa-ho or shosa method, a theory that seems to have arisen 
from the study of problems like the summation of I* + 2 H + 3* 
+ . . . Suppose, for example, we have such a function as 
P=a 1 _x + a 2 x 2 + ... + a n x", 

where the coefficients are as yet undetermined. Then if a 
sufficient number of values P t - are known for various values of 
x, the various values ai can be determined, and this is one of 
the problems of the shosa-ho. Professor Hayashi speaks of 
the method in general as that of finite differences, and this 
certainly is one of its distinguishing features. 

1 "A summary of arithmetical rules." 

108 VI. Seki Kowa. 

This skosa-ho in its general form is not an invention of Seki's. 
It appears to be of Chinese origin, perhaps invented by Kuo 
Shou-ching, a celebrated astronomer of the court of the Mogul 
Empire of the I3th and I4th centuries, and possibly even of 
earlier origin. There are three special forms, however: (i) the 
ruisai shosa of which an illustration has just been given; (2) the 
hotel shosa, and (3) the konton shosa, these latter two being 
first described in the Shuki Sampo of 1 769. Seki's contribution 
was, therefore, a worthy generalization of an older Chinese 
device, and the application of this improvement to new problems. 

The shosa-ho was doubtless employed by Otaka in his 
Katsuyo Sampo (1712), in which there appears a table that 
expresses the formulas for the power series 

S r = i r +2 r +y+ ... + n r , 

for r= i, 2, 3, .... N. Such power series were called by 
the name hoda, and some of the results of their summation 
are as follows: 

S 2 =~ 

5 4 = -L (6 #s -j- 1 5 4 

5 5 = -^ (2 n 6 + 6n$ + 5 4 _ ), 


and so on to 

= (2 I2 + i2" + 22 10 

In Book III of this same work, the Katsuyo Sampo, there is 
his Kakuho narabini Yendan-Zu, a treatment of the subject of 
regular polygons, namely of those of sides numbering 3, 4, ... 20. 
To illustrate some of the results we shall consider the case 
of the apothem of a regular polygon of thirteen sides. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 109 

Using the annexed figure, as given in the Katsuyo Sampo 
(see Fig. 28 for the original), and letting the side of the 


polygon be unity, the apothem x, and the radius y, we have 


(i + 4-f 2 ) 3 = i + I2x 2 + 48^ + 0>4x 6 4.og6xabcde, 

a statement made without any explanation. Otaka now pro- 
ceeds by a series of unproved statements to develop two 
equations, viz., 

- i + $\2x 2 1 14,400 x* + 109,824^ 329,472 X* + 292,864 x 10 
- 53,248 x" = o, 

from which we are to find x, the apothem, and 

from which we are to find y, the radius. 

The treatment of the circle is given in Book IV of the 
Katsuyo Sampo and is similar to that attempted by Muramatsu 
in his Sanso of 1663. A circle of unit diameter is taken, a 
square is inscribed, and the sides of the inscribed regular polygon 
are continually doubled until a polygon of 2 1 ? sides is reached. 

VI. SekiKowa. 



Fig. 28. From Otaka's Katsuyo Sampo (1712). 

VI. Seki Kowa. Ill 

The treatment thus far is not at all original, but the work is 
carried farther than in Muramatsu's treatise and it represents 
about the same state of mathematical progress that was found 
in Europe some fifty years earlier than Muramatsu, or about a 
century before the death of Seki. Two new features, however, 
appear. Of these the first is that if the perimeters of the last 
three polygons are 

=3- 14159 26487 76985 6708 
=3. HI59 26523 86591 3571 + 

c=-$. 14159 26532 88992 7759- 

TT = b + 77 , 
= 3. 14159265359- 

which reminds us of some of the incorrect assumptions of 
the Antiphon-Bryson period, and of the close of the sixteenth 
century in Europe. 

The second feature is, however, the interesting one. Starting 

with the fraction , if we increase the denominator succes- 
sively by unity, and then increase the numerator successively 
by 4 or by 3 according as the previous fraction is less or 
greater than the known decimal value of rr, we shall obtain a 
series of values as follows: 

(1) Y = 3, "Old value," less than TT 

(2) --- = 3.5, greater than TT 

(4) 7 = 3-25, 

(6) T | = 3-166 ..., 

(7) 22 = 3. 142857 .. ., "Exact value," 

112 VI. Seki Kowa. 

(8) y = 3.125, "Chih's value," less than rr 

(20) = 3.15, "Tung Ling's value," greater than TT 

(25) ~ = 3- 1 6, "Old Japanese value," 

(45) ^ = 3 1 5 5 . , "Liu Chi's value," 

(50) i^= 3. 14, "Hui's (Liu Hui's) value," less than TT 

(113) ff|= 3.14159292 . . ., greater than TT 

The names above quoted are given by Otaka, and are 

"2. C C 

probably those used by Seki. The last value, , is not as- 
signed a name, which seems to show that Seki was not aware 
of Tsu Ch'ung-chih's measurement of the circle as set forth 
in his Chui-sku, and recorded in Wei Chih's Sui-S/tu. 1 The 
value itself first appears in printed form in Japan in the works 
of Ikeda Shoi (1672), Matsuda Seisoku (1680) and Takebe 
Kenko (1683). 

The problem of computing the length of a circular arc also 
appears in the Katsuyo Sampo, the formula being given as 
1276900 (dh}$ a 2 = 5 107600^ // 23835413 d$ k* 

+ 43470240 d*> h* 37997429 d* fa 
+ 1 5047062 d 2 /i$ 1 501025 dJP 

where d diameter, h = height of segment, and a = length 
of arc. In the special case where d= 10 and // = 2 this 
reduces to 

41841459200 a 2 == 3597849073280. 

The method 2 of deriving this formula seems to have been 
purely inductive, the result of repeated measurements, since the 
explanation is so obscure as to be entirely unintelligible. 

1 "Records of the Sui Dynasty." This fact was known, however, to 
Takebe, who mentions it in his Ftikyu Tetsujntsu of 1722. It is also given 
in Matsunaga's Hoyen Sankyo of 1739. See also p. 14, above. The original 
Chui-shu of Tsu Ch'ung-chih has been lost. 

2 Perhaps relates to the shosa method in a modified form. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 113 

The volume of the sphere is computed in the Katsuyo Sampd 
(and also in Seki's Ritsuyen-ritsii-Kai} in an ingenious manner. 
The sphere is cut into 50, 100, and 200 segments of equal 
altitude, the diameter being taken as 10. From this Otaka obtains 
in some way the three parameters 666.4, 666.6, 666.65, each 
of which he multiplies by to obtain the three volumes. Calling 
the parameters a, b, and c, he now takes a mean in this manner: 

as in the case of the circle. Multiplying by 

= , we have 
4 4x113 

--- ^'-SXIPQO 

339 678 

2 r r 

for the required volume. This amounts to taking g^| for 
^-, which means that the formula v= nr* is correctly used. 

One of Seki's favorite studies was the theory of equations, 
a subject treated in his works on the Kaiho Hempen* the 
Byodai Meichi,* the Daijutsu Bengi*, the Kaiho Sanshiki* and 
the Kaihd Hengi-jutsuf In the first of these works he class- 
ifies equations into four kinds, the jensho shiki (perfect equa- 
tions), hcnsho shiki (varied equations), kosho shiki (mixed equa- 
tions), and the musho shiki (rootless equations), a system not 
unlike those found in the works of the Persian and Arabian 
writers, the classification according to degree being relatively 
modern even in Europe. By a perfect equation he means 
one that has only a single root, positive or negative. A varied 
equation is one in which several roots occur, but all of the 
same sign. A mixed equation is one in which several roots 

1 "Various topics about equations." 

2 Literally, "On making pathological problems perfect." 

3 Literally, "Discussion on the data of problems." 

4 Literally, "Considerations on the solution of equations." 

5 Literally, "On new methods for the solution of equations." 


VI. Seki Kowa. 

occur, but not all of the same sign. A rootless equation is 
one having neither a positive nor a negative root, restricted 
as Seki was aware to equations of even degree. 1 

In the Kailio Hompen 2 Seki treats of positive and negative 
roots, and sets forth a method called the tekizin-hd* represent- 
ed by the following table: 

o degree 



































The method of deriving this table, analogous to that for the 
Pascal Triangle, is evident. Indeed, the vertical columns are 
simply the horizontal ones of the usual triangular array. Seki 
does not tell how the numbers are obtained, and no explanation 
seems to have been given by any Japanese until Wada Nei 
gave one in the first half of the nineteenth century.* Such an 
array is rather obvious and was known long before Pascal or 
even Apianus (1527) published it.s Seki might have used it, 
as others in the West had done, for binomial coefficients, but 
it was not meant by him for this purpose. 

In his Dyddai Meichi Seki calls attention to the fact that 

* I. e., in general. Of course we have also x = V 2, x = iti, etc., as 
well as jr 3 = V 2, etc., although Seki makes no mention of such forms, 
having apparently no conception of the imaginary root. 

2 The Kaiho-Houpen of Hayashi's History, part I, p. 52. 

3 Literally, "Vanishing method," relating to maxima and minima. 

4 In connection with his theory of maxima and minima. 

5 SMITH, D. E., Rara Arithmetica, Boston, 1908, p. 155. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 115 

the mensuration of the circle or of any regular polygon requires 
but a single given quantity; that of a rectangle or pyramid, 
two given quantities; and that of a trapezoid, three. He then 
designates as tendai (insufficient problems) those problems in 
which there are not enough data for a solution, while those 
having too many data are designated as handai (excessive 
problems). He also states that in certain problems, although 
the data are correct as to number, no perfect answer is to be 
expected, and these problems he calls kyodai (imaginary). They 
arise, he says, in three cases: (i) where there is no root, 
(2) where all roots are negative, and (3) where the roots of 
the equation do not satisfy the conditions of the original problem. 
To illustrate the latter case he uses a simple problem involving 
the elementary principle of geometric continuity. He proposes 
to find the greater base of a trapezoid of altitude 9, the 
difference between the bases being 4, and the smaller base 
being 10 less than the altitude. The problem is trivial, the 
smaller base being 9 10 or i, and the greater being 4 I 
or 3. The smaller base, i, does not appear to Seki to 
satisfy a geometric problem, so he proceeds with considerable 
circumlocution to explain what is perfectly obvious, that the 
trapezoid is a cross quadrilateral. The question of possible 
roots of an equation is discussed at some length but in a 
very elementary manner. 

Problems leading to equations with two or more roots, or 
with negative roots, or with positive roots that do not satisfy 
the conditions of the problems, are called by Seki hendai or 
pathological problems, and were intended to be transformed 
into the ordinary determinate cases by a change in the wording. 

In his solution of numerical equations Seki not only used 
the "celestial element" plan by which the Chinese had anti- 
cipated Horner's Method as early as 1247, but he effected at 
least one improvement on the Chinese plan, 1 unconsciously 
following a line laid down by Newton. 

1 This is seen in two manuscript works entitled Kalho Sanshiki and 
Kaiho Hengi-jutsu. 

VI. Seki Ko\va. 
For example, in the equation 

the "celestial element" method gives the first two figures of 
one root as 1.7. Proceeding as usual in Horner's Method 
we have an equation of the form 


;r 2 = o. 

Seki now takes ^- = 0.063, but unlike his predecessors he 

treats this as negative since the two coefficients are positive, 
and proceeds as before, his next equation being of the form 

0.004169 + 4.474 x + x 2 = o. 

Repeating the process we have for the continuation of the 
root 0.0009318. Continuing the same process Seki obtains 
for the root 1.76393202250020. 

One of Seki's Seven Books 1 is devoted to magic squares 
and circles, a subject to which he may have been led by his 
study (in 1661) of a Chinese work by Yang Hui. He con- 
siders separately the magic squares with an odd number and 
an even number of cells, and with him begins the first scientific, 
general treatment of the subject in Japan. He begins by putting 
into obscure verse his rule for arranging a square of 3* cells. 
It would have been impossible to make out the meaning had 
Seki not given the square in a subsequent part of his manu- 

script. As here shown the square is the common one that 
was well known long before Seki's time. Upon his method 

1 The Hojin Yensan, (Hojin Ensan) revised in manuscript in 1683. Araki 
gave to these the name of "Seven Books" (Shichibusho), and these he handed 
down to his disciples. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 


for a square of 3 2 cells he bases his general rule for one of 
(2n-f i) 2 cells, and this is substantially as follows: 

Begin with the cell next to the left of the upper right-hand 
corner and number to the right and down the right-hand 

























column until n is reached. In the annexed figure we have a 
square of 

(2n + i) 2 = (2.3 + i) 2 = 7 2 cells. 

We therefore number until 3 is reached. Then go to the left, 
from the cell to the left of i, until 2n I (in this case 
2.3 i = 5) is reached. Then continue down the right side 
to the cell preceding the lower right-hand one, giving 6, 7, 8, 9. 
Then continue along the top row until the upper left-hand 
corner is reached, giving 10, n, 12. This leaves the left-hand 
column to be completed, and the lower row to be filled. This 
is done by filling all except the corner cells by the comple- 
ments to (2n + i) 2 + i of the respective numbers on the oppo- 
site side, --in this case the complements to the number 50. 
Thus, 50 3 = 47, 50 6 = 44, and so on. The corner 
cells are complements to 50 of the opposite corners. 

The next step is to take n figures to the left of the upper 
right-hand corner and interchange them with the corre- 
sponding ones in the lower row, and similarly for the n figures 


VI. Seki Kowa. 

above the lower right hand corner. The square then appears 
as here shown. 

























To fill the inner cells Seki follows a similar rule, except 
that the numbers now begin with 13. Without entering upon 
the exact details it will be easy for the reader to trace the 
plan by studying the result as here shown. The innermost 
square of 3 2 cells is filled by the method first given. 


















































The even-celled squares have always proved more trouble- 
some than the odd-celled ones. Seki first gives a rule for a 
square of 4 2 cells, with the result as here shown. He then 

VI. Seki Kowa. 

divides these squares into those that are simply even and 
those that are doubly even. 1 

















For the simply even squares above 4*, Seki begins, with the 
third cell to the left of the upper right-hand corner, preceding 
thence to the left, as shown in the figure. Then he goes back 
to the upper right-hand cell (for 5, in the case here shown) 
and proceeds down the right-hand column to the third cell 
from the bottom. He then fills the vacant cell at the top 





















(in this case with 9), and puts the next number (10) in the 
next cell in the right-hand column. The remaining cells in 
the left-hand column and the lower row are complements 
of the corresponding numbers with respect to 4 (n + i) 2 + I, 
there being 2 (n + i) elements on a side, as in the case of an 
odd-celled square. The interchange of elements is now made 
in a manner somewhat like that of the odd-celled square, 

1 [2 ( + i)] 2 , and [2 (2 n)] 2 . 


VI. Seki Kowa. 

the result being here shown for the case of a square of 6 2 
cells. The rest of the process is as in the odd- celled case. 





















For the doubly even magic square the first step of Seki's 
method will be sufficiently understood by reference to the 
following figure, in which the number is 8 2 . The inner squares 
are filled in order until the one of 4 2 cells is reached, when 
that is filled in the manner first shown. 





























Seki simplified the treatment of magic circles, giving in sub- 
stance the following rule: 

Let the number of diameters be n. Begin with i at the 
center and write the numbers in order on any radius, and so 

VI. Seki Kowa. 


on along the next n i. Then take the radius opposite the 
last one and set the numbers down in order, beginning at the 
outside, and so on along the rest of the radii. In Fig. 29 the 
sum on any circle is 140, and for readers who have not be- 
come familiar with the Chinese numerals the following diagram, 
although arranged for only thirty three numbers, will be of service: 

In another of Seki's manuscripts T there appears the Josephus 
problem already mentioned in connection with Muramatsu. 

Mention should be made of Seki's work on the mensuration 
of solids, which appears in two of his manuscripts. 2 He begins 

1 Sandaisu Kempu (Kenpti). 

2 The Kyitseki (Calculation of Areas and Volumes) and the Kyuketsu 
ciigyo So (An incomplete treatise on the volume of a sphere). 


VI. Seki Kowa. 

by considering the volume of a ring 1 generated by the revolu- 
tion of a segment of a circle about a diameter parallel to the 
chord of the segment. He states that the volume is equal to 

Fig. 29. Magic circle, from the Seki reprint of 1908. 

the product of the cube of the chord and the moment of 
spherical volume.* 

He finds this volume by taking from the sphere the central 

1 He calls it an "arc-ring," kokan or kokwan in Japanese. 

2 That is, the volume of a unit sphere. It is called by Seki the ritsu-yen 
seki ritsu or gyoku seki ho. 

VI. Seki Kowa. 


cylinder and the two caps. 1 He also considers the case in 
which the axis cuts the segment. 



He likewise finds the volume generated by a lune formed 
by two arcs, the axis being parallel to the common chord, 
and either cutting the lune or lying wholly outside. Such 
work does not seem very difficult at present, but in Seki's 
time it was an advance over anything known in Japan. 2 These 
problems were to Japan what those of Cavalieri were to Europe, 
making a way for the Katsujutsu or method of multiple inte- 
gration ^ of a later period. 

Seki also concerned himself with indeterminate equations, 
beginning with ax by = I, to be solved for integers. 4 His 
first indeterminate problem is as follows: "There is a certain 
number of things of which it is only known that this number 
divided by 5 leaves a remainder I, and divided by 7 leaves a 
remainder 2. Required the number." 

1 This is stated by an anonymous commentary known as the Kyiiketsu 
Hertgyo So Genkai. 

2 ENDO, Book II, p. 45. 

3 Or rather the method of repeated application of the tetsujittsu expansion. 
Some of the problems involved only a single integration. 

4 This appears in his Shiii Shoyaku no Ho, written in 1683. His method 
of attacking these problems he calls the senkan futsu. Problems of this 
nature appeared in the Kivatsuyo Sampo. 

124 VI - Seki 

Since the number is evidently $x + I, and also 'jy + 2, 

we have 

S x+ i = 77 + 2, 

whence 5 y 7y = i , 

which is in the form that he is considering. By what he 
calls the "method of leaving unity", he solves and finds that 
#=3, jp = 2, and the number is 16. He then proceeds to 
generalize the case for any number of divisors. 1 
Seki also gives the following typical problem: 
"There is a certain number of things of which it is only 
known that this number multiplied by 35 and divided by 42 
leaves a remainder 35; and multiplied by 44 and divided by 
32 leaves a remainder 28; and multiplied by 45 and divided 
by 50 leaves a remainder 35. Required the number." His 
result is 13 and it is obtained by a plan analogous to the 
one used in the first problem. His other indeterminate problems 
show a good deal of ingenuity in arranging the conditions, 
but it is not necessary to enter further into this field. 

One of the most marked proofs of Seki's genius is seen in 
his anticipation of the notion of determinants. 2 The school of 
Seki offered in succession five diplomas, representing various 
degrees of efficiency. The diploma of the third class was 
called the Fukudai-menkyo, and represented eighteen or nineteen 
subjects. The last of these subjects related to the fukudai 
problems or problems involving determinants, and since it 
appears in a revision of i683, 3 its discovery antedates this 
year. Leibnitz (1646 1716), to whom the Western world 
generally assigns the first idea of determinants 4 , simply asserted 

1 Jo-ichi jutsu. He seems to have taken it from the Chinese method of 
Ch'in Chiu-shao as set forth in the Su-shu Chiu-chang of 1247. 

2 T. HAYASHI, The "Fukudai" and Determinants in Japanese Mathematics. 
Tokyd Sugaku-Buturigakkwai Kizi, vol. V (2), p. 254 (1910). 

3 The Fukudai-wo-kaisuru-ho or Kai-fukudai-no-ho (Method of solving fukudai 

4 T. MuiR, Theory of Determinants in the historic order of its development. 
London, 1890; D. E. SMITH, History of Modern Mathematics. New York, 
1906, p. 26. 

VI. Seki Kowa, 12$ 

that in order that the equations 

IO+ \\X-\- I2J = O, 20+ 21*+ 22J=O, 30 + 3 I # + 32j = O 

may have the same roots the expression 

10.21.32 10.22.3111.20.32+ 11.22.30 + 12.20.3112.21.30 

must vanish. 1 On the other hand, Seki treats of n equations. 
While Leibnitz's discovery was made in 1693 and was not 
published until after his death, it is evident that Seki was not 
only the discoverer but that he had a much broader idea than 
that of his great German contemporary. To show the essential 
features of his method we may first suppose that we have 
two equations of the second degree, 

ax z + bx + c o 
ax* + b'x + c = o. 

Eliminating x* we have 

(a b ab') x + (a c ac') = o, 

and eliminating the absolute term and suppressing the factor x 
we have 

(ac a c) x + {be b' c) = o. 

That is, we have two equations of the second degree and 
transform them into two equations of the first degree by what 
the Japanese called the process of folding (tataimi). In the 
same way we may transform n equations of the w th degree 
into n equations of the n I degree. 2 From these latter 
equations the wasanka* proceeded to eliminate the various 
powers of x. Since it was their custom to write only the 
coefficients, including all zero coefficients, and not to equate 
to zero, 4 their array of coefficients formed in itself a deter- 
minant, although they did not look upon it as a special function 
of the coefficients. On this array Seki now proceeds to per- 

* See MUIR, loc. cit., p. 5. 

2 Called Kwanshiki (substitute equations). 

3 Follower of the wasan (native mathematics). 

4 The second member always being zero in a Japanese equation. 

126 VI. Seki Kowa. 

form two operations, the san (to cut) and the chi (to manage). 
The san consisted in the removal of a constant literal factor 
in any row or column, exactly as we remove a factor from 
a determinant today. If the array (our determinant) equalled 
zero, this factor was at once dropped. The chi was the same 
operation with respect to a numerical factor. 

Seki also expands this array of coefficients, practically the 
determinant that is the eliminant of the equations. In this 
expansion some of the products are positive and these are 
called set (kept alive), while others are negative and are called 
koku (put to death), and rules for determining these signs are 
given. Seki knew that the number of terms in the expansion 
of a determinant of the th order was n\, and he also knew 
the law of interchange of columns and rows. 1 Whatever, there- 
fore, may be our opinion as to Seki's originality in the yenri, 2 
or even as to his knowledge of that system at all or as to 
its value, we are compelled to recognize that to him rather 
than to Leibnitz is due the first step in the theory which after- 
wards, chiefly under the influence of Cramer (1750) and Cauchy 
(1812), was developed into the theory of determinants.^ The 
theory occupied the attention of members of the Seki school 
from time to time as several anonymous manuscripts assert, 4 
but the fact that nothing was printed leads to the belief 

1 The details of these laws as expressed by the wasanka of the' Seki 
school have been made out with painstaking care by Professor HAYASHI, 
and for them the reader is referred to his article. 

2 See Chapter VIII. 

3 The best source for the history of the subject in the West is MUIR, 
loc. cit. 

4 Professor HAYASHI has several in his possession. An anonymous one 
that seems to have been written in the eighteenth century, entitled Fukudai 
riu san ka yendan justsu, is in the library of one of the authors (D. E. S.\ 
A contemporary of Seki's, Izeki Chishin, published a work entitled Sampo 
Hakki in 1690, in which the subject of determinants is treated, and upwards 
of twenty other works on the subject are now known. It is strange that 
the Japanese made no practical use of the idea in connection with the 
solution of linear equations, and entirely forgot the theory in the later period 
of the wasan. 

VI. Seki Kowa. I2/ 

that the process long remained a secret. It must be said, 
however, that the Chinese and Japanese method of writing 
a set of simultaneous equations was such that it is rather 
remarkable that no predecessor of Seki's discovered the idea 
of the determinant. 

We have now considered all of Seki's work save only the 
mysterious yenri, or circle principle. It must be confessed 
that aside from his anticipation of determinants the result is 
disappointing. In Chapter VIII we shall consider the yenri, 
of which there is grave doubt that Seki was the author, and 
aside from this and his discovery of determinants his reputation 
has no basis in any great field of mathematics. That he was 
a wonderful teacher there can be no doubt; that he did a 
great deal to awaken Japan to realize her power in learning 
no one will question; that he was ingenious in improving 
mathematical devices is evident in everything he attempted; 
but that he was a great mathematician, the discoverer pf any 
epoch-making theory, a genius of the highest order, there is 
not the slightest evidence. He may be compared with Christian 
Wolf rather than Leibnitz, and with Barrow rather than Newton. 
When, on November 15, 1907, His Majesty the Emperor of 
Japan paid great honor to his memory by bestowing upon 
him posthumously the junior class of the fourth Court rank, 
he rendered unprecedented distinction to a great scholar and 
a great teacher, but not to a great discoverer of mathematical 

t . 

Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

Whether or not Seki can be called a great genius in mathe- 
matics, certain it is that his contemporaries looked upon him 
as such, and that he reacted upon them in such way as to 
arouse among the scholars of his day the highest degree of 
enthusiasm. Although he followed in the footsteps of Pythagoras 
in his relations with his pupils, admitting only a few select 
initiates to a knowledge of his discoveries, 1 and although he 
kept his discoveries from the masses and gave no heed to the 
researches of his contemporaries, nevertheless the fact that he 
could accomplish results, that he could solve the puzzling 
problems of the day, and that he had such a large following 
of disciples, made him a stimulating example to others who 
were not at all in touch with him. In view of this fact it is 
now proposed to speak of some of Seki's contemporaries before 
considering his own relation to the yenri, and at the same 
time to consider the question of possible Western influence at 
this period. 

Two years before Seki published (1674) his Hatsubi Sampo; 
namely in 1672, Hoshino Sanenobu published his KokOgen-sho, 
and in 1674 Murase, a pupil of Isomura, wrote the Sampo 
Futsudan Kai. A year later (1675), Yuasa Tokushi, a pupil 
of Muramatsu, published in Japan the Chinese Suan-fa Tung- 
tsong. In 1 68 1 Okuda Yuyeki, a Nara physician, wrote the 
Shimpen Sansu-ki. Two years later, Takebe Kenko published 

1 A custom always followed in the native Japanese schools, not merely 
in mathematics but also in other lines. 

VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 129 

the Kenki Sampo, in which he solved the problems proposed 
in Ikeda Shoi's Sugaku Jojo Orai of 1672, without making use of 
the tenzan algebra of Seki, saying that "this touches upon 
what my mathematical master wishes kept secret," thus leaving 
unsolved those problems that required the senkan-jntsu and 
similar devices. It was in the work of Ikeda that the old 

3 C C 

Chinese value of TT, - , was first made known in Japan. 

In the same year (1683) Kozaka Sadanao published his 
Kuichi Sangaku-sho? He had been the pupil of a certain 
Tokuhisa Komatsu, founder of the Kuichi school of mathe- 
matics, a school that was much given to astrology and 
mysticism. 2 Also in this year Nakanishi Seiko published his 
Kokogen Tekito-sku, a book that was followed in 1684 by the 
Sampo Zoku Tekito-shu written by his brother, Nakanishi Seiri. 
These brothers had been pupils of Ikeda Shoi, and one of 
them 3 opened a school called after his name. 

In 1684 the second edition of Isomura's Ketsugi-sho appeared, 4 
and in the following year Takebe's commentary on Seki's 
Hatsubi Sampo was published. This latter made generally 
known the yendan method as taught by Seki. 

In 1687 Mochinaga and Ohashi published the Kaisan-ki 
Komokup and in 1688 the Tdsho Kaisanki. 6 In the first of 
these works we already find approaches to the crude methods 
of integration (see Fig. 30) that characterized the labors of 
the early Seki school. In the year 1688 Miyagi Seiko, the 
teacher of Ohashi, published the Meigen Sampo, to be followed 
in 1695 by hi s Wakan Sampo ^ in which he considers in detail 
the numerical equation of the 1458th degree already mentioned 
by Seki, and attempts to solve the hundred fifty problems 

1 Literally, the Mathematical Treatise of the Kuichi School. 

2 ENDO, Book II, p. 18. 

3 The eldest, Nakanishi Seiko, may have studied under one of Seki's 
pupils. ENDO, Book II, p. 20. 

4 See p. 65. 

5 Literally, the Summary of Kaisan-ki. 

6 Literally, the Kaisan-ki with Commentary. 

7 Japanese and Chinese Mathematical Methods. 


130 VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

in Sato's Kongenki and the fifteen in Sawaguchi's Kokon 
Sampo-ki (1670), all by the yendan process. 

Miyagi founded a school in Kyoto that bore his name, and 
to him is sometimes referred a manuscript 1 on the quadrature 
of the circle. He was highly esteemed as a scholar by his 

In 1689 Ando Kichiji of Kyoto published a work entitled 
Ikkyoku Sampo in which the yendan algebra is set forth, and 

fj 9 8 8 9 fl 9 fl # fl '3 l3 3\ $ 

Fig. 30. Early integration, from Mochinaga and Ohashi's 
Kaisan-ki Komoku (1687). 

in 1691 Nakane Genkei published a sequel to it under the 
title Shicliijo Beki Yenshiki. 

In 1696, Ikeda Shoi published a pamphlet on the mensur- 
ation of the circle and sphere^ and in 1698 Sato Moshun 

1 The Kohal Shokai. This is, however, an anonymous work of the 
eighteenth century. 

2 ENDO, Book II, p. 29. 

3 The Gyokuyen Kyoku-seki, the Limiting Values of the circular Area and 
spherical Volume. In the same year (1696) Nakane Genkei published his 
Tenmon Zukwai Hakki, an astronomical work of importance. The best 
astronomical treatise of this period is Shibukawa Shunkai's Tenmon Keilo, a 
manuscript in 8 vols. Nakane Genkei also wrote a work on the calendar, 
the Kmva Tsureki that was later revised by Kitai Oshima. 

VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 131 

Fig. 31. Mensuration of the circle, from Sato Moshun's 
Tengen Shinan (1698). 


132 VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

published his Tengen Shinan or Treatise on the Celestial 
Element Method. In this his method of finding the area of a 
circle is distinctly Western (Fig. 31), although it is so simple 
as to claim no particular habitat. 

This list is rather meaningless in itself, without further 
description of the works and a statement of their influence 
upon Japanese mathematics, and hence it may be thought to 
be of no value. It is inserted, however, for two purposes: 
first, that it might be seen that the Seki period, whether through 
Seki's influence or not, whether through the incipient influx of 
Western ideas or because of a spontaneous national awakening, 
was a period of special activity; and second, that it might be 
shown that out of a considerable list of contemporary writers, 
only those who in some way came under Seki's influence 
attained to any great prominence. 

We now turn to the second and more important question, 
did Seki and his contemporaries receive an impetus from the 
West? Did the Dutch traders, who had a monopoly of the 
legitimate intercourse with mercantile Japan, carry to the 
scholars of Nagasaki and vicinity, where the Dutch were 
permitted to trade, some knowledge of the great advance in 
mathematics then taking place in the countries of Europe ? 
Did the Jesuit missionaries in China, who had followed Matteo 
Ricci in fostering the study of mathematics in Peking, succeed 
in transmitting some inkling of their knowledge across the 
China Sea? Or did some adventurous scholar from Japan risk 
death at the order of the Shogun, 1 and venture westward in 
some trading ship bound homewards to the Netherlands? These 
are some of the questions that arise, and which there are 
legitimate reasons for asking, but they are questions that future 
research will have more definitely to answer. Some material 
for a reply exists, however, and the little knowledge that we 
have may properly be mentioned as a basis for future in- 

It has for some time been known, for instance, that there 

1 Even the importation of foreign books was suppressed in 1630. 

VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 133 

was a Japanese student of mathematics in Holland during 
Seki's time, 1 doubtless escaping by means of one of the Dutch 
trading vessels from Nagasaki. We know nothing of his 
Japanese name, but the Latin form adopted by him was 
Petrus Hartsingius, and we know that he studied under Van 
Schooten at Leyden. That he was a scholar of some distinc- 
tion is seen in the fact that Van Schooten makes mention of him 
in his Tractatns de concinnandis demonstrationibus geometricis 
ex calculo algebraico in one of his editions of Descartes's La 
Gcoincfrie, 2 as follows: "placuit majoris certitudinis ergo 
idem Theorema Synthetice verificare, procendo a concessis 
ad quaesita, prout ad hoc me instigavit praestantessimus ac 
undequaque doctissimus juvenis D. Petrus Hartsingius, lapo- 
nensis, quondam in addiscendis Mathematis, discipulus meus 
solertissimus."^ The passage in Van Schooten was first 
noticed by Giovanni Vacca, who communicated it to Professor 
Moritz Cantor. 

Some further light upon the matter is thrown by a record 
in the Album Studiosontm Acadcmiae Lngduno Batavae, 1 ' as 

"Petrus Hartsingius Japonensis, 31, M. Hon. C." with the 
date May 6, 1669. Here the numeral stands for the age of 
the student, M. for medicine, his major subject, and Hon. C. 
for Honoris Causa, his record having been an honorable one. 

1 HARZER, P., Die exaclen Wissemchaften im alien Japan, Jahresbericht der 
dcittschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, Bd. 14, 1905, Heft 6; MIKAMI, Y., Zur 
Frage abendliindischer Einfliisse auf die japanische Mathematik am Ende des 
sicbzehnten Jahrhunderts, Bibliotheca Mathematica, Bd. VII (3), Heft 4. 

2 HARZER quotes from the 1661 edition, p. 413. We have quoted from 
the Amsterdam edition of 1683, p. 413. 

3 T. HAYASHI remarks that the same words appear in a posthumous work 
of Van Schooten's, but this probably refers to the above editio tertia of 1683. 
See HAYASHI, T., On the Japanese who was in Europe about the middle of the 
seventeenth century (in Japanese), Journal of the 7"okyo Physics School, May, 1905; 
MIKAMI, Y., Hatono Soha and the mathematics of Sek'i, in the Nieuw ArchieJ 
i'oo>- Wiskitnde, tweede Reeks, Negende Deel, 1910. 

4 Hague, 1875. It gives a list of students and professors from 1575 
to 1875. 

134 VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

Mathematics, his first pursuit, had therefore given place to 
medicine, and in this subject, as in the other, he had done 
noteworthy work. Possibly the death of Van Schooten in 1661 
may have influenced this change, but it is. more likely that 
the common union of mathematics and medicine, as indeed 
of all the sciences in those days, 1 led him to combine his two 
interests. Moreover certain other records inform us that Hart- 
singius lived in the house of one Pieter van Nieucasteel by 
the Langebrugge, a bit of information that adds a touch 01 
reality to the picture. This record would therefore lead to 
the belief that he was only twenty-two years old when he was 
mentioned in the year of Van Schooten's death (1661), or 
probably only twenty-one when he, a doctissimus juvenis, and 
quondam in addiscendis, verified the theorem for his teacher. 
A careful examination of the Leyden records as set forth 
in the Album Studiosorum throws a good deal more light on 
the matter than has as yet appeared. In the first place the 
Hartsingius was adopted as a good Dutch name, it appearing 
in such various forms as Hartsing and Hartsinck, and may 
very likely have belonged to the merchant under whose 
auspices the unknown student went to Holland. In the next 
place, Hartsingius was in Holland for a long time, fifteen years 
at least, and was off and on studying in the university at 
Leyden. He is first entered on the rolls under date August 29, 
1654, as "Petrus Hartsing Japonensis. 20, P," a boy of twenty 
in the faculty of philosophy. This would have placed his birth 
in 1634 or 1635, but as we shall see, he was not very par- 
ticular as to exactness in giving his age. 2 He next appears 
on the rolls in the entry of date August 28, 1660, "Petrus 
Hartzing Japonensis, 22, M." He has now changed his course 
to medicine, and his age would now place his birth in 1638 
or 1639, four years later than stated before. Since, however, 

1 Witness, for example, the mention made by Van Schooten in the 1683 
edition (p. 385) above cited, of the assistence received from Erasmius 
Bartholinus, mathematician and physician in Copenhagen. 

2 See Album, col. 438. 

VII, Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 135 

the difficulty of language is to be considered, together with 
the fact that such records, hastily made, are apt to be in- 
exact, this is easily understood. He next appears in the 
Album under date May 6, 1669, as already sfated. He there- 
fore began in 1654, and was still at work in 1669, but he had 
not been there continuously. 

Further light is thrown upon his career by the fact that he 
was not alone in leaving Japan, perhaps about 1652. He had 
with him a companion of the same age and of similar tastes. 
In the Album, under date September 4, 1654, appears this 
entry: "Franciscus Carron Japonensis, 20, P." Within a week, 
therefore, of the first enrollment of Hartsingius, another Japanese 
of same age, and doubtless his companion in travel, registered 
in the same faculty. But while Hartsingius remained in Leyden 
for years, we hear no more of Carron. Did he die, leaving 
his companion alone in this strange land? Did he go to some 
other university? Or did he make his way back to Japan? 1 

Now who was this Petrus Hartsingius who not only braved 
death by leaving his country at a time when such an act was 
equivalent to high treason, but who was excellent as a mathe- 
matician? What ever became of him? Did he die, an unknown 
though promising student, in some part of the West, or did 
he surreptitiously find his way back to his native land? If he 
passed his days in Europe did he send any messages from 
time to time to his friends, telling them of the great world in 
which he dwelt, and in particular of the medical work and the 
mathematics of the intellectual center of Northern Europe? In 
other words, for our immediate purposes, could the mathe- 
matics of the West, or any intimation of what was being 
accomplished by its devotees, have reached Japan in Seki's 

1 SCHOTEL, G. D. ]., De Academie (e Leiden in de i6e, i?e en i8e eeuw 
Haarlem, 1875, speaks (p. 266) of Japanese students at Leyden, and a further' 
search may yield more information. We have been over the lists with much 
care from 1650 to 1670, and less carefully for a few years preceding and 
following these dates. 

136 VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

These questions are more easily asked than answered, but 
it is by no means improbable that the answers will come in 
due time. We have only recently had the problem stated, 
and the search for the solution has little more than just begun, 
while among all of the literature and traditions of the Japanese 
people it is not only possible but probable that the future 
will reveal that for which we are seeking. 

At present there is a single possible clue to the solution. 
We know that a certain physician named Hatono Soha, who 
flourished in the second half of the seventeenth century, did 
study abroad and did return to his native land. 1 Hatono was 
a member of the Nakashima 2 family, and before he went abroad 
he was known as Nakashima Chozaburo. The family was of 
the samurai class, and formerly had been retainers of the 
Lord of Choshu or of the Lord of Iwakuni,3 feudal nobles 
who had made the Nakashimas at one time abundantly wealthy, 
but who had dishonestly deprived them of much of their means 
during the infancy of two of the heirs. It was because of this 
wrong that the family had left their former home and service 
and had repaired to the island of Kyushu to seek to mend 
their fortunes. It was thus that they came to Nagasaki, and 
that the young Nakashima Chozaburo met a Dutch trader 
with whom he departed into the forbidden world beyond the 
boundaries of the empire. It would seem, now, that we ought 
to be able to ascertain the date of the departure of the young 

* For much of this information we are indebted to S. Hatono, a lineal 
descendent of the physician in question, and bearing his name. He informs 
us that the story was originally recorded in a manuscript entitled Tsuboi Idan 
which was destroyed by fire. See also ISHIGAMI, T., Hatono Soha in the 
Chiigivai Iji Shimpo, no. 369, Aug. 5, 1895; YOKOYAMA, T., A physician of 
the Dutch school who went abroad two centuries ago, and his surgical instruments 
(in Japanese), in the Kyoyuku Gakujutsu Kai, vol. 4, January 1901, (an article 
that leaves much to be desired in the matter of clearness); FUJIKAWA, Y., 
History of Japanese Medicine (in Japanese); YOKOYAMA, T., History of Education 
in Japan (in Japanese). 

2 In the eastern part of Japan this name commonly appears as Nakajima, 
but Nakashima is the preferred form. 

3 The latter was subject to the former. 

VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 137 

samurai, and to trace his wanderings, especially as he returned 
and could, at least in the secrecy of his family, have told 
his story. We are, however, quite uncertain as to any of these 
matters. His descendants have kept the tradition that his visit 
abroad was in the Manji era, and since this extended from 
1658 to 1 66 1, it included the time that Hartsingius was in 
Leyden. Tradition also says that he visited the capital of 
Namban, which at that time meant not only the Spanish 
peninsula, but the present and former colonies of Spain and 
Portugal, and which included Holland. While in this city 
he learned medicine from someone whose name resembled 
Postow or Bostow, 1 and after some years he again returned 
to Japan. 

Arrived in his own country Nakashima was in danger of 
being beheaded for his violation of the law against emigration, 
and this may have caused the journeying from place to place 
which tradition relates of him. It is more probable, however, 
that his skill as a physician rendered him immune, the officials 
closing their eyes to a violation of the law which might be 
most helpful to themselves or their families in case of sickness. 
The danger seems to have passed through the permission 
granted by the Shogun that two European physicians, Almans 
and Caspar Schambergen should be permitted to practise at 
Nagasaki. Thereupon Nakashima became one of their pupils, 
began to practise in the same city, and assumed the name 
Nakashima Soha. 

It happened that there lived at that time in the province 
of Hizen, in Kyushu, a certain daimyo who was very fond of 
a brood of pigeons that he owned. One of the pigeons having 
injured its leg, the daimyo sent for the young physician, and 
such was the skill shown by him, and so rapid was the recovery 

i We have been unable to find this name among the list of prominent 
Spanish, Portuguse, or Dutch physicians of that time, but it is not improbable 
that some reader may identify it. Is it possible lhat it refers to Adolph 
Vorstius (Nov. 23, 1597 Oct. 9, 1663) who was on the medical faculty at 
Leyden from 1624 to 1663? 

138 VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

of the bird, that in all that region Nakashima's name be- 
came known and his praises were sung. So celebrated was 
his simple exploit that the people called him Hato no as hi 2vo 
naoshita Sd/ia 1 or Hato no Solia? a name so pleasing to him 
that he thereupon adopted it and was thenceforth known as 
Hatono Soha.3 

His fame now having found its way along the Inland Sea, a 
daimyo of the Higo province, Lord Hosokawa, in due time 
called him to enter his service at Osaka, so that he left Naga- 
saki, bearing with him gifts from his masters, Almans and 
Schambergen, as well as those which Postow had presented 
when he was in Europe or in some colony of Spain, Portugal, 
or Holland. This was in i6Si, 4 and there he seems to have 
remained until his death in 1697, at the a e f fifty-six years. 
Such is the brief story of the only Japanese scholar who is 
known, though native sources, to have studied in Europe and 
to have returned to his own country at about the time that 
Petrus Hartsingius was studying mathematics and medicine in 
Leyden. If Hatono was fifty-six when he died, as the family 
records assert, he must have been born in 1641 which is a 
little too late for Hartsingius, whereas if he and Carron are 
the same, his birth is placed in 1634 or 1635, which argues 
strongly against this conjecture. 

The problem seems, therefore, to reduce to the search for 
a Doctor Postow, and to a search for some problem in the 
Japanese mathematics of the Seki school that is at the same 
time in Van Schcoten's Tractatus or in some contemporary 
treatise. Thus far we have no knowledge that Hatono knew 

1 Soha who cured the pigeon's leg. 

2 Soha of the pigeon. 

3 The name is now in the ninth generation. 

4 This is the date as it appears in the family records, as communicated 
to us by his descendant. According to T. Yokoyama, however, there is a 
manuscript in the possession of the family, signed by Deshima Ranshyu at 
Nagasaki in 1684. If this is a nom </<? plume of Hatono's as Mr. Yokoyama 
believes, he may have gone to Osaka later than 1681. 

VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 139 

any mathematics whatever. 1 If he was Hartsingius he could 
easily have communicated his knowledge to Seki or his dis- 
ciples, and if he was not it is certain that he would have 
known him if he studied in Leyden, and in any case there is 
the mysterious Franciscus Carron to be considered. 

As to Seki's contact with those who could have known the 
foreign learning, a story has long been told of his pilgrimage 
to the ancient city of Nara, then as now one of the most 
charming spots in all Japan, and still filled with evidence 
of its ancient culture. It appears that he had learned of 
certain treatises kept in one of the Buddhist temples, that 
had at one time been brought from China by the priests, 2 
which related neither to religion nor to morals nor to the 
healing art, and which no one was able to understand. No 
sooner had he opened the volumes than he found, as he had 
anticipated, that they were treatises on Chinese mathematics, 
and these he copied, taking the results of his labor back to 
Yedo. It is further related that Seki spent three years in 
profitable study of these works, but what the books were or 
what he derived from them still remains a mystery. 3 

If Seki went to Nara, the great religious center of Japan, 
as there seems no reason to doubt, he would not have failed 
to visit the great intellectual center, Kyoto, which is near there. 
Neither would he have missed Osaka, also in the same vicinity, 
where Hatono Soha was in the service of the daimyo. But 

1 Most of his manuscripts and the records of the family were burned 
some fifty years ago, and of the few that remained nearly all were destroyed 
at the siege of Kumamoto at the time of the Saigo rebellion in 1877. 

2 MIKAMI, Y., On reading P. Harzer 1 ! paper on the mathematics in Japan, 
Jahresbericht der deutschen Math. Verein., Bd. XV, p. 256. 

3 Seki may have studied the Chinese work by Yang Hui at Nara. The story 
of his visit is said to have first appeared in the Burin Inken Roku or Burin 
Kenbun Roku written by one SaitO. It was reproduced in an anonymous 
manuscript entitled Samoa Zuihitsu, possibly written by Furukawa Ken. It 
also appears in the Okinagusa written by Kamizawa Teikan. We have been 
unable to get any definite information as to the Nara books, although diligent 
inquiry has been made, but we wish to express our appreciation of the efforts 
in this direction made by Mrs. Kita (nee Mayeda) and her brother. 

I4O VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

on the other hand, Seki published the Hatsubi Sainpo in 1674, 
while Hatono did not go to Osaka until 1681, so that in any 
event Seki could solve numerical equations of a high degree 1 
before Hatono settled in his new home. Moreover the symbolism 
used by him is manifestly derived from the Chinese, 2 so that 
this part of his work shows no European influence. If Hatono 
or Hartsingius influenced Seki it must have been in the work 
in infinite series, which, as we shall see in the next chapter, 
started in his school, although more probably with his pupil 

Still another contact with the West is mentioned in a work 
called the Nagasaki Scmmin Den, in which it is stated that 
one Seki Sozaburo learned astronomy from an old scholar 
who had been to Macao and Luzon. If this is the Luzon of 
the Philippine Islands he could at that period have come in 
contact with the Jesuits, and this is very likely the case. 

Mention should also be made of another possible medium 
of communication with the West in the time of Seki. Aside 
from the evident fact that if Hatono, Hartsingius, and Carron 
ventured forth on a voyage to Europe, others whose names 
are not now remembered may have done the same, we have 
the record of two men who were in touch with Western 
mathematics. These men were Hayashi Kichizaemon, and his 
disciple Kobayashi Yoshinobu, both of them interpreters in the 
open port of Nagasaki. Each of these men knew the Dutch 
language, and each was interested in the sciences, the latter 
being well versed in the astronomy of the WesU Kobayashi 
was suspected of being a convert to Christianity, and as this 
was a period of relentless persecution of the followers of this 
religion 4 he was thrown into prison in 1646, remaining there 

1 He even hints at one of the 1458 th degree (See page 129.) 

2 Possibly obtained from Chinese works at Nara. 

3 In 1650 a Portuguese whose Japanese name was Sawano Chiian wrote 
an astronomical work in Japanese, but in Latin characters. In 1659 Nishi 
Kichibei transliterated it and it was annotated by Mukai Gensho (1609 1677) 
under the title Kenkon Benselsu. 

4 It was in 1616 that the Tokugawa Shogunate ordered the strict sup- 

VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 141 

for twenty-one years. Upon his release in 1667 he made an 
attempt to teach astronomy and the science of the calendar 
at Nagasaki, 1 though with what success is unknown, and it is 
recorded that in the year of his death, 1683, at the age of 
eighty-two, he was able to correct an error in the computation 
of an eclipse of the sun as recorded in the official calendar. 2 
Hayashi was executed in 1646. While it is probable that 
these men did not know much of the European mathematics 
of the time, it is inconceivable that they were unaware of the 
general trend of the science, and that they should fail to give 
to inquirers some hint as to the nature of this work. 

A little later than the time of Kobayashi there appeared 
still another scholar who knew the Dutch astronomy, one 
Nishikawa Joken, who was invited by the Shogun Yoshimune 
to compile the official calendar. As already stated, the latter 
was himself a dilletante in astronomy, and it was due to his 
foresight and to that of Nakane Genkei that the ban upon 
European books was raised in 1720. From this time on the 
astronomy of the West became well known in Japan, and 
scholars like Nagakubo Sekisui, Mayeno Ryotaku, Shizuki 
Tadao, Asada Goryu, and Takahashi Shiji were thoroughly 
acquainted with the works of the Dutch writers upon the 
subject. 3 

The conclusion appears from present evidence to be that 
some knowledge of European mathematics began to find its 

pression of Christianity, the result being such a bloody persecution that a 
rebellion broke out at Shimabara, not far from Nagasaki, in 1637. 

1 ENDO, Book II, p. 76. 

2 ENDO, Book II, p. 18. 

3 Mayeno is said to have also had a Dutch arithmetic in 1772, but 
the title is not known. ENDO, Book III, p. 7. On this question of the 
influence of the Dutch see HAYASHJ, T., /fay have the Japanese used the 
Dutch books imported from Holland, in the Nieuw Archiefvoor IViskunde, reeks 2, 
deel 7, 1905, p. 42; 1906, p. 39, and later, where it appears that most of the 
Dutch works known in Japan are relatively late. On the interesting history 
of the Portuguese writer known as Sawano Chiian, see MIKAMI, Y., in the 
Nieuw Archiefvoor Wiskunde, reeks 2, deel 10, and the Annals Scientificos da 
Academia Polytechnica do Porto, vol. 7. 

142 VII. Seki's contemporaries and possible Western influences. 

way into Japan in the seventeenth century; that we have 
no definite information as to the nature of this work beyond 
the fact that mathematical astronomy was part of it; that there 
is no evidence that Seki or his school borrowed their methods 
from the West; but that Japanese mathematicians of that time 
might very well have known the general trend of the science 
and the general nature of the results attained in European 

The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

Having considered the contributions of Seki concerning which 
there can be no reasonable doubt, and having touched upon 
the question of Western influence, 1 we now propose to examine 
the yenri with which his name is less positively connected. 
The word may be translated "circle principle" or "circle theory", 
the name being derived from the fact that the mensuration of 
the circle is the first subject that it treats. It may have been 
suggested by the title of the Chinese work of Li Yeh (1248), 
the Tse-yilan Hai-cJiing, in which, as we have seen (page 49), 
Tsl-yuan means "to measure the circle." Seki himself never 
wrote upon it so far as is positively known, although tradition 
has assigned its discovery to him, nor is it treated by Otaka 
Yusho in his Kivatsuyo Sampo of 1712 in connection with the 
analytic measurement of the circle. After Seki's time there 
were numerous works treating of the mere numerical measure- 
ment of the circle, such as the Taisei Sankyo,* commonly 
supposed to have been written by Takebe Kenko,3 and of 
which twenty books have come down to us out of a possible 
forty-three. 4 There is a story, generally considered as fabulous, 
told of three other books besides the twenty that are known, 
that were in possession of Mogami Tokunai 5 a century ago. 

1 The influence of the missionaries is considered later. 

2 "Complete Mathematical Treatise." 

3 So stated in a manuscript of Lord Arima's Hoyen Kiko, bearing date 1766. 

4 So stated by Oyamada Yosei in his article on the Sangaku Shuban in 
the Matsunoya Hikki, although the number is doubtful. 

5 A pupil of Honda Rimei (17551836). 

144 VI11 - The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

He stated that he procured them from one Shiono Koteki of 
Hachioji, who had learned mathematics from Someya Haru- 
fusa. Shiono recorded these facts at the end of his copy, and 
this is the bearing of the story upon Seki's secret knowledge 
of the yenri. It was Someya who gave Shiono these books, 
assuring him that they contained Seki's secret knowledge, being 
works that he had himself written. Someya had received them 
from Ishigaya Shoyeki of Kurozawa in Sagami, his aged master, 
who was a pupil of Seki's and who had received these copies 
from the latter's own hand. 

Although the story is not a new one, and seems to relate 
Seki intimately with the work, nevertheless we have no evidence 
save tradition to corroborate the statement, since the three 
volumes no longer exist, if they ever did, and the twenty that 
we know show no evidence of being Seki's work. 1 Moreover 
the treatment of TT which it contains is quite certainly not that 
of Seki, for in his Fukyu Tetsujutsu of 1722 Takebe states that 
it is not. 2 This treatment is based upon the squares of the 
perimeters of regular inscribed polygons from 4 to 512, n 2 
being taken as the square of the perimeter of the 512-gon, 

9.86960 44010 89358 61883 449 i 998/4 7- 

Seki, on the contrary, calculated the successive perimeters 
instead of their squares. Takebe claims to have carried his 
process far enough to give TT to upwards of forty decimal 
places by considering only a iO24-gon, and he gives it as 

71 = 3.14159 26535 89793 23843 26433 83279 50288 41971 2.3 

He then uses continued fractions to express this value, stating 
that this plan is due to his brother Takebe Kemmei, and that 

1 It should be stated, however, that ENDO (Book II, p. 41) believes, and 
with excellent reason, that they were taken from Seki's own writings and 
were put into readable form by Takebe. See also MIKAMI, Y., A Question 
on Seki's Invention of the Circle- Principle, in the Tokyo Sugaku-Buturigakkivai 
A'izi, Book IV (2), no. 22, p. 442, and also his article on the yenri in Book V (2). 

2 MS., article 10. 

3 He must, however, have gone beyond the TO24-gon for this. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 145 

Seki had used only the method given in the Kzvatsuyo Sampo, 
all of which tends to throw doubt upon Seki's connection with 
this treatise. 

The successive fractions obtained for TT by taking the con- 
vergents of the continued fraction are 

3 22 



i' 7 

' 106 ' 



33215 ' 

66317 ' 



i 146408 



265381 ' 

364913 ' 

1360120 ' 

most of which are not found in any work with which we can 
clearly connect Seki's name. 

Still another reason for doubting Seki's relation to this phase 
of the work is seen in the method of measuring a circular arc. 
In the Taisci Sankyo the squares of the arcs are used instead 
of the arcs themselves, as in the case of the circle. Some 
idea of the work of this period may be obtained from the 
formula given: 

(4877315687^ + 2 1 309475994* 4 A 2 + 23945445808^4 
+ 5 1 7074 1 462 /i 6 )a* 

= 4877515687 8 + 4732289365 3 6 /<: 2 + 151469740022^/2* 
+ 174277533560^^+ 503 19088000 A 8 , 

where c = chord, h = height of arc (from the center of the 
chord to the center of the arc), 1 and a = length of arc. This 
formula resembles one that appears in the Kwatsnyo Sampo, 
and one that is in Takebe's Kenki Sampo of 1683. All these 
formulas seem due to Seki. 

Some idea of the Taisei Sankyo having been given, together 
with some reasons for doubting the relation of Seki to it, we 
shall now speak of -the author, Takebe, and of his other works, 
and of his use of the ycnri, setting forth his testimony as to 
any possible relation of Seki to the method. 

1 Which we shall hereafter call the height of the arc, the older word 
sagilta being no longer in common use. 


146 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

Takebe Hikojiro Kenko 1 was one of three brothers who 
displayed a taste for mathematics 2 and who studied under Seki. 
He was descended from an ancient family, his father Takebe 
Chokuko being a shogunate samurai. He was born in Yedo 
(Tokyo) in the sixth month of 1664, and while still a youth 
became a pupil of Seki, and, as it turned out, his favorite and 
most distinguished one.3 

Takebe was only nineteen years of age when he published 
the Kenki Sampo (1683). Two years later (1685) there ap- 
peared his commentary on Seki's Hatsubi Sampo (of 1674), 
and in 1690 he wrote the seven books of his notes on the 
Suan-hsiao Clii-meng which appeared in his edition of this work,* 
explaining the sangi method of solving numerical equations. In 
1703 he was made a shogunate samurai and served as an 
official in the department of ceremonies. In 1719 he drew a 
map of Japan, upon which he had been working for four years, 
and which for its accuracy and for the delicacy of his work 
was looked upon as a remarkable achievement. This and his 
vast range of scientific knowledge served to command the 
admiration and respect of Yoshimune, the eighth of the To- 
kugawa shoguns, who called upon him for advice with respect 
to the calendar and who consulted him upon matters relating 
to astronomy, a subject in which each took a deep interest. 
He at once pointed out certain errors in the official calendar, 
and recommended as court astronomer Nakane Genkei, for 
whom and for himself Yoshimune built an observatory in 

1 His given name Kenko appears as Katahiro in the Hakuseki Shinsho 
written by Aral Hakuseki (1657 1725), his contemporary, and is so given 
in some of the histories. It is possible too that the family name Takebe 
should be Tatebe, as given by ENDO, OKAMUTO, and others of the old 
Japanese school, although the former is usually given. 

2 The other brothers were his seniors and were called Kenshi and Kemmei, 
also known as Katayuki and Kataaki. 

3 KAWAKITA, C., Honcho Siigaku Shiryo (Materials for the Mathematical 
History of Japan), pp. 63 66, this being based upon Furukawa Ujikiyo's 
writings. See also Kuichi Sanjin's article in the Sugaku Hochi. 

4 This Chinese algebra appeared in 1299. The Japanese edition is 
mentioned in Chapter IV. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 147 

the castle where he dwelt So liberal minded was this 
shogun that he removed the prohibition upon the importation 
of foreign treatises upon medicine and astronomy, so that from 
this time on the science of the West was no longer under 
the ban. 

The infirmities of age began to tell upon Takebe in 1733 
so much as to lead him to resign his official position, and six 
years later, on the twentieth day of the seventh month of the 
year 1739, he passed away at the age of seventy-five years. 

The work of Takebe's with which we are chiefly concerned 
was written in 1722, and was entitled Fukyu Tetsujutsu, Fukyu 
being his nom de plume, and Tetsujutsu being the Japanese 
form of the title of a Chinese work written by Tsu Ch'ung-chi 
(430 501) in the fifth century. This Chinese work is now 
lost, but it treated of the mensuration of the circle, 1 and for 
this reason there is an added interest in the use of its name 
in a work upon the yenri. 

Takebe states 2 that Seki was wont to say that calculations 
relating to the circle were so difficult that there could be no 
general method of attack. Indeed he says that Seki was averse 
to complicated theories, while he himself took such delight in 
minute analysis that he finally succeeded in his efforts at the 
quadrature of the circle. It would thus appear that the yenri 
was not the product of Seki's thought, but rather of Takebe's 
painstaking labor. Moreover the plan followed by Takebe in 
finding the length of an arc is not the same as the one given 
in the Kwatsuyo Sampo in which Otaka Yusho (1712) sets 
forth Seki's methods, though it has some resemblance to that 
given in the Taisei Sankyo which, as we have seen, Takebe 
may have written in his younger days when he was more 
under Seki's influence. 

1 As we know from Wei Chi's Records of the Sui Dynasty, a work written 
in the seventh century. It was possibly a treatise on the calendar in which 
the circle was considered incidentally. See MIKAMI, Y., in the Proceedings 
of the Tokyo Math. Phys, Society, October, 1910. 

2 Article 8 of his treatise. 


148 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

Takebe takes a circle of diameter 10 and finds the square 
of half an arc of height o.oooooi to be a number expressed 
in our decimal system as 

o.ooooo ooooo 33333 35111 11225 39690 66667 28234 
77694 79595 875 + , 

but he gives us no complete explanation as to how this was 
obtained. 1 Now since the squares of the halves of arcs of 
heights i, o.i, and o.ooooi, respectively, have for their ap- 
proximate values 10, i, and o.oooi, it will be observed that 
these are the products of the diameter and the heights of the 
arcs. He therefore takes dh, the product of the diameter and 
height, as the first approximation to the square of half an arc. 
He then compares this approximation with the ascertained 

value and takes his first difference D r as h 2 . Proceeding in 
a similar manner he finds the second difference D 2 to be 

h 8 

- Z> t , and so on for the successive differences. The 
result is the formula 

4 a 3 d 15 T d ' 14 

h 32 h 25 n 

h ~d' ~47' ** *' 33 4 

In other words, he has 

which expresses in a series the square of arc sin x in terms 
of versin x. 

This series is convenient enough when h is sufficiently small, 
but it is difficult to use when k is relatively large. Takebe 

1 He states that the particulars are set forth in two manuscripts, the 
Yenritsit (Calculation of the Circle) and Koritsu (Calculation of the Circular 
Arc), but these manuscripts are now lost. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 149 

therefore developed another series to be used in these cases, 
as follows: 

JL a * = dh + - h* + . -*- A - -A -L . A 

4 3 d h 15 </ >4 14 

</-/4 15 ,/_^ 39 s 

He also gives a third series which he, possibly following Seki, 
derives from the value of // =0.00000 oooi, as follows: 

!-< + -U-+JL-- _. A 

3 IS d *-h 



980 6743008 


26176293 1419 

Takebe's method of finding the surface of a sphere is the 
same as that given in the revised edition of Isomura's Ketsugisho 
save that it is carried to a closer degree of approximation. 
As bearing upon Seki's work it should be noted that Takebe 
states that the former disdained to follow this method, preferring 
to consider the center as the vertex of a cone of which the 
altitude equals the radius, showing again that Takebe was quite 
independent of his master. 

Not only does Takebe use infinite series in the manner 
already shown, but in another of his works he does so in a 
still more interesting fashion. This work has come down to 
us in manuscript under the title Yenri Tetsnjntsn or Yenri 
Kokai-jiitsu? In this he considers the following problem: In 
a segment of a circle the two chords of the semi-arc are drawn, 
after which arcs are continually bisected and chords are drawn. 
The altitude of half the given arc then satisfies the equation 

- dh + 4 dx 4 x* =? o, 

where d= diameter, h = altitude of the given arc, x altitude 
of half of this arc. This equation Takebe proceeds to solve 

1 Literally, The circle principle, or Method of finding the arc of a circle. 

150 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

by expressing the value of x in the form of a series, expanded 
according to a process which he calls Kijo Kyftshd jutsu? 

From this expansion Takebe derives a general formula for 
the square of an arc, which he gives substantially as follows: 

- - ,/// 22. 4 


4 ~ 3 . 4-5-6. .. 


2 " Hl 

a result that had previously been obtained in the Fukyii 
Tetsujutsu of I/22. 2 

The analysis leading to this formula, which is too long to 
be given here and which is obscure at best, is the ycnri 
or Circle Principle, and it at once suggests two questions: 
(i) What is its value? (2) Who was its discoverer? 

As to each of these questions the answer is difficult. In the first 
place, Takebe does not state with lucidity his train of reason- 
ing, and we are unable to say how he bridged certain diffi- 
culties that seem to have stood in his way. He gives us results 
instead of a principle, an isolated formula instead of a powerful 
method. To be sure his formula has, as we shall see, some 
interesting applications, as have also many formulas of the 
calculus; but here is only one formula, obscurely derived, whereas 
the calculus is a theory from which an indefinite number of 
formulas may be derived by lucid reasoning. We are there- 
fore constrained to say that, from any evidence offered by 
Takebe, the yenri is simply the interesting, ingenious, rather 
obscure method of deriving a formula capable of being applied 
in several ways, but that it is in no more comparable to the 
European calculus, even as it existed in the time of Seki, 
than is Archimedes's method of squaring the parabola, while 
the method is stated 'with none of the lucidity of the great 

1 Literally, Method of deriving the root by divisions. 

2 See page 148, above. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 151 

But taking it for what it is worth, who invented the yenri? 
The greatest of Japanese historians of mathematics, Endo, is 
positive that it was Seki. He sets forth the reasons for his 
belief as follows: 1 "The inventions of the tenzan algebra and 
of the yenri were made early [in the renaissance of Japanese 
mathematics], but certain scholars do not attribute the latter 
to Seki for the reason that it is not mentioned in the Kwatsuyo 
Sampo. Such a view of the question is, however, entirely 
unwarranted. At that period even the tenzan algebra was kept 
a profound secret in Seki's school, never being revealed to the 
uninitiated. It was on this account that not even the tenzan 
algebra was treated in the Kwatsuyo Sampo, and hence there 
is little cause for wonder that the yenri has no place there. 
It is stated, however, that the value of IT is slightly less than 
3.14159265359. Now unless the correct value were known 
[to this number of decimal places] how would this fact have 
been evident? . . . The process given in this work being 
restricted to the inscription of polygons, there was no means 
of knowing how many digits are correct. Nevertheless the 
author was correct in his statement as to how many decimal 
places are exact, and so it would seem that he must already 
have known the correct value to more decimal places [than 
were used] in order to make his comparison. The original 
source of information was certainly one of Seki's writings, 
perhaps the same as that used by Takebe in his subsequent 

While Endo's argument thus far is not conclusive, since Seki 
may have found the value of TT by the older process, or may 
have obtained it from the West, nevertheless it must be granted 
that, as Takebe assures us, he did know it to more than twenty 

Endo continues: "In the Kyoho era (1716 1736) Seki's 
adopted son, Shinshichi, was dismissed from office and was 
forced to live under Takebe's care. It was at this juncture 
that Takebe, in consultation with him, entered upon a study 

2 ENDO, Book II, pp. 55, 56. 

152 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

of Seki's most secret writing on the yenri as applied to the 
rectification of a circular arc, after which he completed his 
manuscript entitled Yenri Kohai Tetsujutsu" ? He continues 2 by 
saying that Shinshichi was dismissed from office in the Shogunate 
in 1735 because of his dissolute character, so that we thus 
have a date which will serve as a limit for such communication 
as may have taken place. He asserts that Seki's adopted son 
now gave to Takebe the secret writings of his father, written 
in the Genroku era (1688 1704) or earlier, and it was through 
their study that Takebe came to elaborate the yenri. Endo 
thinks that Takebe did not enter upon this work before the 
dismissal of Seki's adopted son in 1735 at which time he was 
already an old man.3 

Now it .is evident that this view of the case is not wholly 
correct, for Takebe gives the same series in his Fukyu Tetsujntsu 
in 1722. Moreover, he must have been acquainted with that 
form of analysis because there is extant a manuscript compiled 
in 1728 by one Oyama (or Awayama) Shokei 4 entitled Yenri 
Hakki which is quite like the Yenri Kohai-jutsu in its main 
features, although the work is not so minutely carried out, in 
spite of its gain in simplicity. 

For example, the square of the arc is given in a series which 
is substantially the same as the one already assigned to Takebe. 
Oyama's rule may be put in modern form as follows: 


From this series he derives the value of TT by writing h= 

1 ENDO, Book II, p. 74. 

2 Ibid., pp. 8 1, 82. 

3 His reasons are not clear. Professor T. HAYASHI, in his article in the 
Honchd Sugaku Koenshu, 1908, pp. 33 36, makes out a strong case for Seki 
as the discoverer of the yenri. 

4 Possibly Tanzan SkSkei. The writer of the preface of the work, Hachiya 
Teisho, may have been this same person. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 153 

and taking four times the result. He also finds it by taking 
h = d, the result being 

7T' = 4 [] 

Oyama, the author of the Yenri Hakki, was a pupil of Kuru 
Juson, who had studied under Seki, but the theory is not given 
as in any way connected with the latter. In one of the two 
prefaces Nakane Genkei, a pupil of Takebe's, says: "The most 
difficult problem having to do with numbers is the quadrature 
of the circle. On this account it is that we have the various 
results of the different mathematicians. ... It is now a century 
since the dawn of learning in our country, and during this 
period divers discoveries have been made. Of these the most 
remarkable one is that of Takebe of Yedo. For several decades 
he has pursued his studies with such zeal that oftimes he has 
forgotten his need of food and sleep. In the spring of 1722 
he was at last rewarded by brilliant success, for then it was 
that he came upon the long-sought formula for the circle. 
Since then he has shown his result to divers scholars, all of 
whom were struck with amazement, and all of whom cried 
out, 'Human or divine! This drives away the clouds and 
darkness and leaves only the blue sky!' And so it may be 
said that he is the one man in a thousand years, the light 
of the Land of the Rising Sun!" 

The second preface is by Hachiya Kojuro Teisho, and he 
too gives the credit to Takebe. He says, "The circle principle 
is a perfect method, never before known in ancient or in 
modern times. It is a method that is eternal and unchange- 
able ... It is the true method, constructed first by the genius 
of Takebe Kenko, and before him anticipated neither in Japan 
nor in China. It is so wonderful that Takebe should have made 
such a valuable discovery that it is only natural to look upon 
him as divine. For years have I studied under Seki's pupil 
Kuru Juson, and have labored long upon the problem of the 
quadrature of the circle, but only of late have I learned of 

154 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

Takebe's discovery, and I shall be happy if this work, which 
I have written, may initiate my fellow mathematicians into the 
mysteries of the problem." 

It would seem from the last sentence that Hachiya may have 
been the real author of the work, and that Oyama Shokei and 
Hachiya may have been the same person. In any case, however, 
the evidence is clear that his contemporaries proclaimed Takebe 
the discoverer of the yenri, and there seems to have been none 
to challenge this award. There is no contemporary statement 
like this that connects the principle with Seki, and until there 
is stronger evidence than mere conjecture such honor as is 
due should be bestowed upon Takebe. 

But where did Takebe get this formula for # 2 ? His explan- 
ation of his own development is very obscure. Did he himself 
understand it, or had he the formula and did he explain it as 
far as his ingenuity allowed: That there is a close resemblance 
between this formula and such series as one finds in looking 
over the works of Wallis I is evident. The series seems, however, 
to have been given by Pierre Jartoux, a Jesuit missionary, 
resident in Peking. This Jartoux was born in 1670 and went 
to China in 1700, dying there Nov. 30, 1720. He was a man 
of all-round intelligence, 2 and his Observations astrononiiqucs, 
published two years after his death, showed some ability. He 
also worked with Pere Regis on the great map of China. But 
our interest in Jartoux lies chiefly in the fact that he was in 
correspondence with Leibnitz, as is shown by the publication 

1 Our attention is called to this fact by P. HARZER, Die exakten Wissen- 
schaften im alien Japan, in the Jahresbericht der deutschen Mathemat. Vcrcin., 
Bd. 14, Heft 6. A search through Wallis fails, however, to reveal this series, 
although the analogy to this work is evident. See, for example, WALLIS, J., 
De Algebra Tractatus, Oxoniae, 1693, cap. XCVI. The attention of readers 
is invited to the desirability of ascertaining if this series was already known 
in Europe. 

2 His report, Details sur le Ging-seng, et snr la recolte de cette plante, published 
in Europe in 1720, was the best one upon the subject that had appeared in 
the West up to that time. Indeed it is for this report that he was best 
known there. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 155 

of his Observationes Macularum Solarium Pekino missae ad 
G. W. Leibnitium in the Acta Eruditorum? 

Here then is a scholar, Jartoux, in correspondence with 
Leibnitz, giving a series not difficult of deduction by the cal- 
culus, which series Takebe uses and which is the essence 
of the yenri, but which Takebe has difficulty in explaining, 
and which he might easily have learned through that inter- 
course of scholars that is never entirely closed. There is a 
tradition that Jartoux gave nine series, 2 of which three were 
transmitted to Japan, ^ and it seems a reasonable conjecture 
that Western learning was responsible for his work, that he 
was responsible for Takebe's series, and that Takebe explained 
the series as best he could. 

The knowledge of Takebe's work was the signal for the 
appearance of various treatises upon the yenri besides that of 
Oyama, and while they add nothing of importance to the 
theory or to its history, mention should be made of a few. 
The one that was the most highly esteemed in the Seki school 
of mathematicians was the Kenkon no Maki* a work of unknown 
authorship. s Not only is the author unknown, but the work 
itself is apparently no longer extant in its original form. 6 The 

1 In 1705, p. 485. 

2 Professor Hayashi thinks that Jartoux did not give nine series, but that 
he gave six, and that these were obtained by Ming An-tu whose work was 
completed by his pupils after his death, and published in 1774. Among 
these six is Takebe's series. Proceedings of the Tokyo Math. Phys. Soc., 
1910 (in Japanese). 

3 These three appear in Mei Ku-cheng's book, but the date is unknown 
and there is no evidence that it reached Japan in this period. 

4 Literally, The Rolls of Heaven and Earth. 

5 ENDO thinks that it was written by Matsunaga; see his History, Book II, 
p. 84. P. HARZER thinks the author was Yatnaji; see the Jahresbericht der 
deutschen Morgenl. Ver., Bd. 14, p. 317. C. KAWAKITA thinks it was Araki, 
and in FUKUDA'S Sampd Tamatebako (1879) the same opinion is expressed. 

6 A manuscript bearing this title was found in a private library at Sendai, 
in the possession of a former pupil of Yamaji, but N. OKAMOTO, who has 
investigated the matter, believes that it is quite different from the original 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

process followed in developing the formula for a 2 is simpler 
than that used by Takebe in his Yenri Kohai-jutsu and rather 
resembles that of Oyama. 

The unknown author finds that the altitudes for the successive 
arcs formed by doubling the number of chords are 

+ _L (*.} *- 


/Ay , 

W/ J' 

.L, ,_!_ 

64 7/ L 64 W 

4 . 6 ,/ 4.6.8 

s- 21 /^\ z 5.21.143 

16:40 l7) + 1640.224 

iiii /Ay + 4_i7j7j /Ay j 

64.32 W/ +64.32.896 W/ J' 

these being calculated by the tetsujutsu process, or the actual 
expansion of the terms of the equations, although the calcul- 
ations themselves are not given. The ratios of the successive 
coefficients are seen to be 

I -3 


5.7 7.9 9.11 n.1.3 13.15 


5-6 ' 

7.8 ' 9.10 ' 11.12' 13 14' 15.16' 



11.13 15.17 19.21 23.25 27.29 

6.8 ' 

10. 12 

14.16' 18.20' 22.24' 26.28' 30.32' 



23-25 31-33 39-41 47.49 55.57 



28.32' 36.40' 44.48 52.56 60.64 

Hence the *#th ratio for h r is of the form 

(km I) (km + 1) 2 (kz m* i) 


where k = 2 r , and as k becomes infinite this reduces to 


We therefore have the limit to which h is approaching, and 
we can compute the square of the arc as before. This is the 
plan as stated in the Sendai manuscript, the only one which 
it seems safe to use, even though the manuscript is evidently 
not like the lost original. 1 

1 ENDO, Book II, pp. 84 90, gives a different treatment, resembling that 
found in the Kohai no Ri. None of the leading mathematicians of the 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 157 

There is some little testimony in favor of Seki's authorship 
of the Kenkon no Maki, although the presumption is entirely 
against it. Thus in an anonymous work entitled Kigenkai or 
Yenri Kenkon S/w, a note by Furukawa Ujikiyo relates the 
following: "This book is a writing of Seki Kowa and has long 
been kept a profound secret. No one into whose hands it has 
come was entitled to assume the role of Seki's successor. Hence 
Fujita Sadasuke treasured the work, and copied it upon two 
rolls which he called Kenkon no Maki* revealing it only to his 
son and to his most celebrated pupil. All this has been told 
me by Shiraishi Chdchu." The probabilities are that some 
parts of the work were simply an ancient paraphrase of Otaka 
Yusho's Kwatsuyo Sampo, and being thus of the Seki school 
it was attributed to the master. Whether or not it was the 
original Kenkon no Maki is unknown. However that may be, 
it extends the yenri to include the analytic treatment of the 
volume of a spherical segment of one base of diameter a, by 
a method not unlike that of Cavalieri. The segment is divided 
into n thin layers of diameters d^, d 2 , ... d n , where d, t =a. 

72 f j kh. kh 

a , = 4 (a ) , 

k n ' n ' 

where d = diameter of the sphere, and h = altitude of the 
segment. Summing for k = I, 2, 3, . . . u, we have 

y d *4*.jk- k - y*. 

Z-i k * n jLt 2 /-i 

i i i 

_ 4dA n -f- 2 4^ 2 + 3 2 -f-25 
n 2 n* 6 

Multiplying this by -- and by , we have the approximate 
volume of the spherical segment, 

latter part of the nineteenth century received the Kenkon no Maki (possibly 
another name for the Kohai no Ri) from their teachers, as Uchida Gokan 
told N. OKAMOTO and as we are assured by T. HAGIWARA. 
1 See page 155, note 4. 

158 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 


of which the limit for n = is 

The same general method appears in the writings of Matsunaga, 
Yamaji, and others. 

It has already been stated that Isomura and Takebe found 
the spherical surface by means of the difference of volumes 
of two concentric spheres. In this work the same thing is 
done for the surface of an ellipsoid. The volume of the solid 

is given as ,. > but with no proof. Another ellipsoid is taken 

with axes a + 2k and b + 2k, and the difference of their 
volumes is divided by k, giving 

(-tab + b* + 2ak + $bk + 4/ 2 ), 


the limit of which, for k = o, is 

y (2 ad + b*}. 

This treatment is an improvement upon that of Isomura and 
Takebe because it is general rather than numerical. We there- 
fore have here a further development of the yenri, in which 
it takes on a little more of the nature of the Western calculus, 
but still in only a narrow fashion. 

In the same way, little by little, some progress was made 
in the use of infinite series. Takebe's series for the circular 
arc appears again in 1739 in a work entitled Hoy en Sankyd? 
written by Matsunaga Ryohitsu, 2 who received the secrets of 
the Seki school from Araki, under whom he had studied. The 
Araki-Matsunaga school, while it started under a less brilliant 
leader than the school of Takebe, became the more prosperous 

1 Literally, Mathematical Treatise on Polygons and Circles. 

2 His former name was Terauchi Gompei. He is also known as Matsunaga 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 159 

as time went on, and seems to have inherited most of Seki's 
manuscripts. Araki, indeed, gave the name to Seki's Seven 
Books, 1 and upon his death in 17 18, 2 at the age of seventy- 
eight, he could look back upon intimate associations with the 
mathematics of the past, and upon the renaissance in the labors 
of Seki, and could anticipate a fruitful future in the promise 
of Matsunaga. 

Matsunaga was born at Kurume in Kyushu, or possibly in 
Terauchi in Awari. His given name being Terauchi Gompei, 
we find some of his works signed with the name Terauchi. 
He served under Naito Masaki, Lord of Taira in Iwaki and 
afterward Lord of Nobeoka in Kyushu, himself no mean mathe- 
matician. Indeed it was he whose insistence led Matsunaga to 
adopt the name tenzan for the Japanese algebra, replacing the 
name Kigen seiho as used by Seki. Matsunaga was a prolific 
writer 3 and it is to him that the perpetuation of the doctrines 
of the master, under the title "School of Seki", was due. He 
died in the sixth month of 1744.* 

In the statutes of the school of Seki, as laid down by him, 
the work was arranged in five classes, Seki himself having 
arranged it in three. The two upper classes were termed 
Betsnden and Inka, 5 the latter covering Seki's Seven Books, 
and being open only to one son of the head of the school 
and to two of the most promising pupils. These three initiates 
were required to take a blood oath of secrecy, 6 and still further 

1 The Seki-ryu Shichibtisho, published at Tokyo as a memorial volume on 
the two hundredth anniversary of Seki's death. See also ENDO, Book II, 
p. 42. There is some doubt as to the titles of the seven books. 

a C. KAWAKITA in the Honcho Siigaku Koenshu, p. I. 

3 His works include the following: Danti Shosa (1716), Embi Empi Ryo- 
jutsu (1735), Horo Yosan, Hoyen Sankyo (1739), Hoyen Zassan, Kaiko Un-o 
(1747, posthumous), AT/'o Tokusho, Sampo S'Ausei, Sampd Tetsujulsu. 

4 As stated in a manuscript by Hagiwara. 

5 These names may possibly mean "Special Instruction" and "Revealed 
by Swearing." One who completed these classes received the two diplomas 
known as Belsuden-menkyo and Inka-menkyo. 

6 ENDO, Book II, p. 82 seq. On the five diplomas see also HAYASHI, T., 
The Fukitdai and Determinants in Japanese Mathematics, in the Tokyo STigakii- 

l6o VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

analogy to the ancient Pythagorean brotherhood is seen in the 
mysticism of the founder. Matsunaga writes 1 as Pythagoras 
might have done: "Reason is determinate, but Spirit wanders 
in the realm of change. Where Reason dwelleth, there is 
Number found; and wheresoever Spirit wanders, there Number 
journeys also. Spirit liveth, but Reason and Number are 
inanimate, and act not of their own accord. The way whereby 
we attain to Number is called The Art. Heaven is independent, 
but wherever there are things there is Number. Things, 
Number, these are found in nature. What oppresses the 
high and exalts the humble; what takes from the strong and 
gives to the weak; what causes plenty here and a void there; 
what shortens that which is long and lengthens that which is 
short; what averages up the excess with the defect, this is 
the eternal law of Nature. All arts come from Nature, and 
by the Will alone they cannot exist." 

Matsunaga's Hoyen Sankyo is composed of five books, and 
is devoted entirely to formulas for the circumference and 
arcs of a circle, no analyses appearing. 2 His first series is as 

J^ = T +-1L.+ l *' 22 4- T2 ' 22 -3 2 , . 
9 3-4 3-4-S-6. 7-8 

This is followed by 

?L == i + _!!_ + I2 '3 2 , 1 ^3M1_ . , . 
3 4.6 

a series which is then employed for the evaluation of TT to 
fifty figures. The result is the following: 
71=3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 
69399 5751- 

Buturigakkwai Kizi, vol. V (2), no. 5, 1910. Yamaji seems to have revealed 
the secrets to three besides his son. 

1 Hoyen Sankyo, 1739. This work may have been closely connected with 
the anonymous Kohai Shokai. 

2 We are informed by N. OKAMOTO that Uchida Gokan used to say that 
the original manuscripts containing the analyses were burned purposely after 
the work was finished. Matsunaga's Hoyen Zassan (Miscellany concerning 
Regular Polygons and the Circle) is now unknown. 

VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. l6l 

The same value is given in the Hoyen Kiko, written by Lord 
Arima in 1766, together with the numerical calculations involved. 
The value was first actually printed in the SJiTiki Sampo, written 
by Arima under an assumed name, in 1769. 

Matsunaga next gives Takebe's series for the square of an 
arc, 1 this being followed by three series for the length of an 
arc a with chord c as follows: 

.4/AY 2.4.6/A\3 

W +3:5:7(7) 

-^fi .(*\_. 2 (AY_ 2 -4 f*v_ ..1 
~L s V77 3.5^" s^yw J 

The series for the altitude // in terms of the arc is 

2 Zd V ' (2)! 

and for the chord c it is 

03 a5 a 7 

~ 2.3^+ 2.3.475^4 ~^ ' 

which is at once seen to be a form of the series for sin a. 2 
The area s of a circular segment is given as 

s 13 

where c = chord of the arc, d = diameter of the circle, and 
h = height of the segment. 

Matsunaga also gives some interesting formulas for com- 
puting the radius x of a circle circumscribed about a regular 
polygon of n sides, one side being s, and for computing the 

1 Which appeared in the Yenri Kohai-jutsu and the Fnkyu Te/su-ju/su of 
Takebe and the Yenri Hakki of Oyama. 

2 These two series appear in the Shuki Sampo. 

3 The above series are given in the Hoyen Sankyb, Book I. 

1 1 

1 62 VIII. The Yenri or Circle Principle. 

He also gives J formulas for the side of the inscribed polygon 
in terms of the diameter of the circle, for the various diagonals, 
for the lines joining the mid-points of the diagonals and the 
various vertices or the mid-points of the sides, 2 and so on, 
none of which it is worth while to consider in a work of this 

It will be seen that the yenri as laid down by Takebe was 
extended to include solid figures treated somewhat after the 
manner of Cavalieri, but that it was little more than a rather 
primitive method of using infinite series in the measurement 
of the simplest curvilinear figures and the sphere. We 
shall see, however, that it gradually unfolds into something 
more elaborate, but that it never becomes a great method, 
remaining always a set of ingenious devices. 

1 Hoyen Sankyo, Book III. 

2 Lines known as the Kyomen-shi. 

The eighteenth Century. 

We have already spoken of the closing labors of Seki Kowa, 
who died in 1708, and of Takebe Kenko and Araki, and in 
Chapter X we shall speak of Ajima Chokuyen. There were 
many others, however, who contributed to the progress of 
mathematics from the time when Takebe made the yenri known 
to the days when Ajima gave a new impulse to the science, 
and of these we shall speak in this chapter. Concerning some 
of them we know but little, and concerning certain others a 
brief mention of their works will suffice. Others there are, 
however, who may be said to have done a work that was to 
that of Seki what the work of D'Alembert and Euler was to that 
of Newton. That is to say, the periods in Japan and Europe 
were somewhat analogous in a relative way, although the 
breadth of the work in the two parts of the world was not 
on a par. In some respects the period immediately following 
Seki was, save as to Takebe's work, one of relative quiet, of 
the gathering up of. the results that had been accomplished 
and of putting them into usable form, or of solving problems 
by the new methods. In the history of mathematics such a 
period usually and naturally follows an era of discovery. 

So we have Nishiwaki Richyu publishing his Sampo Tengen 
Roku in 1714, setting forth in simple fashion the "celestial 
element" and the ycndan algebra. 1 In 1722 Man-o Tokiharu 
published his Kiku Bunto S/in, in which he treated, among 
other topics, the spiral. In 1715 Hozumi Yoshin published his 

1 ENDU, Book II, pp. 57, 59. 


1 64 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

Kagaku Sampo, the usual type of problem book. In 1716 
Miyake Kenryu published a similar work, the Guivo Sampo. 
He also wrote the Sliojutsu Sangaku Znye, of which an edition 
appeared in 1795 (Fig. 32). In this he seems to have had 
some idea of the prismatoid (Fig. 33). In 1718 Ogino Nobu- 
tomo wrote a work, the Kiku Gempo Chokcn, that has come 
down to us in nine books in manuscript form, a very worthy 

Fig. 32. From Miyake Kenryu's Shojutsu Sangaku Zuye (1795 edition). 

general treatise. Inspired by Hozumi Yoshin's work, Aoyama 
Riyei published his Cliugaku Sampo in 1719, solving the 
problems of the Kagaku Sampo and proposing others. These 
latter were solved in turn by Nakane Genjun in his Kanto 
Sampo (1738), by Nakao Seisei in his Sangaku Bemmo, and 
by Iriye Shukei in his Tangen Sampo (1759). Mention should 
also be made of an excellent work by Murai Mashahiro, the 
RyocJii SJiinan, of which the first part appeared in 1732. The 
work was a popular one and did much to arouse an interest 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

i6 5 

L k&VS#H 
A g*f|5f$i 

r^'ftS ^|?^ 

- 33- From Miyake Kenryu's Shojulsu Sangaku Zuye (1795 edition). 

1 66 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

in the new mathematics. The problems proposed by Nakane 
Genjun were answered by Kamiya Hotei in his Kaisho Sampo 
(1743), by Yamamoto Kakuan in his Sanzui, and by others. 
To the same style of mathematics were devoted Yamamoto's 
Yokyoku Sampo (1745) and Keiroku Sampo (1746), Takeda 
Saisei's Sembi Sampo (1746), Imai Kentei's Meigen Sampo 
(1764), and various other similar works, but by the close of 
the eighteenth century in Japan, as elsewhere, this style of 
book lost caste as representing a lower form of science than 
that in which the best type of mind found pleasure. Mention 
should also be made of Baba Nobutake's Shogaku Tcnmon of 
1706, a well-known work on astronomy, that exerted no little 
influence at this period (Fig. 34). 

Of the writers of this general class one of the best was 
Nakane Genjun (1701 1761), whose Kanto Sampo (1738) 
attracted considerable attention. His father, Nakane Genkei 
(1 66 1 1733), was born in the province of Omi, and studied 
under Takebe. He was at one time an office holder, but in 
earlier years he practiced as a physician at Kyoto. His taste 
led him to study mathematics and astronomy as well, and he 
seems to have been a worthy instructor for his son, who thus 
received at second hand the teachings of Seki's greatest pupil. 
Some interesting testimony to his standing as a scholar is 
given in a story related of a certain feudal lord of the 
Kyoho period (1716 1736), who asked a savant, one Shinozaki, 
who were his most celebrated contemporaries. Thereupon 
the savant replied: "Of philosophers, the most celebrated are 
Ito Jinsai and Ogyu Sorai; of astronomers, Nakane Genkei 
and Kurushima Kinai; 1 in calligraphy, Hosoi Kotaku and 
Tsuboi Yoshitomo ; in Shintoism, Nashimoto of Komo ; in poetry 
Matsuki Jiroyemon; and .as an actor, Ichikawa Danjyuro. Of 
these, Nakane is not only versed in astronomy, but he is 
eminent in all branches of learning." 2 

Nakane the Elder also published several astronomical works, 

1 Or Kurushima Yoshita. 

* K. KANO'S article in the Honcho Sitgaku Koenshu, 1908, p. II. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

I6 7 

Fig. 34. From Baba Nobutake's Shogaku Tenmon (1706). 

and composed a treatise in which a new law of musical 
melodies was set forth. 1 Through the Chinese works and the 

1 This was the Ritsugen Hakki, a work on the description of measures. 

l68 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

writings and translations of the Jesuit missionaries in China 
he was familiar with the European astronomy, and he re- 
cognized fully its superiority over the native Chinese theory. He 
was prominent among those who counseled the Shogun Yoshi- 
mune to remove the prohibition against the importation and 
study of foreign books, and by order of the latter he is said to 
have translated Mei Wen-ting's Li-suan Ch'iian-shu.' 1 In 1711 he 
was given a post in the mint at Osaka, and in 1721 became con- 
nected with the preparation of the official calendar. 2 In pure 
mathematics he wrote but one work that was published, the 
Shichijo Beki Yenshiki? although by all testimony he was an 
able mathematician. One of his solutions, appearing in Takebe's 
Fukyn Tetsu-jutsu (1722), is that of an interesting indeterminate 
equation. The problem is to find the sides of a triangle that 
shall have the values ;/, n + i, and n + 2, and such that the 
perpendicular upon the longest side from the opposite vertex 
shall be rational. Nakane solves it as follows: 

When the sides are I, 2, 3, the perpendicular is evidently 

Taking the cases arising from increasing these values suc- 
cessively by unity, the following triangles satisfy the conditions: 

3 13 Si 193 

4 14 52 194 

5 15 53 195 

If we represent these values by a^b^ c^; a 2 , b 2 , c 2 ; a 3 , b^ c 3 ; . . ., 
it will readily be seen that 

and similarly for the <$'s and c's, and hence we have the 
required solution. Whether or not he made the induction 
complete does not, however, appear. 

1 See page 19. The work is in the library of the Emperor. 

2 For this purpose he spent half of his time in Yedo, the rest beim 
spent in Kyoto. 

3 It was printed in 1691 and reprinted in 1798. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 169 

It is also related that Takebe was asked in 1729, by the 
Shogun Yoshimune, for the solution of a certain problem on 
the calendar. Takebe, recognizing the great ability of the 
aged Nakane, asked him to undertake it; but he, feeling the 
infirmities of his years, passed it in turn to his son, Nakane 
Genjun. The result was a new method of solving numerical 
higher equations by successive approximations that alternately 
exceed and fall short of the real value, a method that was 
embodied in the Kaiho Yeijiku-jutsu* written by Nakane 
Genjun in 1729. The problem proposed by the Shogun is as 
follows: 2 "There are two places, one in the south and one in 
the north, from which the elevation of the pole star above 
the horizon is 36 and 4O75' respectively. At noon on the 
second day of the ninth month in a certain year the shadows 
of rods 0.8 of a yard high were 0.59 of a yard and 0.695 of 
a yard, respectively, and at the southern station the center of 
the sun was 36 37' distant from the zenith at noon on the 
da\~ of the equinox. Required from these data to determine 
the ratio of the diameter of the sun's orbit to the diameter of 
the earth, considering the two to be concentric." 

The solution of this problem is too long to be given here, 
but that of another one in the same manuscript may serve to 
illustrate Nakane's methods. "Given a circle in which are 
inscribed two equal smaller circles and another circle which 
we shall designate as the middle circle. Each of these four 
circles is tangent to the other three; the difference of area 
between the large circle and the three inscribed circles is 120, 
and the diameters of the middle and small circles differ by 5. 
Required to find the diameters." 

Nakane lets /, m, s, stand for the respective diameters of 
the large circle, middle circle, and small circles. 

Then s + 5 = ni 

and (s + ni) z s 2 = a 2 , an arbitrary abbreviation. 

1 Literally, Method of Increase and Decrease in the Evolution of Equations. 

2 From a manuscript of 1729. 

I/O IX. The eighteenth Century. 

T-I 7 (<* + 

Then / = v 

and / 2 2s 2 m 2 = 102 : 


He then assumes that .^ = 7.5, 

whence, from the above, the two sides of the equation become 

150.0654 and 152.788, 
their difference, d^, being 2.723. 
He next tries s 2 = 7.6, 

whence, as before, d 2 = 0.37811. 

He then takes s 3 = s t + d * =* 7.5878, 

whence as before, d^ = 0.028246. 
He now proceeds as before, taking 

, 4 = , 2 - -- = 7-5868..., 

S 2 S 3 

and in the same way he continues his approximations as far 
as desired. 

Not only did Nakane the younger study with his father, but 
he also went to Yedo (Tokyo) to learn of Takebe and of 
Kurushima. Returning to Osaka he succeeded his father in the 
mint, and in 1738 he published the Kanto Sampo followed in 
1741 by an arithmetic for beginners under the title Kanja Otogi 
Zos/ii.* In this latter work the mercantile use of the Soroban 
is explained (Fig. 35) and the check by the casting out of 
nines is first used in multiplication, division, and evolution in 
Japan. He died in 1761 at the age of sixty. 

The most distinguished of Nakane Genkei's pupils was Koda 
Shin-yei, who excelled in astronomy rather than in pure 

1 Literally, A Companion Book for Arithmeticians. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 


Fig- 35- From Nakane Genjun's Kanja Otogi Zoshi (1741). 

mathematics, and who died in 1758. Among Koda's pupils 
were Iriye Shukei, Chiba Saiyin (c. 1770), and Imai Kentei 
(1718 1780). Imai Kentei, who left several unpublished manu- 

172 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

scripts, had as his most prominent pupil Honda Rimei (1751 
1828),' a man of wide learning and of great influence in edu- 
cation. Honda numbered among his pupils many distinguished 
men, including Aida Ammei, Murata Koryu, Kusaka Sei, Mogami 
Tokunai, Sakabe Kohan, and Baba Seitoku. He gave much 
attention to the science of navigation and to public affairs, and 
even advocated the opening of Japan to foreign trade. He 
was familiar with the Dutch language, and made some attempt 
at mathematical research, 2 and to his influence Mamiya Rinzo, 
the celebrated traveler, acknowledged his deep indebtedness. 

Another prominent disciple of Takebe's was Koike Yiiken 
(1683 1754), a samurai of Mito, where he presided over the 
Shokokivan or Institute for Historical Research. By order of 
his lord he went to Yedo and learned mathematics from Takebe, 
acquiring at the same time some knowledge of astronomy. 

His successor in the SJiokokivan at Mito was Oba Keimei 
(17191785), but neither one contributed anything to mathe- 
matics beyond a sympathetic interest in the progress of the 

Among the pupils of Nakane Genjun, and therefore of the 
Takebe branch of the Seki school, was Murai Chuzen, a Kyoto 
physician. He wrote a work entitled the KaisJio Tempei Sampo $ 
(1765) which treated of the solution of numerical higher 
equations. Three years later one of his pupils, Nagano Seiyo, 
published a second part of this work in which he attempted 
to explain the methods employed in the solutions. For example, 
Murai 4 takes the equation 

6726 373 # + # 2 = o. 
He then finds the relation 

373 -372.1 = i, 

1 Also known as Honda Toshiaki. 

2 OZAWA, Lineage of mathematicians (in Japanese), and the epitaph on Honda's 

3 Literally, The Posting of Soldiers in the Evolution of Equations. 

4 ENDO, Book II, pp. 137 139. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 


and multiplies the 372 into the absolute term (6726) and then 
subtracts 373 as often as possible, leaving a remainder 36 1. 1 
This remainder is added to 6726 and the result is divided by 
373, the quotient, 19, being a root. 
Similarly, in the equation 

25233 2284^ + 25^3 = o, 
Murai claims first to take the relation 

2284 x 1 1 25 m = i, 

and states that he multiplies 1 1 into the absolute term, sub- 
tracting 2284 from the product until he reaches a remainder, 
which is the root required, a process that is not at all clear. 
Of course the method is not valid, for in the equation 

x z %x + 15 =o 

it gives 2 instead of 3 or 5 for the root. Murai must have 
been aware that his rule was good only for special cases, but 

Fig- 36. From Murai Chflzen's Sampo Ddshl-mon (1781). 

1 Briefly, 372X6726 = 2,502,072, and 2,502,072-^-373 = 6707 with a 
remainder 361. 


IX. The eighteenth Century. 

Fig. 37- The Pascal triangle as given in Murai's 
Sampo Doshi-mon (1781). 

he makes no mention of this fact. Nevertheless he assisted 
in preparing the way for modern mathematics by discouraging 
the use of the sangi, which were already beginning to be looked 
upon as unwieldy by the best algebraists of his time. 
.. Murai also wrote a Sampo Dos/ii-mon, or Arithmetic for the 
Young (see Figs. 36 38), which was intended as a sequel 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 


Fig. 38. From Murai's Sampo Doshi-mon (1781). /M. 

to the Kaiija Otogi Zoski of Nakane Genjun. The work- 
appeared in 1781, and contains numerous interesting pictures 
of primitive work in mensuration (Fig. 36), and the Pascal 

1/6 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

triangle (Fig. 37). It is also noteworthy because of its treat- 
ment of circulating decimals. The problem as to the number 
of figures in the recurring period of a unit fraction was first 
mentioned in Japan by Nakane in his Kanto Sampo (1738) 
and solutions of an unsatisfactory nature appeared in Ikebe's 
KaisJw Sampo (1743) and in Yamamoto's Sansid (1745). Na- 
kane's writings upon the problem were no longer extant, so 
that Murai had practically the field before him untouched, 
although he really did little with it. His theory is brief, for 
he first divides 9 by 2, 3, ... 9, getting the figures 45, 3, 225, 
18, 15, x (not divisible), 1125, I, without reference to the 
decimal points. He then concludes that if unity is divided by 
45> 3> 22 5> > the result will have one-figure repetends. Simil- 
arly he divides 99 by 2, 3, ... 9, getting the figures 495, 33, 
2475, 189, . . ., and then divides unity by these results, getting 
two-figure repetends. 

In his explanation of the use of the sorobaii Murai gives 
certain devices that his predecessors had not in general used. 
For example, in extracting the square root he divides half of 
the remainder by the part of the root already found, which 
he evidently thought to be a little easier on the soroban than 
to divide by twice this root. In treating of cube root he 
proceeds in an analogous fashion, dividing a third of the 
remainder twice by the part of the root already found. \Ye 
have said that these devices had not been used in general 
before Murai, but they had already been given by at least one 
writer, Yamamoto Hifumi, in his Hayazan Tebikigusa^ in 1775. 

Contemporary with Nakane Genkei, and a friend of his, 
was a curious character named Kurushima Yoshita, a native 
of Bitchu, at one time a retainer of Lord Naito, and a man 
of notorious eccentricity and looseness of character. It is 
related of him that when he had to leave Kyushu to take 
up his residence in Yedo, he used all of his mathematical 
manuscripts to repair his basket trunks for the journey. He 
must, however, have been a man of mathematical ability, 

1 Literally, Handbook of Rapid Calculations. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 177 

for he was the friend not only of Nakane but also of Matsunaga, 
and he had at least one pupil of considerable attainments, 
Yamaji Shuju. He died in 1757. Among the fragments of 
knowledge that have been transmitted concerning him is a 
formula for the radius r, of a regular n-gon of side s, ex- 
pressed in an infinite series. 1 

Kurushima also knew something of continued fractions, since 
in Ajima's Fukyu Sampo 2 and other works it is shown how 
he expressed a square root in this manner, with the method 
of finding the successive convergents. This seems to have 
been an invention made by him in I726. 3 It is repeated in a 
work written in 1748 by Hasu Shigeru, a pupil of one Horiye 
who had learned from Takebe. In the preface Horiye says 
that the method is one of the most noteworthy of his time. 4 

Kurushima was also interested in magic squares, and his 
method of constructing one with an odd number ot cells is 
worth repeating. s 

The plan may briefly be described as follows: 

Let n be the number of cells in one side. Arrange the 

1 ENDO, Book II, p. 112; Kawakita in the Honcho Sugaku Koenshu, p. 6. 
On the life of Kurushima there is a manuscript (Japanese) entitled Tea-table 
Stories told by Yamaji. This formula was first published in Aida Ammei's 
Sampo Kokon Tsitran (General View of Mathematical Works ancient and 
modern), 1795, Book VI. It appears again in Chiba's Sampo Shinsho (New 
Treatise on Mathematical Methods). See FUKUDA, Sampo Tamatebako. Book II, 
p. 33; ENDO, Book III, p. 33. Kurushima also wrote the Kyushi Kohai So 
(Incomplete Fragments on the arc of a circle) in which he treated of the 
minimum ratio of an arc to its altitude. It exists only in manuscript. In it 
is also some work in magic cubes. 

2 In manuscript, compiled by Kusaka. 

3 Possibly Takebe was the first Japanese to employ continued fractions, 
in his Fukyu Telsujutsu (1722). See also the Taisei Sankyo, where they are 
found. But their application to square root begins, in Japan, with Kurushima. 
C. KAWAIUTA relates in the Siigaku Ilotki that this was done in the first 
month of 1726. 

4 HORIYE'S preface to HASU'S Heiho Reiyaku Genkai, 1748, in manuscript. 
See also ENDO, Book II, p. 105. 

5 It is given in his manuscript Kyushi Iko (Posthumous Writings of Kuru- 
shima), Book I. 


I 7 8 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

numbers I, n 2 , n, and k = n 2 + i n as in the figure. Then 
take -- (n 2 + i) as the central number, and from this, along 


n 1 




CD, arrange a series decreasing towards C and increasing 
towards D by the constant difference n. Next fill the cells 
along the oblique lines through n and n 2 , and through i and 
k, according to the same law. Now fill the cells along AB 
and the two parallels through n and i, and through n* and k, 
by a series decreasing towards A and increasing towards B by 
the constant difference i. The rest of the rule will be apparent 
by examining the following square: 











































4 6 







IX. The eighteenth Century. 179 

It is also worthy of note that Kurushima discussed 1 the 
problem of finding the maximum value of the quotient of the 
altitude of a circular segment by its arc. In this there arises 
the equation 

.r 4 .r 6 r S 

3.6 3.5X6.8 3.5.7X6.8.10 

3.5.7-9X6.8. 10.12 "* 

He speaks of this as an "unlimited equation", and after a 
complicated solution he reaches the result, 

*= 5. 4341 3 1 504304. 

Mention should also be made of a value of u 2 given by 
Kurushima, ; but his method of obtaining it is not known. 2 

In the first half of the eighteenth century there lived in 
Osaka one Takuma Genzayemon, concerning whose life and 
early training we know practically nothing. Some have said 
that he learned mathematics in the school of Miyagi, but all 
that is definitely known is that he established a school in 
Osaka. He is of interest because of his work upon the value 
of IT, a problem that he attacks in the Dutch manner of a 
century earlier. He seems to have been the only mathe- 
matician in Japan who used for this purpose the circumscribed 
regular polygon as well as the inscribed one of a large number 
of sides. He bases his conclusions upon the perimeters of 
polygons of 17,592,186,044,416 sides which he stated to be 

3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 6658, 
3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26434 67. 

He takes the average of these numbers, and thus finds the 
value correct to twenty-five figures. It is related that this 
was looked upon as one of the most precious secrets of his 

1 In his manuscript entitled Kyiishi Kohai-so. 

2 ENDO, Book II, p. 127. It is found in manuscript in the posthumous 
writings of Kurushima. 

l8o IX. The eighteenth Century. 

school. 1 The most distinguished of Takuma's followers was 
Matsuoka Noichi (or Yoshikadsu), who published a very usable 
textbook in 1808, the Sampo Keiko Taizen? 

Mention has already been made of Matsunaga Ryohitsu,* 
but his work is such as to merit further notice. One of his 
most important treatises is embodied in a manuscript called 
the Sampo Shusei* consisting of nine books of which the first 
five are devoted to indeterminate analysis as applied to questions 
of geometry. He considers, for example, the Pythagorean 
triangle of sides a, b, and hypotenuse c, and lets 

a = 2m + i, c b = 211, 


, _ a fr _ a* _ (2 + i) 
c "t~ c/ , . . 

c b c o 2n 

whence b and c assume the form 

Hence the three sides may be represented by 

4 (2m + i), (2m + i) 2 4 2 , (2m + i) 2 4- 4 2 . 

He also attacks the problem by letting the perpendicular p 
from the vertex of the right angle cut the hypotenuse into 
the segments c' and c" . He then gets 

b 2 a* = (c" 2 +p 2 ) (c' 2 +/ 2 ) 

= (c" + c'} (c" c'} ==c (c" c'\ 
2ab = c . 2p, 

and a 2 + b 1 = c 2 . 

Then since p 2 = c'c", we have 

(c" c') 2 + (2/) 2 = c\ 

1 ENDO, T., On the development of the mensuration of the circle in Japan 
(in Japanese), Rigakkai, Book III, no. 4. 

a Literally, A Complete Treatise of mathematical instruction. 

3 See page 158. The name also appears as Matsunaga Yoshisuke. 

4 Literally, .A Collected Treatise on mathematical methods. It is undated. 
His Hoyen Sankyo is dated 1739 in one of the prefaces and 1738 in another. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. l8l 

whence the sides of a right triangle may be represented by 
b 2 a 2 , 2 ad, and a 2 + b 2 . 

Matsunaga was, like most of his contemporary geometers, 
interested in the radius of the regular polygon of n sides, each 
side being equal to s. His formula, 

2 = 62370 4 4- 107480*2 + 83577 _ ^ 
2462268 * 3857400 

is claimed to give the radius correct to six figures. 1 A more 
complicated formula, requiring the extraction of a seventh root, 
is given in Irino Yosho's Kakuso Sampo (1743), but it is no 
more accurate. 

Still another formula of this nature is given by Matsunaga's 
pupil Yamaji Shuju (1704 1772) 2 , 

7-2 = (15 1 7621639810;^ + 1 0049747 20807 n 6 
+ 16637450385672*) s 2 ~ (59913200861841 n 6 
- i 5 743 2047 5 80066 4 + I355297564732o6 2 

Such efforts, however, are interesting chiefly for the same 
reason as the Japanese ivory carving of spheres within spheres, 
examples of infinite painstaking. Yamaji was a native of 
the province of Bitchu, and later he became a samurai of the 
shogunate, serving as assistant in the astronomical department. 
He first studied under Nakane, and upon Nakane's leaving 
Yedo for Kyoto he came under the latter's friend Kurushima. 
When Kurushima moved to Kyushu, Yamaji became a pupil 
of Matsunaga. He was thus, as he relates in his Tea-table 
Stories, privileged to know the mathematical secrets of three 
of the best teachers of Japan. While he was not himself a 
great contributor to the science, he proved to be a great 
teacher, so that when he died not a few sucessful mathe- 

1 The reader may consider it for = 4, s = \^2, r=. It is also given 
in Arima's Hoyen Kiko (1766), but credit is there given to Matsunaga. See 
also ENDO, Book II, p. 109. 

2 ARJM.V, Hoyen Kiko; ENDO, Book II, p. 108. 

1 82 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

maticians were counted among his pupils, including Lord Arima, 
Fujita, and Ajima. It is possible that the Kenkon no Maki 
was written by him, and also the Kohai no Ri and other 
manuscripts on the yenri, but the Gyokuseki Skin-jutsu * is the 
only work of importance that is certainly his. In this is given 
a treatment of the volume of the sphere by a kind of integra- 
tion much like that to be found in the anonymous 2 Kigenkai. 
Of Yamaji's pupils the first above mentioned was Arima ^ 
Raido (1714 1783), Lord of Kurume in Kyushu. It was he, 
it will be recalled, who first published the tenzan algebra that 
had been kept a secret in the Seki school since the days of 
the founder. His Skuki Sainpo in five books was published in 
1769 under the nom de plume of Toyota Bunkei, possibly the 
name of one of his vassals. The work must certainly have 
been Arima's, however, since only a man in his position would 
have dared to reveal the Seki secret. In this treatise Arima 
sets forth and solves one hundred fifty problems, thus being 
the first noted writer to break from the old custom of solving 
the problems of his predecessors and setting others for those 
who were to follow. His questions related to indeterminate 
analysis, the various roots of an equation, the algebraic treat- 
ment of geometric propositions, binomial series, maxima and 
minima, and the mensuration of geometric figures, including 
problems relating to tangent spheres (Fig. 39). The curious 
Japanese manner of representing a sphere by a circle with a 
lune on one side is seen in Fig. 39. In this work appears a 
fractional value of TT, 

= 42822 45933 49304 
13630 81215 70117 ' 

that is correct to twenty-nine decimal places. Arima also wrote 
several other works, including the Hoy en Kiko (1766)* and the 
Skosa San-yo (1764), but none of these was published. 

* Literally, The Exact Method for calculating the volume of a sphere. 

2 Or Yenri Kenkon Sho. 

3 Not Akima, his ancestor, as is sometimes stated. 

4 In this is also given the value of TT mentioned above, and the powers 
of ir from ir 2 to ir 22 for the first thirty-two figures. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 183 

Among the vassals of Lord Arima was a certain Honda 
Teiken (17341807), who was born in the province of Musashi. 
He is known in mathematics by another name, Fujita Sadasuke, 
which he assumed when he came to manhood, a name 
that acquired considerable renown in the latter half of the 
eighteenth century. As a youth he studied under Yamaji, and 
even when he was only nineteen years of age he became, on 

Fig- 39- From Arima's Shuki Sampo (1769). 

Yamji's recommendation, assistant to the astronomical depart- 
ment of the shogunate. For five years he labored acceptably 
in this work, but finally was compelled to resign on account 
of trouble with his eyes. Arima now extended to him a cordial 
invitation to accompany him to Yedo, whither he went for 
service every second year, and to act as teacher of arithmetic. 1 
Here he published his Seiyo Sampo (1779), a work in three 
books, consisting of a well arranged and carefully selected set 
of problems in the tenzan algebra. This book was so clearly 
written as to serve as a guide for teachers for a long time 
after its publication. In Fig. 40 is shown one of his problems 

1 Kawakita, in the Honcho Siigaku JCoenshtl, 1908, p. 8. 

1 84 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

relating to tangent spheres in a cone. Fujita also published 
several other works, including the Kaisei Tengen SJiinan (1792),* 
and wrote numerous manuscripts that were eagerly sought by 
the mathematicians of his time, although of no great merit on 
the ground of originality. He died in 1807 at the age of 
seventy-two years, respected as one of the leading mathe- 
maticians of his day, although he did not merit any such 
standing in spite of his undoubted excellence as a teacher. 

Fujita's son Fujita Kagen 
(17651821) was also a mathe- 
matician of some prominence. 
He published in 1790 his SJiim- 
pekiSampo (Mathematical Prob- 
lems suspended before the 
Temple), 2 and in 1806 a sequel, 
the Zoku Shinipeki Sainpd. 
The significance of the name 
is seen in the fact that the 
work contains a collection of 
problems that had been hung 
before various temples by 
certain mathematical devotees 
between 1767 and the time 

Fig. 40. From Fujita Sadasuke's 
Seiyo Sampo (1779). 

when Fujita wrote, together 
with rules for their solution. This 
strange custom of hanging 

problems before the temples originated in the seventeenth cen- 
tury, and continued for more than two hundred years. It 
may have arisen from a desire for the praise or approval of 
the gods, or from the fact that this was a convenient means 
of publishing a discovery, or from the wish to challenge others 
to solve a problem, as European students in the Middle Ages 
would post a thesis on the door of church. A few of these 

1 We follow EndO. Hayashi gives 1793. 

2 There was a second edition in 1796, with some additions. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 185 

problems are here translated 1 as specimens of the work of 
Japanese mathematicians at the close of the eighteenth century. 
"There is a circle in which a triangle and three circles, 
A, B, C, are inscribed in the manner shown in the figure. 

Given the diameters of the three inscribed circles, required the 
diameter of the circumscribed circle." The rule given may be 
abbreviated as follows: 

Let the respective diameters be x, y, and z, and let xy = a. 
Then from a 2 take \(x y) z\ . Divide a by this remainder 
and call the result b. Then from (x + y) z take a, and divide 
0.5 by this remainder and add b, and then multiply by z 
and by a. The result is the diameter of the circumscribed 
circle. 2 To this rule is appended, with some note of pride, the 
words: "Feudal District of Kakegawa in Yenshu Province, 
third month of 1795, Miyajima Sonobei Keichi, pupil of Fujita 
Sadasuke of the School of Seki." 

Another problem is stated as follows: "Two circles are de- 
scribed, one inscribing and the other circumscribing a quadri- 

From the edition of 1796. 

That is 

. 0.5 

r _ xy^ 
L*V l [(*-. 

1 86 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

lateral. Given the diameter of the circumscribed circle and 
the product of the two diagonals, required to find the diameter 
of the inscribed circle." The problem was solved by Ko- 
bayashi Koshin in 1795, and the relation was established that 

where i = the diameter of the inscribed circle, c = the dia- 
meter of the circumscribed circle, and / = the given product. 1 
A third problem is as follows: "There is an ellipse in which 
five circles are inscribed as here shown. The two axes of 

the ellipse being a and b it is required to find the diameter 
of the circle A." The solution as given by Sano Anko in 
1787 may be expressed as follows: 

Another problem of similar nature is shown in Fig. 41, from 
the Zoku Shimpeki Sampo (1806). 

A style of problem somewhat similar to one already mention- 
ed in connection with Arima was studied in 1789 by Hata 

1 For the case of a square of side 2 we have 2 J/l6= 8. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

1 8 7 

Fig. 41. From the Zoku Shimpeki Sampo (1806). 

Judo, as follows: "There is a sphere in which are inscribed, as 
in the figure, two spheres A, two B, and two C, touching each 

other as shown. Given the diameters of A and C, required 
to find the diameter of B." The solution given is 

1 88 IX. The eighteenth Century. 

Contemporary with Fujita Sadasuke was Aida Ammei (1747 
1817), who was born at Mogami, in north-eastern Japan. Like 
Seki, Aida early showed his genius for mathematics, and while 
still young he went to Yedo where he studied under a certain 
Okazaki, a disciple of the Nakanishi school, and also under 
Honda Rimei, although he used later to boast that he was a 
self-made mathematician, and to assume a certain conceit that 
hardly became the scholar. Nevertheless his ability was such 
and his manner to his pupils was so kind that he attracted 
to himself a large following, and his school, to which he gave 
the boastful title of Superior School, became the most popular 
that Japan had seen, save only Seki's. Aida wrote, so his 
pupils say, about a thousand pamphlets on mathematics, 
although only a relatively small number of his contributions 
are now extant. He died in 1817 at the age of seventy years. 1 

One of Aida's works, the Tosei Jinkoki (1784) deserves 
special mention for its educational significance. In this he 
discarded the inherited problems to a large extent and sub- 
stituted for them genuine applications to daily life. The result 
was a great awakening of interest in the teaching of mathe- 
matics, and the work itself was very successful. 

Soon after the publication of this work there arose an un- 
fortunate controversy between Aida and Fujita Sadasuke, at 
that time head of the Seki School. The story goes 2 that 
Aida had at one time asked to be admitted to this school, 
but that Fujita in an imperious fashion had told him that first 
he must make haste to correct an error in his solution of a 
problem that he had hung in the Shinto shrine on Atago hill 
in Shiba, Tokyo. Aida promptly declined to change his solution 
and thus cut himself off from the advantages of study in the 
Seki school. While Aida admits having visited Fujita he says 
that he did so only to test the latter's ability, not for the 
purpose of entering the school. 

1 As stated upon his monument. See also C. KAWAKITA in the Honcho 
Sugaku Koenshu, 1908. 

2 This account is digested from the works of various writers who were 
drawn into the controversy. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 189 

As a result of all this unhappy discussion Aida was much 
embittered against the Seki school, and in particular he set 
about to attack the Seiyo Sampo which Fujita Sadasuke had 
published in 1779. For this purpose he wrote the Kaisei 
Sampo, or Improved Seiyo Sampo, and published it in 1785, 
criticising severely some thirteen of Fujita' s problems, and starting 
a controversy that did not die for a score of years. Fujita's 
pupil, Kamiya Kokichi Teirei, then wrote in the former's defence 
the Kaisei Sampo Seiron, and sent the manuscript to Aida, to 
which the latter replied in his Kaisei Sampo Kaisei-ron which 
appeared in 1786. Kamiya having been forbidden by Fujita 
to publish his manuscript, so the story runs, he prepared 
another essay, the Hi-kaisei Sampo which also appeared about 
the same time, the exact date being a subject of dispute. Of 
the replies and counter-replies it is not necessary to speak at 
length, since for our purposes it suffices to record this Newton- 
Leibnitz quarrel in miniature. 1 It was in one sense what is 
called in English a "tempest in a tea-pot"; but in another sense 
it was more than that, for it was a protest against the claims 
of the Seki school, of the individual against the strongly 
entrenched guild, of genius against authority, of struggling 

1 For purposes of reference the following books on the controversy are 
mentioned: Fujita wrote a reply to Aida in 1786, which was never printed. 
Aida wrote the Kaiwaku Sampo in 1788, replying to the Hi-kaisei Sampo. 
Fujita wrote a rejoinder, the Hi-kaiwaku Sampo, but it was never printed. 
Kamiya published the Kaiwaku Bengo in 1789, replying to Aida. In 1792 
Aida wrote the Shimpeki Shinjutsu in which he criticised the Shimpeki Sampo 
of Fujita's son, and also wrote the Kaisei Sampo Jensho in which he criticised 
Fujita's Seiyo Sampo, but neither of these was printed. In 1795 he wrote 
his Sampo Kakujo, an abusive reply to Kamiya, but in the same year he wrote 
the Sampo Kokon Tsiiran (General view of mathematical works, ancient and 
modern) in which he has something good to say of him. In 1799 Kamiya 
wrote an abusive reply to Aida, the Hatsiiran Sampo. The last of the published 
works by the contestants was Aida's ffi-ffatsuran Sampo of 1801, although 
the controversy still went on in unpublished manuscripts. The manuscripts 
include Kamiya's Fukitsei Sampo (1803) and Aida's Sampo Senri Dokko (1804). 
Mention should also be made of the Sampo Tensho ho Shinan (1811) written 
by Aida, of which only the first part (5 books) was printed. 

IQO IX. The eighteenth Century. 

youth against vested interests; it was the cry of the insurgent 
who would not be downed by the abuse of a Kamiya who 
championed the cause of a decadent monopoly of mathe- 
matical learning and teaching. It was this that inspired Aida 
to act, and of the dignity of his action these words, from a 
preface to one of his works, will bear witness: "The Seiyo 
Sampo* treats of subjects not previously worked out, and 
certain of its methods have never been surpassed. The author's 
skill in mathematics may safely be described as unequalled in 
all the Empire. Upon this work the student may in general 
rely, although it is not wholly free from faults. Since it would 
be a cause of regret, however, if posterity should be led into 
error through these faults, as would be the natural influence 
of so great a master as Fujita, I have taken the trouble to 
compose a work which I now venture to offer to the world 
as a guide." Such words and others in recognition of Fujita's 
merits did not warrant the abuse that Kamiya heaped upon 
Aida, and the impression left upon the reader of a century 
later is that of a staunch champion of liberty of thought, corn- 
batted by the unprovoked insults and unjust scorn of vested 
interests. Fujita seems to have solved his problems correctly 
but to have expressed his work in cumbersome notation, 2 
while Aida stood for simplicity of expression. Neither was 
in general right in attacking the solutions of the other, and in 
the heat of controversy each was led to statements that were 
incorrect. The whole struggle is a rather sad commentary on 
the state of mathematics in the waning days of the Seki school, 
when the trivial was magnified and the large questions of 
mathematics were forced into the background. 

Aida was an indefatigable worker, practically his whole life 
having been spent in study. As a result he left hundreds of 
manuscripts, most of which suffered the fate of so many 

1 Fujita's work of 1779. 

2 As compared with that of Aida, although an improvement upon that 
of his predecessors. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 19 1 

thousands of books in Japan, the fate of destruction by fire. 1 
Of the contents of the Sampo Kokon Tsiiran (1795) already 
mentioned, only a brief note need be given. In Book VI Aida 

gives the value of -- as follows: 

2! 3! 4! 

He gives a series for the length of an arc x in terms of the 
chord c and height // thus: 

2 2.4 2.4.6 . 
x = c (i -\ m H ;;/ + - m +), 

3 3-5 3-5-7 

where m = = ^ 

and ^ is the diameter of the circle. In the same work he 
gives a formula for the area of a circular segment of one 

he . 2 2.4 2.4.6 , 

Aida also gave a solution of a problem found in Ajima's 
Fnkyu Sampd, as follows: The side of an equilateral triangle 
is given as an integer n. It is 
required to draw the lines s lf 
s 2 , . . ., parallel to one side, 
such that the /'s, g's and s's 
as shown in the figure shall 
all have integral values. 

Ajima had already solved this 
before Aida tried it, and this 
is, in substance, his solution: 
Decompose n into two factors, n=ab 

a and b, which are either 

both odd or both even. If this cannot be done a solution is 
impossible. The rules are now, as expressed in formulas, as 
follows : 

KAWAKITA'S article in the Honcho Siigaku Koenshu, p. 13. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

/! = k 2 a 2 , q l = (k a) 2 ka, 

pz = A D, p$ = s z D, . . . 

s 2 = n -/!, -$-3 = J 2 / 2 , 

where k = (a + b\ D=^(b-a } 2 , M=^D. 

When /i > w it may be taken at once for s 2 and n s 2 
for / x .* 

Aida objects to the length of such a rule, and he proposes 
to solve the problem thus: 

Let n = ab, where a < b. 
Then let -i- (& a) = D. 

Then ( Z?) (b-D)=s 2 , 

Also let s r 
and we have 

Aida also did some work in indeterminate equations 2 and 
was the first to take up the permutation of magic squares. 3 

1 Ajima does not tell what to do for q-i if \k a) 2 < ka. 

2 As in solving 2* = x-i 2 -\-x 2 2 + ^3* + -*" 4 2 + ^5 2 . See the article by 
C. HITOMI in the 'Journal of the Tokyo Physics School. From Aida's manu- 
script Sampo Seisii-jutsu (On the method of solutions in integers), we also 
take the following types: 

I 2 ^I 2 + 22 X 2 2 + 3 2 A'f -\ f- TO 2 ^ 2 IO ==^ 2 


I*! 2 + 2JC 2 2 +3^3 2 + 1- IO.*lio=-J/ 2 . 

This manuscript was probably written not earlier than 1807. 

3 Upon the authority of K. KANO, to whom we are indebted for the 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 193 

He also gives an ingenious method for expanding a binomial, 

or rather for writing down the coefficients in the expansion 


of (a + b} n , which expresses roots in series. 

One of the most interesting of Aida's solutions is that of 
the problem to find the radius r of a regular w-gon of side s. 1 
He says that of the infinite series representing the successive 
terms are 

4.6 ' 4-6.8.10 

3-- (4)'] [5- 1 

4.6.8. 10.12.14 
If we put m for , and x for , the series becomes 

n.' 2 ' 

sin (m arc sin x) m m (m* i 2 ) 2 

~^~~ " H " 3 ! 

m ( m2 _ T 2) ( m , 32) 

5- ' *' 

a series that has been attributed both to Newton and to Euler. 
We therefore have 

= 2 sin I arc sin 

. l \ 
in ) , 

2 J ' 

S . IT 

or = 2 sin , 

whence sin -r- = . It is generally conceded that Aida knew 

that the formula had already been given in substance by 
Kurushima. 2 It also appeared in Matsunaga's Hoyen Sankyo 

of 1739- 

From the names considered in this chapter we might charac- 
terize the eighteenth century as one of problem- solving, of the 
extension of a rather ill-defined application of infinite series 

1 HAYASHI, History, part II, p. 13. 

2 See p. 176. 

IX. The eighteenth Century. 

to the mensuration of the circle, of some slight improvement 
in the various processes, of the rather arrogant supremacy of 
the Seki school, and of a bitter feud between the independents 
and the conservatives in the teaching of mathematics. And 
this is a fair characterization of most of the latter half of the 
century. There was, however, one redeeming feature, and this 
is found in the work of Ajima Chokuyen, of whom we shall 
speak in the next chapter. 

Ajima Chokuyen. 

In the midst of the unseemly strife that waged between 
Fujita and Aida in the closing years of the eighteenth century 
there dwelt in peaceful seclusion in Yedo a mathematician who 
surpassed both of these contestants, and who did much to 
redeem the scientific reputation of the Japanese of his period. 
A man of rare modesty, content with little, taking delight in 
the simple life of a scholar rather than in the attractions of 
office or society, almost unknown in the midst of the turmoil 
of the scholastic strife of his day, Ajima Manzo Chokuyen * 
was nevertheless a rare genius, doing more for mathematics 
than any of his contemporaries. 

He was born in Yedo in 1739, and as a samurai he served 
there under the Lord of Shinjo, whose estates were in the 
north-eastern districts. He was initiated into the secrets of 
mathematics by one Iriye Ochu 2 , who had studied in the 
school of Nakanishi. He afterwards became a pupil of Yamaji 
Shuju, and at this time he came to know Fujita Sadasuke with 
whom he formed a close friendship but with whose controversy 
with Aida he never concerned himself. And so he received 
a training that enabled him to surpass all his fellows in solving 
the array of problems that had accumulated during the century, 
including all those which had long been looked upon as wholly 
insoluble. Such a type of mind rarely extends the boundaries 
of mathematical discovery, but occasionally an individual is 

1 See also HARZER, P , loc. cit., p. 34 of the Kiel reprint of 1905. 

2 Also given as Irie Masatada. 


196 X. Ajima Chokuyen. 

found with this kind of genius who is at least able to help in 
improving science by his genuine sympathy if not by his 
imagination. Such a man was Ajima. His interests extended 
from tenzan algebra to the Diophantine analysis, and from 
simple trigonometry to a new phase of the yenri which had 
occupied so much attention throughout the century. Possessed 
of the genius of simplicity, he clothed in more intelligible form 
the abstract work of his predecessors, even if he made no 
noteworthy discovery for himself. Although his retiring nature 
would not allow him to publish his works, he left many manu- 
scripts of which the more important may well occupy our 
attention. He died in 1798 at the age of fifty-nine years, 1 
honored by his fellows as a Meijin 2 (genius, or person dexterous 
in his art) in the field in which he labored. 

In the Kan-yen Muyuki* (1782) he gives a solution in integers 
of the problem of n tangent circles described within a given 
circle, and similarly for an array of circles tangent to one 
another and to the -given circle externally. The problem is 
one of those in indeterminate analysis to which the Japanese 
scholars paid much attention. Another indeterminate equation 
considered by him is the following: 

xS + xS + xj + x* + x 5 2 = j 2 . 

This appears in a manuscript entitled Beki-wa Kaiho Mu-yuki 
Seisu-jutsu (Integral solutions for the square root of the sum 
of squares) and dated 1791. 

Another work of his was the Sampo Kosofi in which the 
famous Malfatti problem appears, to inscribe three circles in a 
triangle, each tangent to the other two. Ajima does not, 
however, consider the geometric construction, preferring to 
attack the question from the standpoint of algebra, after the 
usual manner of the Japanese scholars. The problem first 

1 C. KAWAKITA, in his article in the Honcho Sugaku Koenshu says that 
he is sometimes thought to have died in 1800, but the date given by us is 
from the records of the Buddhist temple where he is buried. 

2 The term may be compared to pandit in India. 

3 Literally, Integral solutions of circles touching a circle. 

4 Literally, A draft of a mathematical problem. 

X. Ajima Chokuyen. 197 

appears in Japan, so far as now known, in the Sampo Gakkai* 
published by Ban Seiyei of Osaka in 1781, the solution being 
much more complicated than that given subsequently by 
Ajima. 2 

The Senjo Ruiyen-jutsu* and the Yennai Yo-ruiyen-jutsu* 
are two works upon groups of circles tangent to a straight 
line and a circle, or to two circles. In the Renjutsu Henkan 
(1784)5 he treats the subject still more generally, considering 
the straight line as a limiting case of a circumference. 

The Jnji-kan Shinjutsuf a manuscript of 1794, considers the 
question of an anchor-ring cut by two cylinders, a problem 
first studied in Japan by Seki, and later by Arima in his Shuki 
Sampo (1769), where infinitesimal analysis seems to have been 
applied to it for the first time in this country. One of the 
most famous problems solved by Ajima is that known as the 
Gion Temple Problem, and treated by him in his Gion Sandai 
no KaiJ The problem is as follows: "There is a segment of 
a circle, and in this there are inscribed, on opposite sides of 
the altitude, a circle and a square. Given the sum of the 
chord, the altitude, the diameter of the inscribed circle, and a 

1 Literally, Sea of learning for mathematical methods. 

2 ENDO, Book III, p. 187. For the history of the problem in the West 
see A. WlTTSTElN, Geschichte des Malfatti' schen Problems, Miinchen, 18(7, 
Diss. ; M. BAKER in the Bulletin of the Philosophical Society of Washington, 
Vol. IT, p. 113; Intorno alia vita ed agli scritti di Gianfranco Malfatti, in the 
Boncompagni Bulletino, tomo IX, p. 361. For the isosceles triangle the 
problem appears in the Opera of Jakob Bernoulli, Geneva, 1744, Problema 
geometrica, lemma II, tomus I, p. 303. It was first published by Malfatti 
(1731 1807) in the Memorie di Matematica e di Fisica, Modena, 1803, tomo X, 
p. 235, five years after Ajima died. 

3 Literally, On Circles described successively on a line. It appeared in 
1784, and a sequel 1791. 

4 Literally, On Circles described successively within a circle. 

5 Literally, The Adapting of a general plan to special cases. 

6 Literally, Exact method for the cross-ring. 

7 Literally, The Analysis of the Gion Temple problem. The manuscript 
is dated the 24^ day of the 6''> month, 1773, although ENDO (Book III, 
p. 8) gives 1774 as the year. 

X. Ajima Chokuyen. 

side of the square, and also given the sum of the quotients 
of the altitude by the chord, of the diameter of the circle by 

the altitude, and of the side of the square by the diameter 
of the circle, it is required to find the various quantities 

The problem derives its name from the fact that it was, with 
its solution, first hung before the Gion Temple in Kyoto by 
Tsuda Yenkyu, a pupil of Nishimura Yenri's 1 , the solution 
depending upon an equation of the 1024^ degree in terms of 
the chord. The solution was afterward simplified by one 
Nakata so as to depend upon an equation of the 46* degree. 
Ajima attacked the problem in the year 1774, and brought it 
down to the solution of an equation of the 10* degree. This 
is not only a striking proof of Ajima's powers of simplification, 
but it is also evidence of the improvement constantly going 
on in the details of Japanese mathematics in the eighteenth 

Ajima considers in his Fujin Isshu (Periods of decimal 
fractions) the problem of finding the number of figures con- 
tained in the repetend of a circulating decimal when unity is 
divided by a given prime number. Although he states that 
the problem is so difficult as to admit of no general formula, 
he shows great skill in the treatment of special cases. To 
assist him he had the work of at least two predecessors, for 
Nakane Genjun had studied the problem for special cases in 
his Kanto SampO of 1738, and in the Nisei Hyosen Ban Seiyei 
of Osaka had given the result for a special case, but without 

1 Whose Tengaku Shiyo (Astronomy extract) was published in 1/76. 

X. Ajima Chokuyen. 199 

the solution. Ajima was, however, the first Japanese scholar 
to consider it in a general way. 

He first gives a list of numbers from which, considered as 
divisors of unity, there arise periods of from I to 16 figures, 
as follows: 

1 figure 3 

2 figures 1 1 

3 figures 37 

4 figures 101 

5 figures 41, 271 

6 figures 7, 13 

7 figures 239, 4649 

8 figures 73 137 

9 figures 333,667 

10 figures 9091 

11 figures 21,649, 5 i 3,239 

12 figures 9901 

13 figures 53, 79, 665,371,653 

14 figures 909,091 

15 figures 31, 2,906,161 

16 figures 17, 5,882,353. 

As an example of his methods we will consider his treat- 
ment of the special fractions and . Ajima assumes 

353 103 

without explanation that the required numbers are given by 
one of the possible products of some of the prime factors in 

353 - i = 35 2 = 25xii 
and 103 i = 102 = 2x3x17, 

respectively. He then says that out of these products it can 
be found by trial that the respective numbers sought are 32 
and 34, but he does not tell how this trial is effected. This 
was done later by Koide Shuki (1797 1865) and the result 
appeared in print in the Sampo Tametebako (1879), a work 
by Koide's pupil, Fukuda Sen, who wrote under the nom de 

2OO X. Ajima Chokuyen. 

plume Riken. Koide merely explains Ajima's work, using 
identically the same numbers. 

Neither his explanation nor Ajima's hint is, however, very 
clear, and each shows both the difficulties met by followers 
of the wasan and their tendency to keep such knowledge from 
profane minds. 

r n 

For the expansion of V~N Ajima gives two formulas, 1 which 
may be expressed in modern notation as follows: 

T~> , 

=a^ -- am -- D*m + - D 2 m 

n 2 3 


r i ^ < N'+ I (IH 2) [( i) ii 2 -i 

# n -- m +>(i) r- 1 - L /' , 

2 2 tt 3 

where m = 

-*- 1 2 w 3 n i n 

where m = -," . No explanation of the work is given. 

He also treated of square roots by means of continued fractions, 
the convergents of which he could obtain. 2 

Ajima also studied the spiral of Archimedes, although not 
under that name.^ It had been considered even before Seki's 
time, 4 and Seki himself gave some attention to it.s Lord Arima 
also discussed it in his S/iuki Sampo of 1769. It is to Ajirna, 
however, that we are indebted for the only serious treatment 
up to his time. He divided a sector of a circle by radii into 
n equal parts, and then divided each of the radii also into n 
equal parts by arcs of concentric circles. He then joined 
successive points of intersection, beginning at the center and 

1 In the Tetsu-jutsu Kappo of 1784. 

2 HAYASHT, History, part II, p. 9, probably refers to his commentary on 
Kurushima's method. 

3 It was called by Japanese scholars yenkei, yempai, or yen-wan. 

4 As in Isomura's Ketsugisho of 1684. 

5 In his Kai-Kendai no Ho, and reproduced in the Taisei Sankyo. 

X. Ajima Chokuyen. 2OI 

ending on the outer circle, and said that the limiting form of 
this broken line for ;/ = oo was the yempai. He then preceded 
to find the area between the curve and the original arc by 
finding the trianguloid areas and summing these for n = o, 

obtaining ar. In a similar fashion he rectifies the curve, 
obtaining as a result the series 

s = r , a *_ _ a < , a 6 , 

6r 407-3 H2;-5 11527-7 28167-9 

a result that Shiraishi Ch5chu (1822) puts in a form equi- 
valent to 

Ajima also gives a formula for the square of the length of the 
curve, and summarizes his work by giving numerical values 
for r = 10, a = 5, thus: 

s = 10.402288144 . . . 
s 2 = 108.2075996685 ..., 

from which he concludes that Seki's treatment of the subject 
was rather crude. 

Ajima made a noteworthy change in the yenri, in that he 
took equal divisions of the chord instead of the arc, thus 
simplifying the work materially. 1 Indeed we may say that in 
this work Ajima shows the first real approach to a mastery 
of the idea of the integral calculus that is found in Japan, 
which approach we may put at about the year 1775. Since 
this work was so noteworthy we enter upon a more detailed 
description than is usually required in speaking of the achieve- 
ments of the eighteenth century. 

Ajima proceeds first to find the area of a segment of a 
circle bounded by two parallel lines and the equal arcs inter- 

i This appears in his Kohai-jutsu Kai (Note on the measurement of an 
arc of a circle), the date of which is not known. ENDO (Book III, p. l) 
thinks that it precedes his knowledge of the yenri as imparted by his 
teacher Yamaji. 


X. Ajima Chokuyen. 

cepted by them, that is, the area ABCD in the figure. Here 
we divide the chord c of the arc into n equal parts. 1 

Then from the figure it is apparent that 

where p r is the r th parallel from the diameter d. 

Ajima now expands p r , without explaining his process (evi- 
dently that of the tetsujutsii), and obtains 

3 / 

,r i/rjiv _i 

"TV rf ) ~~ 8 

_ 3 

& \~4 

384 V rf 




i In the figure the chord DC is divided into 5 equal parts, each part 
being designated by fi, so that 5ja = <r. 

X. Ajima Chokuyen. 203 

Summing for r = I, 2, 3 n, and multiplying by u. we have 
the following series: 


4 8 d 384 

. (23 

5 4 + 


66 #s _ 

- 50027/9 + 8 5 80 #7 90097/5 + 45507/3 691 n) 

Now substituting for |i its value, , and then letting n 

approach =, all terms with n in the denominator approach o 
as a limit, and the limit to which the required area ap- 
proaches is 

j f I r 3 I <r 5 3 c 1 

area = a \ c ^ - 

6 </2 40 </+ 336 d*> 
15 c 9 105 r 945 ri3 

3456 ^ 8 43240 </i 599040 

204 X. Ajima Chokuyen. 

From this Ajima easily derives the area of the segment, and 
from that he gets the length of the arc, as follows: 

_ r + l2 ^ 4. 12 '3 2 . , i*-3'- 2 

2-3 <*' a 3 4 f ^ 6 

+ -, 

from which other formulas may be derived. 

Ajima also directed his attention to the problem of rinding 
the volume cut from a cylinder by another cylinder which 
intersects it at right angles. His result is given by his pupil 
Kusaka Sei (1764 1839) 1 i n his manuscript work, the Fukyu 
Sampo (1799), without explanation, as follows: 

k z d 

^- \ i 
4 I 


} ' ' ' 

-o- .. o 

8 -8- 16- 16 8 -8- 16- 16 -40 

where k and d are the diameters of the pierced and piercing 
cylinders, respectively, and where m = k 2 -'.- d 2 . 2 In another 
work of I794, 3 however, Ajima gives an analysis of the problem, 
cutting the solid into elements as in the case of the segment 
of a circle already described. He then proceeds to the limit 
as in that case, and thus gives a good illustration of a fairly 
well developed integral calculus applied to the finding of 
volumes. 4 

Thus we at last find, in Ajima's work, the calculus established 
in the native Japanese mathematics, although possibly with 
considerable European influence. With him the use of the 
double series again appears, it having already been employed 
by Matsunaga and Kurushima, and by him the significance 
of double integration seems first to have been realized. He 

1 Or Kusaka Makoto. 

2 ENDO attempts some explanation in his History, Book III, p. 25. 

3 This is a manuscript of the Yenchii Sen-kiiyen Jutsti (Evaluation of a 
cylinder pierced by another). 

4 The work as given by Ajima is too extended to be set forth at length, 
the theory being analogous to that which has already been illustrated. 

X. Ajima Chokuyen. 205 

lacked the simple symbolism of the West, but he had the 
spirit of the theory, and although his contemporaries failed 
to realize his genius in this respect, it is now possible to 
look back upon his work, and to evaluate it properly. As 
a result it is safe to say that Ajima brought mathematics to 
a higher plane than any other man in Japan in the eighteenth 
century, and that had he lived where he could easily have 
come into touch with contemporary mathematical thought in 
other parts of the world he might have made discoveries that 
would have been of far reaching importance in the science. 

The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

The nineteenth century opened in Japan with one noteworthy 
undertaking, the great survey of the whole Empire. At the 
head of this work was Ino Chukei, 1 a man of high ability in 
his line, and one whose maps are justly esteemed by all cartog- 
raphers. Until he was fifty years of age he lived the life of 
a prosperous farmer. While not himself a contributor to pure 
mathematics, he came in later life under the influence of the 
astronomer Takahashi Shiji 2 (1765 1804), and at the solicitation 
of this scholar he began the work that made him known as 
the greatest surveyor that Japan ever produced. Takahashi 
seems to have become acquainted with Western astronomy 
and spherical trigonometry through his knowledge of the Dutch 
language. He had also studied astronomy while serving as a 
young man in the artillery corps at Osaka, his teacher having 
been a private astronomer and diligent student named Asada 
Goryu (17321799), by profession a physician. This Asada 
was learned in the Dutch sciences^ and is sometimes said to 
have invented a new ellipsograph. 4 In 1795 he was called to 

1 Or InO Tadanori, InO Tatayoshi, whose life and works are now (1913) 
being studied by Mr. R. Otani. 

2 Or Takahashi Shigetoki, Takahashi Yoshitoki, Takahashi Munetoki. 

3 As only physicians and interpreters were at this time. 

4 A different instrument was invented by Aida Ammei, who left a manu- 
script work of twenty books upon the ellipse. There is also a manuscript 
written by Hazama Jushin in 1828, entitled Dayen Kigen (A description of 
the ellipse) in which it is claimed that the ellipsograph in question was 
invented by the writer's father, Hazama Jufu (or Shigetomi) who lived 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 207 

membership in the Board of Astronomers of the shogunate, 
an honor which he declined in favor of his pupils Takahashi 
Shiji and Hazama Jufu. Takahashi thereupon took up his 
residence in Yedo, where he died in I8O4, 1 five years after 
Asada had passed away. 

Among Asada's younger contemporaries was Furukawa Uji- 
kiyo (1758 1820), who founded a school which he called the 
Shisei Sanka Ryu. 2 He was a shogunate samurai of high 
rank, holding the office of financial superintendent, and although 
a prolific writer he contributed little of importance to mathe- 
matics. 3 Nevertheless his school flourished, although it was 
one of nineteen* at that time contending for mastery in Japan, 

from 1756 to 1816, and that it dated from the beginning of the Kwansei 
era (1789 1800). Hazama Juffi was a pupil of Asada's, and was a merchant. 

1 It is said at about the age of forty. 

z School of Instruction with Greatest Sincerity. It was also called the 
Sanwa-itchi school. 

3 His Sanseki, a collection of tenzan problems consists of 223 books. 

4 ENDO, Book III, p. 57. On account of the importance of these schools 
in the history of education in Japan, the list is here reproduced for Western 
readers : 

1. Momokawa Ryu, or Momokawa's School, teaching the soroban arithmetic 
as set forth in Momokawa's Kameizan of 1645. 

2. Seki Ryu, or Seki's School. 

3. Kuichi Ryu. The meaning is not known. 

4. Nakanishi Ryu, or Nakanishi's School. 

5. Miyagi Ryu, or Miyagi's School. 

6. Takuma Ryfi, or Takuma's School. 

7. SaijO Ryu, or Superior School, sometimes incorrectly given as Mogami 

8. Shisei Sanka Ryu, or Sanwa Itcjii Ryu. The latter name may mean 
the Agreement of Trinity School. 

9. Koryu, the 'Old School; or Yoshida Ryu, Yoshida's School. 

10. Kurushima Gaku, or Kurushima's School. 

11. Ohashi Ryu, or Ohashi's School. 

12. Xakane Ryu, or Nakane's School, the Takebe-Nakane sect of the Seki 

13. Nishikawa Ryu, or Nishikawa's School. 

14. Asada Ryu, or Asada's School. 

15- Hokken Ryu. The meaning is not known. 

2C>8 XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

and when he died it was continued by his son, Furukawa Ken 


In this school, as in others of its kind, the tenzan algebra 
attracted much attention. It will be recalled that it was first 
made public in the Shuki Sampo, composed by Arima in 1769, 
a treatise written in Chinese characters and in such an obscure 
style as not easily to be understood. No better treatment 
appeared, however, until one was set forth by Sakabe Kohan 
(1759 1824)' in 1810 under the title Sampo Tenzan Shinan- 
Roku. 2 In the same year two other works were written upon 
this subject, one by Ohara Rimei^ and the other by Aida,* 
but neither of these had the merit of Sakabe's treatise. Sakabe 
was in his younger days in the Fire Department of the sho- 
gunate, but he early resigned his post and became a ronin or 
free samurai, devoting all of his time to study and to the 
teaching of his pupils. He first learned mathematics from 
Honda Rimei (1744 1821), who was a leader of the Takebe- 
Nakane sect of the Seki school, a man who was more of a 
patriot than a mathematician, but who knew something of the 
Dutch language and who was the first Japanese seriously to 
study the science of navigation from European sources. Sakabe 
also studied in the Araki-Matsunaga school and was one of 
the most distinguished pupils of Ajima. He left a noble record 
of a life devoted earnestly to the advance of his subject and 
to the assistance of his pupils. 

16. Komura Ryu, or Komura's School, a school of surveying. 

17. Furuichi Ryfl, or Furuichi's School. 

1 8. Mizoguchi Ryu, or Mizoguchi's School, a school of surveying. 

19. Shimizu Ryu, or Shimizu's School, also a school of surveying. 

1 He was a prolific writer, his other more important works being^the 
Shinsen Tetsujutsu (1795) and the Kakujntsu-keimo (Considerations on the 
theory of the polygon, 1802). These exist only in manuscripts. His literal 
name was Chugaku. 

2 Exercise book on the tenzan methods. 

3 Tenzan Shinan (Exercises in the tenzan method). Ohara died in 1831. 

4 Sampo Tensho-ho, or Sampo Tensei-ho, Treatise on the Tensho method. 
Aida called the tenzan method by the name tensho. 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 209 

Sakabe's treatise was published in fifteen Books, the last one 
appearing in 1815. One of the first peculiarities of the work 
that strikes the reader is the new arrangement of the sangi, 
which it will be recalled were differently placed for alternate 
digits by all early writers. Sakabe remarks that "it is ancient 
usage to arrange these sometimes horizontally and sometimes 
vertically, . . . but this is far from being a praiseworthy plan, 
it being a tedious matter to rearrange whenever the places of 
the digits are moved forwards or backwards." He adds: "I 
therefore prefer to teach my pupils in my own way, in spite 
of the ancient custom. Those who wish to know the shorter 
method should adopt this modern plan." 

Sakabe classifies quadratic equations according to three 
types, much as such Eastern writers as Al-Khowarazmi and 
Omar Khayyam had done long before, and as was the custom 
until relatively modern times in Europe. His types were as 

ax 2 + bx + c = o, 

ax* + bx c = o, 
ax 2 bx + c = o, 

and for these he gives rules that are equivalent to the formulas 


He takes, as will be seen, only the positive roots, neglecting 
the question of imaginaries, a type never considered in pure 
Japanese mathematics. 1 

1 Seki knew that there are equations with no roots, the musho shiki 
(equations without roots), but of the nature of the imaginary he seems to 



XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

Among his one hundred ninety-six problems is one in Book VI 
to find the smallest circle that can be touched internally by a 
given ellipse at the end of its minor axis, and the largest one 
that can be touched externally by a given ellipse at the end 
of its major axis. To solve the latter part he takes a sphere 
inscribed in a cylinder and cuts it by a plane through a point 
of contact, and concludes that the diameter of the maximum 
circle is # 2 ' b, where a is the minor axis and b is the 
major axis. For the other case he finds the diameter to be 
&* -- a. 

Sakabe gives some attention to indeterminate equations. 
Thus in solving (Problem 104) the equation 

2# 2 + 7 2 = Z 2 

he takes any even number for x and separates x* into two 
factors, m and n, then taking 

y = m ;/, z = m + n. 

Among the geometric problems is the following (No. 138): 
"There is a triangle which is divided into smaller triangles by 
oblique lines so drawn from the vertex that the small inscribed 
circles as shown in the figure are all equal. Given the altitude 
k of the triangle and the diameter d of the circle inscribed 

have been ignorant. In Kawai's Kaishlki Shimpo (1803) the statement is 
made that there may be a mitsJw (without root), that is, a root that is 
neither positive nor negative, but nothing is said as to the nature of such 
a root. 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 211 

in the triangle, required to find the diameter of one of the n 
equal circles." His solution may be expressed by the formula 

where x is the required diameter. 

In his Book X Sakabe gives some interesting methods of 
summing a series, but none that involved any principle not 
already known in Japan and in the world at large. They include 
the general plan of breaking simple series into partial geometric 
series, as in this case: 

s = i + 2r + 3/- a + 4^ + 

= i + r + r 2 + r* + 

+ r + r 2 + r* + 

+ r 2 + 7-3 + 

In the same way he sums 
i + r + 6r 2 + 

557-4 + . 
and so on, these including the general types 

i = co X-= /' . /:= oo k = z' 

". 2 (2 

I r 





212 XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

In the extraction of roots Sakabe gives (Problem 167) a 

rule for the evaluation of V N that has some interest. He 
takes any number a^ such that a" is approximately equal 

to N. From this he obtains a 2 = N-a"~ I . Then the real 

value of VN will evidently lie between a t and a 2 , so that he 
takes for his third approximation a 3 = (a,. + a 2 ), increasing 


or decreasing this slightly if it is known that YN lies nearer 
#! or a 2 , respectively. He next calculates # 4 = N -: - a 3 " -1 , 
and continues this process as far as desired. Thus, to find 


1/0.125, let us take a x = 0.66. Then we find 
a = 0.6597541, 

* 3 = 0.6597539553865 

where a 2 is correct to 5 decimal places and a 3 to 12 decimal 

Sakabe gives many other interesting problems, including 

various applications of the yenri. Among his results is the 
following series: 

^L = I _jL_ *-4 (i. 3). (4- 6) (i. 3. 5). (4. 6. 8) 

4 " 5 5-7-9 5-7-9-H.I3 5-7 15-17 

He also treats of the length of the arc in terms of the chord 
and altitude, as several writers had already done in the pre- 
ceding century, and he was the first Japanese to publish rules 
for finding the circumference or an arc of the ellipse. 1 

Sakabe also wrote in 1803 a work entitled the Rippo Eijiku, 2 
in which he treated of the cubic equation, the roots being 
expressed in a form resembling continued fractions which in- 
volved only square roots.3 In 1812 he published his Kwanki- 

1 Ajima is doubtfully said to have discovered these rules, but he did not 
print them. Sakabe was the first to treat of the ellipse in a printed work. 

2 Or Rippo Eichikic. Literally, Methods of approximating by increase and 
decrease (the root of) a cubic. 

3 This work was never printed. The same plan had been attempted by 
one Fujita Seishin, of Tatebayashi in Joshu, and his manuscript had been 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 2 1 3 

kodo-shohd? a work on spherical trigonometry, and in 1816 
his Kairo-anshinroku? a work on scientific navigation. 

The best-known of Sakabe's pupils was Kawai Kyutoku,3 a 
shogunate samurai of high rank and at one time a Superintendent 
of Finance. In 1803 Kawai published his Kaishiki ShimpoS 
although it is suspected that Sakabe may have had a hand in 
writing it. He records in the preface that Sakabe had told how 
in his day some European and Chinese works had appeared 
in Japan, but that in none of them was found so general a 
method as he himself laid before his pupils. Indeed there was 
some truth in this boast, since the subject considered was the 
numerical higher equation, and, as we have seen, Horner's 
method had long been known in the East. It was here that 
China and Japan actually led the world, and when Sakabe 
and Kawai improved upon the work of their countrymen 
they a fortiori improved upon the rest of the mathematical 

This improvement consisted first in abandoning the sangi in 
favor of the sorobanp an ideal of all of the Japanese mathe- 
maticians of the eighteenth century. In the second place the 
general plan of work was simplified, as will be seen from the 
following summary of the process: 

Let an equation of the #th degree, whose coefficients are 
integers, either positive or negative, be represented by 

! + a 2 x + a^x 2 + a n x H ~ "* + a >l+I x n = o. 

The n roots are generally positive or negative according as 
the pairs of coefficients (0 W + 1 , ), (, *_,), ( a > *,) have 
different signs or the same sign. The ^th of these roots 
(r= I, 2, 3 ) may be found as follows: 

submitted to Sakabe, who found it so complicated that he proceeded to 
simplify it in this work. 

1 Literally, A short way to measure spherical arcs by the telescopic ob 
servation of heavenly bodies. 

2 Literally, The safety of navigation. 

3 Or Kawai Hisanori. 

4 New method of solving equations. 

5 See Kawai, Kaishiki Shimpo (1803); and Endu, Book III, p. 53. 

214 XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

First write 

Then take 

and let B=~> 

A may be assigned any value so long as P shall not have 
a different sign from a n _ r , t and <2 sna 'l n t have a different 
sign from a M _ r+a . 

Next proceed in the same way with A', denoting the result 
by B'. 

If now we shall find either that 

A > B and A < B' 
or that A < B and A' > B' , 

then there will be in general a root of the equation between 
A and A'. Now by narrowing the limits between which the 
root lies a first approximation may be reached, but it suffices 
for a rough approximation to take the average of A, A', B 
and B'. 

Repeat the same process with the first approximation as 
was followed with A and thus obtain a second approximation, 
and so on. 

For example, take the equation 

3360 2174*+ 249* 2 x* = o. 

Since # 3 and 4 have different signs, the first root is positive. 
Let us begin with A = 10. 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 215 

Then _ 36, 


336 -21/4 =-1838, 



- 183.8 + 249 = 65.2 = p. 
Also Q = i, 

so that B = ~ = 6$ . 2. 

Similarly y2 = 10 =65.2 

/f = 100 .5' = 227 

^" = 230 " = 239.6 

A'"=2$o "'=240.3, 

which shows that the first root lies between A" and A"', since 

A" < B" and A"' > B'". 

_ = 239.975, or nearly 240, 

which is the first approximation. 

In the same way the approximate second root is 7.21. The 
rest of the computation is along lines previously known and 
already described. 

In 1820 an architect named Hirauchi Teishin 1 published a 
work entitled Sampo Hengyd Shinan? and later the Shoka 
Kiku Ydkai,* both intended for men of his profession and for 
engineers. Much use is made of graphic computation, as in 
the extraction of the cube root by the use of line intersections. 
In 1840 Hirauchi wrote another work, the Sampo Chokujutsu 
SeikaiS in which he treated of the geometric properties of 

1 Also known by his earlier name of Fukuda Teishin. 

2 Also transliterated Sampo -Henkei- ski nan. Literally, Treatise on the 
Hengyo method, Hengyo meaning the changing of forms. 

3 Literally, A short treatise on the line methods. 

4 Exact notes on direct mathematical methods. 

2l6 XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

figures rather than of their mensuration. While the book had 
no special merit, it is worthy of note as being a step towards 
pure geometry, a subject that had been generally neglected 
in Japan, as indeed in the whole East. 

It often happens in the history of mathematics, as in history 
in general, that some particular branch seems to show itself 
spontaneously and to become epidemic. It was so with algebra 
in medieval China, with trigonometry among the Arabs, with 
the study of equations in the sixteenth century Italian algebra, 
and with the calculus in the seventeenth century. So it was 
with the study of geometry in Japan. In the same year that 
Hirauchi brought out his first little work (1820), Yoshida Juku 
published his Kikujutsu Dzukai* in which he attempted the 
solution of a considerable number of problems by the use of 
the ruler and compasses. It is true that this study had 
already been begun by Mizoguchi, and had been carried on 
by Murata Koryu under whom Yoshida had studied, but the 
latter was the first of the Mizoguchi school 2 to bring the 
material together into satisfactory form. 

About this time there lived in Osaka a teacher named Takeda 
Shingen, who published in 1824 his Sampo Benran,* in which 
the fan problems of the period appear (Fig. 42), and whose 
school exercised considerable influence in the western provinces. 
He also wrote the Shingen Sampo, a work that was published 
by his son in 1844. The old epigram which he adopted "There 
is no reason without number, nor is there number without 
reason," is well known in Japan. 

It is, however, with the early stages of geometry that we 
are interested at this period, and the next noteworthy writer 
upon the subject was Hashimote Shoho, who published his 
Sampo Tenzan Shogakus/w* in 1830. The particular feature 

1 Illustrated treatise on the line method. His works are thought by 
some to have been written by Hasegawa. 

2 ENDO, Book III, p. 91. 

3 Mathematical methods conveniently revealed. He is sometimes known 
by his familiar name, Tokunoshin. 

4 Tenzan method for beginners. 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 2 1/ 

of interest in his work is the geometric treatment of the center 
of gravity of a figure. One of his problems is to find by 
geometric drawing the center of gravity of a quadrilateral, 
and the figure is given, although without explanation. 1 

This problem of the center of gravity now began to attract 
a good deal of attention in Japan. Perhaps the first real study 2 
of the question was made by Takahashi Shiji, since a manu- 
script entitled Toko Scnsei Chojutsu Mokuroku* mentions a 
work of his upon this subject. Since this writer was acquainted 
with the Dutch language and science, he doubtless received 
his inspiration from this source. His son Takahashi Keiho 4 
(1786-1830) was, like himself, on the Astronomical Board of 

Fig. 42. From Takeda Shingen's Sampo Benran (1824). 

the Shogunate, and was imprisoned from 1828 until his death 
in 1830, for exchanging maps with Siebold, whose work is 
mentioned in Chapter XIV. 

Of the other minor writers of the opening of the nineteenth 
century the most prominent was Hasegawa Kan,s who published 
his Sampo Shins ho (New Treatise on Mathematics) in 1830 

1 ENDO, Book III, p. 107, gives a conjectural explanation. He is of 
the opinion that both the problem and the solution come from European 

2 The germ of the theory is found in Seki's writings. 

3 List of Master Toko's writings, T6ko being his nom de plume. 

4 Or Takahashi Kageyasu. 

5 Or Hasegawa Hiroshi. 


XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 

under the name of one of his pupils. Hasegawa Kan was 
himself a pupil, and indeed the first and best-known pupil, of 
Kusaka Sei, the same who had studied under the celebrated 
Ajima, and hence he had good mathematical ancestry. His 
work was a compendium of mathematics, containing the 
soroban arithmetic, the "Celestial Element" algebra, the tenzan 
algebra, the yenri, and a little work on geometry, includ- 
ing some study of roulettes (Fig. 43). So well written was 
it that it became the most popular mathematical treatise in 

Fig. 43. From Hasegawa Kan's Sampo Shinsho (1849 edition). 

the country and brought to its author much repute as a 
skilled compiler. Nevertheless the publication of this work 
led to great bitterness on the part of the Seki school, in- 
asmuch as it made public the final secrets of the yenri that 
had been so jealously preserved by the members of this 
educational sect. 1 His act caused his banishment from among 
the disciples of Seki, 2 but it ended the ancient regime of secrecy 

* The yenri here described is not the same as that of Ajima or Wada. 

* ENDO attributes his banishment to his having appropriated to his own 
use the money collected for printing Ajima's Fukyu Sampo. 

XI. The Opening of the Nineteenth Century. 219 

in matters mathematical. Hasegawa died in 1838 at the age 
of fifty-six years. 1 

Among the noteworthy features of the Sampo Shinsho 
mention should be made of the reversion of series* in one of 
the geometric problems, and of the device of using limiting 
forms for the purpose of effecting some of the solutions. One 
of his algebraic-geometric problems is this: Given the diameters 
of the three escribed circles of a triangle to find the diameter 
of the inscribed circle. By considering the case in which the 
three escribed circles are equal, as one of the limits of form, 
Hasegawa gets on track of the general solution, a device that 
is commonly employed when we first consider a special case 
and attempt to pass from that to the general case in geometry. 
The principle met with severe criticism, it being obvious that 
we cannot reason from the square as a limit back to a rectangle 
on the one hand and a rhombus on the other. Nevertheless 
Hasegawa was very skilful in its use, and in 1835 he wrote 
another treatise upon the subject, the Sampo Kyoku-gyo Shi- 
nan,^ published under the name of his pupil,'* Akita Yoshiichi 
of Yedo. 

It thus appears that the opening years of the nineteenth century 
were characterized by a greater infiltration of western learning, 
by some improvement in the tenzan algebra, and by the initial 
steps in pure geometry. None of the names thus far mentioned 
is especially noteworthy, and if these were all we should feel 
that Japanese mathematics had taken several steps backward. 
There was, however, one name of distinct importance in the 
early years of the century, and this we have reserved for a 
special chapter, the name of Wada Nei. 

1 Professor Hayashi gives the dates 1792-1832. But see ENDO, Book II, 
p. 12, and KAWAKITA'S article in the Honcho Siigakn Koenshu, p. 17. 

2 An essentially similar problem, in connection with a literal equation of 
infinite degree, seems to have been first studied by Wada Nei. 

3 Treatise on the method of limiting forms. 

4 A custom of Hasegawa's. See the note on Hirauchi, above. 

Wada Nei. 

It will be recalled that in the second half of the eighteenth 
century Ajima added worthily to the yenri theory, bringing for 
the first time to the mathematical world of Japan a knowledge 
of a kind of integral calculus for the quadrature of areas and 
the cubature of volumes. The important work thus started by 
him was destined to be transmitted through his pupil, Kusaka 
Sei, 1 to a worthy successor of whom we shall now speak at 
some length. 

Wada Yenzo Nei (i/S/'iS^), 2 a samurai of Mikazuki in the 
province of Harima, was born in Yedo. His original name 
was Koyama Naoaki, and in early life he served in Yedo in 
the Buddhist temple called by the name Zojoji. He then 
changed his name for some reason, and is generally known 
in the scientific annals of his country as Wada Nei. After 
leaving the temple life he took up mathematics under the 
tutelage of Lord Tsuchimikado, hereditary calendar-maker to 
the Court of the Mikado. He first studied pure mathematics 
under a certain scholar of the Miyagi school, and then under 
Kusaka Sei. As has already been mentioned, this Kusaka 
compiled the Ftikyu Sampo from the results of his contact 
with Ajima, thus bringing into clear light the teaching of his 
master. Although it must be confessed that he did not have the 
genius of Ajima, nevertheless Kusaka was a remarkable teacher, 

1 ENDO, Book III, p. 127. See p. 172. 

2 KOIDE, Yenri Sankyo, preface. See Chapter XIV. 

XII. Wada Nei. 221 

giving to mathematics a charm that fascinated his pupils and 
that inspired them to do very commendable work. Money 
had no attraction for him, and he lived a life of poverty, 
dying in 1839 at the age of seventy-five years. 1 

As to Wada, no book of his was ever published, and all 
of his large number of manuscripts, which were in the keeping 
of Lord Tsuchimikado, were consumed by fire, 2 that great 
and ever-present scourge of Japan that has destroyed so much 
of her science and her letters. Eking out a living by fortune- 
telling and by teaching penmanship, as well as by giving 
instruction in mathematics, 3 selling some of his manuscripts to 
gratify his thirst for liquor, Wada's life had little of happiness 
save what came as the reward of his teaching. He claimed 
to have had among his pupils some of the most distinguished 
mathematicians of his day, 4 men who came to him to learn 
in secret, recognizing his genius as an investigator and as a 

It will be recalled that Ajima had practiced his integration 
by cutting a surface into what were practically equal elements 
and summing these by a somewhat laborious process, and 
then passing to the limit for n = oo. In a similar manner he 
found the volumes of solids. In every case some special series 
had to be summed, and it was here that the operation became 
tedious. Wada therefore set about to simplify matters by con- 
structing a set of tables to accomplish the work of the modern 
table of integrals. Since his expression for "to integrate" was 
the Japanese word "to fold" (tatamu], these aids to calculation 
were called "folding tables" (jo-Jiyd), and of these he is known 

1 ENDO, Book III, p. 121; C. KAWAKITA'S article in the Honcho Sitgaku 
Koenshu, p. 17; KOIDE, Yenri Sankyo, preface. 
* KOIDE, Yenri Sankyo, MS. of 1842, preface. 

3 ENDO, Book III, p. 128. 

4 The original list on some waste paper is now in the possession of 
N. Okamoto. The list includes the names of Shiraishi, Kawai, Uchida, 
SaitO, and Ushijima, with many others. 

5 See also ENDO, Book III, p. 86. 


XII. Wada Nei. 

to have left twenty-one, arranged in pamphlet form and bearing 
distinctive names. 1 

In 1818 Wada wrote the Yenri Shinko in two books, published 
only in manuscript. In this he begins by computing the area 
of a circle in the following manner: 

The diameter is first divided into 2n equal parts. Then, 
drawing the lines as shown in the figure, it is evident that 


D, D; 









D D ' = 

r r n ' 

1 ENDO, Book III, p. 74. 

XII. Wada Nei. 223 

Hence twice the area of D D" N" N 

r r i i > i 

_d 2 ( __ ^ __ I.H 1.37-6 _ I _L3^S^ 8 _ \ 

n \ 2n* 2-44 2. 4. 66^8 

Summing for r = I, 2, 3, . . . #, we have 

d* f i * i " \ 

77 v* - ^ 2 r * ~ ^^4 2 rl> )' 

Multiplying, and then proceeding to the limit for n = oo, we 
have the area of the circle expressed by the formula 

a== d 2 (i - _J_ *-3 1.3-5 \ 

2.3 2.4.5 

In the two operations of summing and proceeding to the limit 
Wada makes use of his "folding tables." 

By a similar process Wada finds the circumference to be 

I* I 2 . 


3! 5! 7! 

and he obtains formulas for the area of a segment of a circle 
bounded by an arc and a chord, or by two arcs and two 
parallel chords. 1 It is also said that he gave upwards of a 
hundred infinite series expressing directly or indirectly the 
value of it, 2 among which were the following: 

1 For the complete treatment see HARZER, P., loc. cit., p. 33 of the Kiel 
reprint of 1905. HARZER shows that the formula used is essentially Newton's 
of 1666, given later by Wallis. 

2 ENDO, A short account of the progress in finding the value of n in Japan 
(in Japanese), in the Rigakkai, vol. Ill, No. 4, p. 24. 

224 XII. Wada Nei. 


_ _ 

3.2 5.8 7-48 9-384 11-3840 

^ = J_ JL 4. _A_ *5 , I0 5 , __945_ 
4 " 3 5-2 7-8 9-48 T 11.384 ~ 13.3840 "* 

JL , _1_ , _3__ , _L5_ I0 5 , 945 
8 "3 15-2 35-8 63.48 " r 99.384 T 143-3840 

. *. i. 4. L. 4. - 3 - 4. I5 4- J 5 4- . 
32 15 T 35.2 f 63.8 ^ 99.48 T 143-384 ^ 

= T _ l 4. A__ I ! + Ii_J?45 , ... 
4 3 15 I0 5 945 10395 T 

TT = _i 3 , IS , i5 , . 

2 1/2^ 3- 2 - 2 5-8-22 ">" 7.48.23 9. 384. 24 ^ 

the larger numbers in the denominators of these formulas being 

2, 2.4, 2.4.6, . .. 

3. 3-5 3-5-7, 
i-3, 3-5, 5-7, 

The same principle that he applies to the circle he also uses 
in connection with the ellipse, 1 finding the perimeter to be 2 

where ; = ( i ), and where for n=i the term is to 

4 N a 2 / 

be taken as in. 

Wada also turned his attention to the computation of volumes, 
simplifying Ajima's work on the two intersecting cylinders, and 
in general developing a very good working type of the integral 
calculus so far as it has to do with the question of men- 

The question of maxima and minima had already been con- 
sidered by Seki more than a century before Wada's time, the 

1 In his Setsu-kei Jun-gyakit. 

2 ENDO, Book III, p. 81. 

XII. Wada Nei. 225 

rule employed being not unlike the present one of equating, a 
differential coefficient to zero, although no explanation was 
given for the method. Naturally it had attracted the attention 
of many mathematicians of the Seki school, but no one had 
ventured upon any discussion of the reasons underlying the 
rule. The question is still an open one as to where Seki 
obtained the method. In the surreptitious intercourse with the 
West it would be just such a rule that would tend to find its 
way through the barred gateway, it being more difficult to 
communicate a whole treatise. At any rate the rule was known 
in the early days of the Seki school, and it remained un- 
explained for more than a century, and until Wada took up 
the question. 1 He not only gave the .reason for the rule, but 
carried the discussion still further, including in his theory the 
subject of the maximum and minimum values of infinite series. 2 ^ 
In this way he was able to apply the theory to questions in- 
volved in the yenri where, as we have seen, infinite series are 
always found. 

In 1825 Wada wrote a work entitled lyen Sampo* in which 
he treated of what he calls "circles of different species." He 
says that "if the area of a square be multiplied by the moment 
of circular area 4 it is altered 5 into a circle, and we have the 
area (of this circle). If the area of a rectangle be multiplied 
by the moment of circular area it is altered into an ellipse, 
and we have the area (of this ellipse). If the volume of a 
cube or a cuboid be multiplied by the moment of the spheri- 
cal volume, 6 it is altered into a sphere or a spheroid, and 
we have its volume. These are processes that are well known. 
It is possible to generalize the idea, however, applying these 

1 It is found in his manuscript entitled Tekijin Ho-kyii-fw, 

2 ENDO, Book III, p. 83. 

3 On Circles of different species. 

4 I. e., by . We would say, a = Ttr*. The Japanese, however, always 
considered the diameter instead of the radius. 

5 This seems the best word by which to express the Japanese form. 

6 I. e., by it. 


XII. Wada Nei. 

processes to the isosceles trapezium, to the rectangular pyr- 
amid, and so on, obtaining circles and spheres of different 

For example, given an ellipse inscribed in the rectangle 
ABCD as here shown. Take YY' the midpoints of DC and 
AB, respectively and construct the isosceles triangle A BY. 

Draw any line parallel to AB cutting the ellipse in P and Q, 
and the triangle in M and N, as shown. Now take two 
points P e , Q' on PQ, symmetric with respect to YY', and 
such that AB:MN=PQ:P'Q'. Then the locus of P' and 
Q' becomes a curve of the form shown in the figure, touching 
AY and BY at their mid-points X' and X, and the line AB 

XII. Wada Nei. 227 

at F'. If now we let YY' = a, and X'X=b, we may con- 
sider three species of curve, 1 namely for a~>b, a b, a<ib. 

Wada then finds the area inclosed by this curve to be 
Tiafi, the process being similar to the one employed for the 
other curvilinear figures. He also generalizes the proposition 
by taking an isosceles trapezium instead of the isosceles triangle 
ABY, the area being found, as before, to be nab, where 
a and b are FF' and X' X in the new figure. 

Wada also devoted his attention to the study of roulettes, 
being the first mathematician in Japan who is known to have 
considered these curves. It is told how he one time hung 
before the temple of Atago, in Yedo, the results of his studies 
of this subject, although doing so in the name of one of his 
pupils. The problem and the solution are of sufficient interest 
to be quoted in substantially the original form. 2 

"There is a wheel with center A as in the figure, on the 
circumference of which is the center of a second wheel B, 
while on the circumference of B is the center of a third 

1 Wada calls these the seito-yen (flourishing flame-shaped circle), hoshu-yen, 
and suito-yen (fading flame-shaped circle). 

2 From the original. See also ENDO, Book III, p. 103. 



XII. Wada Nei. 

wheel, C. Beginning when the center C is farthest from the 
center A, the center B moves along the circumference of A, 
to the right, while the center C moves along the circum- 
ference of B, also to the right, the motions having the same 
angular velocity so that C and B return to their initial positions 
at the same time. Let the locus described by C be known 
as the ki-yen (the tortoise circle). Given the diameters of the 
wheels A and B, where the maximum of the latter should be 
half of the former, required to find the area of the ki-yen. 

"Answer should be given according to the following rule: 
Take the diameter of the wheel B; square it and double; add 
the square of the diameter of A; multiply by the moment of 
the circular area, and the result is the area of the ki-yen. 

"A pupil of Wada Yenzo Nei, the founder of new theories 
in the yenri, sixth in succession of instruction in the School 
of Seki." 1 

Wada's work in the domain of maxima and minima was 
carried on by a number of his contemporaries or immediate 


successors, among whom none did more for the theory than 
Kemmochi Yoshichi Shoko. His contribution* to the subject 
is called the Yenri Kyoku-su Shokai (Detailed account of the 

1 The rule is equivalent to saying that the area is IT (a* -J- 2<$ 2 ), where 
a and b are the diameters of A and B. Possibly this pupil was Koide Shuki. 
Wada's detailed solution is lost. 

2 Unpublished, and exact date unknown. 

XII. Wada Nei. 229 

Circle-Principle method of finding Maxima and Minima), and 
contains two problems. The first of these problems is to find 
the shortest circular arc of which the altitude above its chord 
is unity. For this he gives two solutions, each too long to 
be given in this connection. His second problem is to con- 
struct a right triangle ABC with hypotenuse equal to unity, 
such that the arc A A' described with C' as a center, as in 
the figure, shall be the maximum, and to find the length of 
this maximum arc. 1 

1 In KEMMOCHI'S work there are certain transcendental equations which 
are solved by an approximation method known in Japan by the name Kanrui- 
jutsii, possibly due to SaitS Gigi or his father. Kemmochi certainly learned 
it from him. He also wrote a work usually attributed to Iwai Juyen, the 
Sampo yenri hio shaku, one of the first to explain the Kwatsu-jutsu method. 
It should be mentioned that the cycloid had been considered before Wada's 
time by Shizuki Tadao, who discussed it in his Rekisho Shinsho (1800). 

The Close of the Old Wasan. 

Having now spoken of Wada's notable advance in the yenri 
or Circle Principle, in which he developed an integral calculus 
that served the ordinary purposes of mensuration, there remains 
a period of activity in this same field between the time in 
which he flourished and the opening of Japan to foreign com- 
merce, which period marks the close of the old wasan, or 
native mathematics. Part of this period includes the labors 
of some of Wada's contemporaries, and part of it those of the 
next succeeding generation, but in no portion of it is there 
to be found a genius such as Wada. It was his work, his 
discoveries, his teaching that inspired two generations of mathe- 
maticians with the desire to further improve upon the Circle 
Principle. We have seen how the story is told that the best 
mathematicians of his day went to him in secret for the 
purpose of receiving instruction or suggestions, and it is further 
related that his range of discoveries was greater than his regular 
pupils knew, and that some of these discoveries appear as the 
work of others. This is mere rumor so far as any trust- 
worthy evidence goes to show, but it lets us know the high 
estimate that was placed upon his abilities. 

Among his contemporaries who gave serious attention to 
the yenri was a merchant of Yedo by the name of lyezaki 
Zenshi who published a work in two parts, the Gomel Sampo, 
of which the first part appeared in 1814 and the second in 
1826. There is a charming little touch of Japan in the fact 
that many of the problems relate to figures, and in particular 
to groups of ellipses, that can be drawn upon a folding fan, 
that is, upon a sector of an annulus. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 23 I 

lyezaki gives also some problems in the yenri of a rather 
advanced nature. For example, he gives the area of the 
maximum circular segment that can be inscribed in an isosceles 
triangle of base b and so as to touch the equal sides s, as 

He also states that if an arc be described within a right 
triangle, upon the hypotenuse as the chord, and if a circle be 
drawn touching this arc and the two sides of the triangle, the 
maximum diameter of this circle is 

where a, b and c are the sides. 

Contemporary with lyezaki, or immediately following him, 
were several other writers who paid attention to figures drawn 

Fig. 44. From Yamada Jisuke's Sampo Tenzan Shinan 
(Bunkwa era, 1804 1818). 

upon fans. Among these may be mentioned Yamada Jisuke 
whose Sampd Tenzan Shinan (Instructor in the tenzan mathe- 
matics) appeared early in the century (see Fig. 44); Takeda 
Tokunoshin whose Kaitei Sampd appeared in 1818 (see Fig. 45); 
Ishiguro Shin-yu (see Fig. 46), already mentioned in Chapter V 

232 XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

as the last Japanese writer to make much of the practice of 
proposing problems for his rivals to solve; and Matsuoka 

Fig. 45. From Takeda Tokunoshin's Kaitei Sampo (1818). 

Fig. 46. Tangent problem from Ishiguro Shin-yu (1813). 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


Yoshikazu, whose Sangaku Keiko Daizen, an excellent com- 
pendium of mathematics, appeared in 1808 and again in 1849. 

Also contemporary with lyezaki was Shiraishi Chochu (1796- 
1862) who published a work entitled SJiamei Sampu* in 1826. 
He was a samurai in the service of Lord Shimizu, a near 
relative of the Shogun. While most of the problems in this 
treatise relate to the yenri, there is some interesting work in 
the line of indeterminate equations. One of these equations 
bears the name of Gokai Ampon, and like the rest was hung 
before some temple. The problem is as follows: 

"There are three integral numbers, heaven, earth, and man, 
which being cubed and added together give a result of which 
the cube root has no decimal part. Required to find the 

The problem is, of course, to solve the equation x* + j3 + z* 
= # 3 i n integers. The solution is given in Gokai's name, and 
he is known to have been an able mathematician, but whether 
it was his or Shiraishi's is unknown. In a manuscript com- 
mentary on the work 2 the following discussion of the equation 

First a table is constructed as follows: 

I 3 + 

7 = 


123 + 

469= 133 

23 + 

19 = 

3 3 

133 + 

547= 143 

3 3 + 

37 = 


I4 3 + 

631 = 153 

4 3 + 

61 = 

5 3 

i5 3 + 

721 = 163 

5 3 + 

91 = 

6 3 

l6 3 + 

817= 173 

i7 3 + 

r\j } - r83 

913 10 

o 3 + 

T 1 _l_ 

127 = 

7 3 


I 83 + 

1027 = 193 

7 j + 


83 + 
03 + 

217 = 

9 3 

53 3 + 

8587 = 543 

IQ3 + 


113 + 

397 = 



1 Mathematical Results hung in Temples. 

2 Shamei Sampu Kaigi. 

3 In the table these missing numbers are given, but they are not necessary 
for our purposes. 

234 xni - The CIose of the Old VVasan. 

Taking the second terms, 7, 19, 37, . . ., it will be seen that 
the successive differences are as follows: 

7 19 37 61 91 127 

12 1 8 24 30 36 


We can thus easily pick out the numbers that are the sums 
of two cubes, such as 91 = 3 3 + 4 3 , 1027 = 3 3 4- io 3 , and so 
on, and frame the corresponding relations as has been done 
in the table, adding others at will, such as 

I97 3 + 117019= I98 3 
3O6 3 + 281827 = 307 3 . 
Then writing n=y+ i, 

from A' 3 + jF 3 + z* = 3 

we can derive 

Then writing the selected equalities in the form 

4 3 + 53+33= 6 3 3i 3 + iO2 3 H- i2 3 = 

IQ3 + 1 83 + 33 = 193 463 + 1973 + 273 = 

193 + 533 + 123 = 543 643 + 306^ + 273 == 3075 

we notice that our values of x, y, z, and n may be expressed 
as follows: 

*3.i + i 3-3 + 1 3-6+1 3.10+1 3.15 + 1 3-2i + i 

y 5 18 53 102 197 306 

a 3- 12 3-i 2 3-2 2 3-2 2 3-3 2 3-3 2 

n 6 19 54 103 198 307 

We therefore see that z is of the form 3 2 . Corresponding 
to this value of z, x is of the form 

where r= 2 I or 2 a, alternately. That is, 
x = 6a 2 + 3 + i. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


Substituting these values in (i) we have 

324<2 6 + 432^5 + 360^+ i8o#3 + 6oa*_ \2a + i 

= 4j 2 + 47 + i 
from which 

y = 9^3 + 6a 2 + $a, or ga* 6a 2 + $a i, 
and n = y + i = 9# 3 + 6<2 2 + 30+1, or 9^3_6 rt 2 + 30, 

which gives the general solution. 

Among the geometric problems given by Shiraishi two, given 
in Ikada's name, may be mentioned as types. 

The first is as follows: "An ellipse is inscribed in a rectangle, 
and four circles which are equal in pairs are described as 
shown in the figure, A and B touching the ellipse at the same 
point. Given the diameters (a and b} of the circles, required 
to find the minor axis of the ellipse." The result is given as 
a + b + V(2a + d) b. 

The second problem is to find the volume cut from a sphere 
by a regular polygonal prism whose axis passes through the 
center of the sphere. 

There are also two problems given as solved by Shiraishi's 
pupils Yokoyama and Baishu, of which one is to find the volume 


XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

cut from a cylinder by another cylinder that intersects it 
orthogonally and touches a point on the surface, and the 
other is to find the volume cut from a sphere by an elliptic 
cylinder whose axis passes through the center. 

The Shamei Sampu contains a number of problems of this 
general nature, including the finding of the spherical surface 
that remains when a sphere is pierced by two equal circular 
cylinders that are tangent to each other in a line through the 

Fig. 47. From Iwai Juyen's Sampo Zasso (1830). 

center of the sphere; the finding of the area cut from a 
spherical surface by a cylinder whose surface is tangent to 
the spherical surface at one point; the finding of the volume 
cut from a cone pierced orthogonally to its axis by a cylinder, 
and the finding the surface of an ellipsoid. 

Shiraishi also wrote a work entitled Suri Mujinzo* but it 

1 An inexhaustible Fountain of Mathematical Knowledge. It is given in 
Ikeda's name. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


was never printed. It is a large collection of formulas and 
relations of a geometric nature. His pupil Kimura Shoju 
published in 1828 the Onchi Sanso which also contained 

T ^ - 

Fig. 48. From Aida Yasuaki's Sampo Ko-kon Tsiiran. 

238 XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

numerous problems relating to areas and volumes. Interesting 
tangent problems analogous to those given by Shiraishi are 
found in numerous manuscripts of the nineteenth century. 
Illustrations are seen in Figs. 50 and 51, from an undated 
manuscript by one Ivvasaki Toshihisa, and in Fig. 48, from 
a work by Aida Yasuaki. 

Another work applying the yenri to mensuration, the Sampo 
Zasso, by Iwai Juyen (or Shigeto), appeared in 1830. Iwai 
was a wealthy farmer living in the province of'Joshu and he 
had studied under Shiraishi. He also gives the problem of 
the intersecting cylinders (see Fig. 47), and the problem of 
finding the area of a plane section of an anchor ring. In 

Fig. 49. From Hori-ike's Yomw Sampo (1829). 

1837 Iwai published a second work entitled Yenri Hyoshaku? 
although it is said that this was written by Kemmochi Yoshichi. 
In this the higher order of operations of the yeuri were first 
made public, and some notion of projection appears. Another 
work published in the same year, the Keppi Sampo by Hori- 
ike Hisamichi, resembles it in these respects. Hori-ike's Yo- 
mio Sampo (1829) contains some interesting fan problems 
(see Fig. 49). 

More talented as a mathematician, however, and much more 
popular, was Uchida Gokan, 2 who at the age of twenty-seven 

1 The Method of the Circle Principle explained. 
1 Or Uchida Itsumi. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


Fig. 50. Tangent problem, from a manuscript by Iwasaki Toshihisa. 


XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

published a work that brought him at once into prominence. 
Uchida was born in 1805 and studied mathematics under 
Kusaka, taking immediate rank as one of his foremost pupils. 
In 1832 he published his Kokon Sankan' 1 in two books which 
included a number of problems that were entirely new, and 
did much to make the higher yenri. Sections of an elliptic 
wedge, for example, were new features in the mathematics of 
Japan, and the following problems showed his interest in the 
older questions as well: 

There is a rectangle in which are inscribed an ellipse and 
four circles as shown in the figure. Given the diameters of 
the three circles A, B and C, viz., a, b and c, it is required 
to find the diameter of the circle D. 

The rule given is as follows: Divide a and b by c, and take 
the difference between the square roots of these quantities. 
To this difference add i and square the result This multiplied 
by c gives the diameter of D. This rule was suspected by 
the contemporaries and the immediate successors of Uchida, 
but they were unable to show that it was false.* Uchida was, 

i Mirror (model) of ancient and modern Mathematical Problems. 
* For this information the authors are indebted to T. HAGIWARA, the only 
survivor, up to his death in 1909, of the leaders of the old Japanese school. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


however, aware of it, although it appears in none of his 
writings. 1 Uchida also gave several interesting fan problems 
(see Fig. 55). 

Uchida died in 1882, having contributed not unworthily 
to mathematics by his own writings, and also through the 
works of his pupils. 1 Among the latter works are Shino 
Chikyo's Kakki Sampo (1837), Kemmochi's Tan-i Sampo (1840) 


Fig. 51. Problem of spheres tangent to a tetrahedron, from a manuscript 
by Iwasaki Toshihisa. 

and Sampo Kaiwun (1848), Fujioka's Sampo Yenri-tsu (1845), 
Takenouchi's Sampo Yenri Kappatsu (1849) an d Kuwamoto 
Masaaki's Sen-yen Kattsu (1855), not to speak of several others. 

1 This information is communicated to us by C. KAWAKITA, one of 
Uchida's pupils. 

2 C. KAWAKITA'S article in the Honcho Sugaku Koen-shii, 1908, p. 20. 
Shino Chikyo's nom de plume was Kenzan. 



XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

Among the contemporaries of Wada should also be men- 
tioned Saito Gigi, whose Yenri-kan appeared in 1834. It is 
possible that the real author was Saito's father, Saito Gicho 
(1784-1844), who also took much interest in mathematics. 
Father and son were both well-to-do farmers in Joshu with 
whom mathematical work was more or less of a pastime. The 
Yenri-kan deserves this passing mention on account of the 
fact that": it contains a problem on the center of gravity, and 
several problems on roulettes. 

Fig. 52. From Kobayashi's Sampo Koren (1836). 

In 1836 appeared Kobayashi Tadayoshi's Sampo Koren in 
which is considered the volumes of intersecting cylinders and a 
problem on a skew surface. The latter is stated as follows: 
"There is a 'rhombic rectangle' 1 which looks like a rectangle 
when seen from above, and like a rhombus when seen from 
the right or left, front or back. Given the three axes, required 
the area of the surface." Here the bases are gauche quadri- 
laterals. (The drawing is shown in Fig. 52.) Saito also published 
a similar work, the Yenri Shinshin, in 1840. 

1 This is the literal translation of choku bishi. The figure is a solid and 
is denned in the problem. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


At about the same period there appeared numerous works 
of somewhat the same nature, of which the following may be 
mentioned as among the best: 

Gokai Ampon's (17961862) Sampo Semmon Sho (1840), a 
work on the advanced tenzan theory, with some treatment of 
magic squares (Fig. 54). 

*P S # f 

V A ? V 

-^ fc 

v\,. JS 


^ : 

Fig- S3- From Murata's Sampo Jikata Shinan (1835). 

Yamamoto Kazen's Sampo Jojutsu' 1 (1841), containing an 
extensive list of formulas and excellent illustrations of the 
problems of the day (see Fig. 57). 

Murata Tsunemitsu's Sokuyen Shokai (1833), relating to the 
tenzan algebra applied to the ellipse, and his Sampo Jikata 
Shinan (1835), dealing with enginering problems (Fig. 53). 
Murata's pupil Toyota wrote the Sampo Dayen-kai in 1842, 
also relating to the tenzan algebra applied to the ellipse. 2 

1 Aids in Mathematical Calculation. 

2 Besides Murata's work we have consulted ENDO, Book III, p. 129. 



XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

















; V 



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~ _ 


x N 






> N 


. ~^ 
















x> N 


x- N 








\ 7xTl 



, . 




17 L_I 


- - 











^ N 




jr ^- 







Fig. 54. Magic Squares from Gokai's Sampo Semmon Sho (1840). 

A work by a Buddhist priest, Kakudo written in Kyoto 
in 1794 and published in 1836, entitled Yenri Kiku Sampo, 
giving a summary of the yenri. 

Chiba Tanehide's Sampo Shin-sho (1830), a large compendium 
of mathematics, actually the work of Hasegawa Kan. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


Fig. 55. From Uchida's Kokon Sankan (1832). 

The Sampo Tenzan Tebikigusa, of which the first part was 
published by Yamamoto in 1833 an d the second part by 
Omura Isshu (1824 1891) in 1841. This was a treatise on 

Fig. 56. From Minami's Sampo Yenri Sandai (1846). 


XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

tenzan algebra. Some of the fan problems in this work are of 
considerable interest. (See Fig. 58.) 

Kikuchi Choryo's Sampo Seisu Kigensho (1845), a treatise 
on indeterminate analysis. 


Fig. 57. From Yamamoto Kazan's Sampo Jojutsu (1841). 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


Minami Ryoho's Sampo Yenri Sandai (1846), with some 
treatment of roulettes (see Fig. 56) and the Juntendo Sampu* 
(1847) by Iwata Seiyo and Kobayashi (not Tadayoshi). Curi- 
ously, -the first ten pages of Minami's work are numbered with 
Arabic numerals. 

Kaetsu's Sampo Yenri Katsund (1851), a work on the higher 
yenri. This was considered of such merit that it was reprinted 
in China. 

Iwasaki Toshihisa's Yachu sak kai (1831), Saku yen riu kwai 








1 : 

* ty $ ^ 
& ^ & 

Fig. 58. From Yamamoto and Omura Isshu's SampO Tenzan Tebikigusa 

(1833, 18 4 I). 

Juntendo Mathematical Problems. 

248 XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

gi, and Shimpeki sampo, all works of considerable merit in the 
line of geometric problems. 

Baba Seito's Shi-satsu Henkai (1830), generally known by 
the later title Sampo Kisho. 

Hasegawa Ko's Kyuseki Tsuko* (1844), published under the 
name of his pupil Uchida Kyumei. This is more important 
than the works just mentioned. It consists of five books and 
gives a very systematic treatment of the yenri, beginning 
with the theory of limits and the use of the "folding tables" 
of Wada Nei. It treats of the circular wedge and its sections, 
of the intersections of cylinders and spheres (see Fig. 59), of 
ovals, or circles of various classes, as studied by Wada, and 
also of the cycloid and epicycloid. 

The study of the catenary begins about 1860. The first to 
give it attention were Omura and Kagami, but the first printed 
work in which it is discussed is the Sampo Hoyen-kan (1862) 
of Hagiwara Teisuke (1828 1909). Another interesting problem 
which appears in this work is that of the locus of the point of 
contact of a sphere ' and plane, the sphere rolling around on 
the plane and always touching an anchor ring that is normal 
to and tangent to the plane. Hagiwara also published a work 
entitled Sampo Yenri Shiron (1866) in which he corrected the 
results of thirty-four problems given in twenty-two works 
published at various dates from the appearance of Arima's 
Shuki Sampo (1769) to his own time (see Figs. 60, 6 1). He also 
published a work entitled Yenri San-yo (1878), the result of 
his studies of the higher yenri problems. His manuscript called 
the Reikan Sampo was published in 1910 through the efforts 
of a number of Japanese scholars. / Hagiwara was born in 
1828, and was a farmer in narrow circumstances in the 
province of Joshu. Not until about 1854 did he take an 
interest in mathematics, but when he recognized his taste for the 
subject he became a pupil of Saito's, traveling on foot ten 
miles on the eve of a holiday so as to have a full day with 
his teacher. His manuscripts were horded in a miserly fashion 

1 General Treatment of Quadrature and Cubature. 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 



5* it 4 si >DM >u 

W -t- 

^ ^F 

^ ^ ^t ^ 

-*F ^" 

J ^ n ii 

-f- ^ 
^ ^r 


















Fig- 59- From Hasegawa Ko's Kyuseki Tsuko (1844). 


XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

until his death, November 28, 1909, when the last great mathe- 
matician of the old school passed away. 

Mention should be made at this time of the leading mathe- 
maticians who were the contemporaries of Hagiwara, and who 
were living when the Shogunate gave place to the Empire in 
1868. Of these, Hodoji Wajuro was born in 1820 and died 
in 1 87 1. 1 He was the son of a smith in Hiroshima, and although 
he led a kind of vagabond existence he had a good deal of 
mathematical ability. It is said that he was the real author 
of Kaetsu's Yenri Katsuno. Several other books are known 
to have been written by him, but they were not published 
under his own name. 

Iwata Kosan (1812 1878), born a samurai, devoted his 
attention particularly to the ellipse. The following is his best 

known problem: 

Given an ellipse E tangent to 

two straight lines and to four 
circles, A, B, C, D, as shown in 
the figure. Given the diameters 
of A, B and C, required to find 
the diameter of D. His solution, 
given in 1866, is essentially the pro- 
portion a\b = c:d, where a, b, c, 
d are the respective diameters of 
A, B, C and D. The problem 
was afterwards extended to any 
four conies instead of four circles, 
by H. Terao and others. 

Kuwamoto Masaaki wrote the 
Senyen Kattsu in 1855, and in it 
he treated of roulettes of various 

kinds (see Fig. 62), of elliptic wedges (see Fig. 63), and other 

forms at that time attracting attention. 

Takaku Kenjiro (1821 1883) wrote the Kyokusu 'I aisei-jutsu 

in which he made some contribution to the theory of maxima 

and minima. 

1 C. KAWAKITA, in the Honcho Sugaku Koenshu, p. 23. 


XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 


Fig. 60. From Hagiwara's Sampo Yenri Shiran (1866). 

Fukuda Riken (1815 1889) lived first in Osaka and finally 
in Tokyo. He was a teacher of some prominence, and his 
Sampo Tamatebako appeared in 1879. 



Fig. 6l. From Hagiwara's Sampo Yenri Shiran (1866). 


XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 

Yanagi Yuyetsu (1832 1891) was a naval officer who gave 
some attention to the native Japanese mathematics. 

Fig. 62. From Kuwamoto Masaaki's Sen yen Kattsfi (1855). 

Suzuki Yen, who may still be living wrote a work (1878) upon 
circles inscribed in or circumscribed about figures of various 

Fig. 63. From Kuwamoto Masaaki's Sen yen Kattsil (1855). 

XIII. The Close of the Old Wasan. 253 

Thus closes the old wasan, the native mathematics of Japan. 
It seems as if a subconscious feeling of the hopelessness of 
the contest with Western science must have influenced the 
last half century preceding the opening of Japan. There was 
really no worthy successor of Wada Nei in all this period, 
and the feeling that was permeating the political life of Japan, 
that the day of isolation was passing, seems also to have 
permeated scientific circles. With the scholars of the country 
obsessed with this feeling of hopelessness as to the native 
mathematics, the time was ripe for the influx of Western 
science, and to this influence from abroad we shall now devote 
our closing chapter. 

The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

We have already spoken at some length in Chapter IX of 
the possible connection, slight at the most, between the mathe- 
matics of Japan and Europe in the seventeenth century. The 
possibility of such a connection increased as time went on, 
and in the nineteenth century the mathematics of the West 
finally usurped the place of the wasan. During this period 
of about two centuries, from 1650 to the opening of Japan to 
the world, knowledge of the European mathematics was slowly 
finding its way across the barriers, not alone through the 
agency of the Dutch traders at Nagasaki, but also by means 
of the later Chinese works which were written under the in- 
fluence of the Jesuit missionaries. These missionaries were 
men of great learning, and they began their career by im- 
pressing this learning upon the Chinese people of high rank. 
Matteo Ricci (1552 1610), for example, with the help of one 
Hsu Kiiang-chty (1562 1634), translated Euclid into the 
Chinese language in 1607, and he and his colleagues made 
known the Western astronomy to the savants of Peking. It 
must be admitted, however, that only small bits of this learning 
could have found a way into Japan. Euclid, for example, seems 
to have been unknown there until about the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, and not to have been well known for two 
and a half centuries after it appeared in Peking. 

Some mention should, however, be made of the work done 
for a brief period by the Jesuits in Japan itself, a possible in- 
fluence on mathematics that has not received its due share of 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 255 

attention. 1 It is well known that the wreck of a Portuguese 
vessel upon the shores of Japan in 1542 led soon after to the 
efforts of traders and Jesuit missionaries to effect an entry into 
the country. In 1549 Xavier, Torres, and Fernandez landed at 
Kagoshima in Satsuma. Since in 1582 the Japanese Christians 
sent an embassy carrying gifts to Rome, and since it was 
claimed about that time that twelve thousand 2 converts to 
Christianity had been received into the Church, the influence 
of these missionaries, and particularly that of the "Apostle of 
the Indies," St. Francis Xavier, must have been great. In 1587 
the missionaries were ordered to be banished from Japan, and 
during the next forty years a process of extermination of 
Christianity was pursued throughout the country. 

In none of this work, not even in the schools that the 
Jesuits are known to have established in Japan, have we a 
definite trace of any instruction in mathematics. Nevertheless 
the influence of the most learned order of priests that Europe 
then produced, a priesthood that included in its membership 
men of marked ability in astronomy and pure mathematics, 
must have been felt. If it merely suggested the nature of the 
mathematical researches of the West this would have been 
sufficient to account for some of the renewed activity of the 
seventeenth century in the scientific circles of Japan. That 
the influence of the missionaries on mathematics was manifested 
in any other way than this there is not the slightest evidence. 

It should also be mentioned that an Englishman named 
William Adams lived in Yedo for some time early in the 
seventeenth century and was at the court of lyeyasu. Since 
he gave instruction in the art of shipbuilding and received 
honors at court, his opportunity for influencing some of the 
practical mathematics of the country must be acknowledged. 
There is also extant in a manuscript, the Kikujutsu Denrai no 
Maki, a story that one Higuchi Gonyemon of Nagasaki, a 

1 There is only the merest mention of it in P. HARZER'S Die exakten 
Wissenschaften im alien Japan, Kiel, 1905. 

2 Some even claimed 200,000, at least a little later. E. BOHUM, Geo- 
graphical Dictionary, London, 1688. 

256 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

scholar of merit in the field of astronomy and astrology, learned 
the art of surveying from a Dutchman named Caspar, and 
not only transmitted this knowledge to his people but also 
constructed instruments after the style of those used in Europe. 
Of his life we know nothing further, but a note is added to 
the effect that he died during the reign of the third Shogun 
(1623 1650). A further note in the same manuscript relates 
that from 1792 to 1796 a certain Dutchman, one Peter Walius(?) 
gave instruction in the art of surveying, but of him we know 
nothing further. 

In the eighteenth century the possibility that showed itself 
in the seventeenth century became an actuality. European 
sciences now began to penetrate into Japanese schools, either 
directly or through China. In the year 1713, for example, the 
elaborate Chinese treatises, the Li-hsiang K'ao-ch'eng and the 
Su-li Ching-Yun, which had been compiled by Imperial edict, 
were published in Peking. Of these the former was an 
astronomy and the latter a work on pure mathematics, and 
each showed a good deal of Jesuit influence. These books 
were early taken to Japan, and thus some of the trend of 
European science came to be known to the scholars of that 
country. There was also sent across the China Sea the Li- 
suan Ctiiian-shii in which Mei Wen-ting's works were collected, 
so that Japanese mathematicians not only came into some 
contact with Europe, but also came to see the progress of 
their science among their powerful neighbors of Asia. Takebe, 
for example, is said to have studied Mei's works and to have 
written some monographs upon them in I726. 1 

Nakane Genkei (1662 1733) also wrote, about the same 
time, a trigonometry and an astronomy (see Fig. 64) based on 
the European treatment, 2 the result certainly of a study of 
Mei Wen-ting's works and possibly of the Su-li Cliing-Yun. 

1 ENDO, Book II, p. 69. There is a copy in the Imperial Library. 

2 The Hassen-hyo Kaigi (Notes on the Eight Trigonometric Lines), and 
the Tenmon Zul^wai Hakki (1696). He also wrote the Kowa Tsureki and the 
Kb reki Sampo (1714). 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 257 


Fig. 64. From Nakane Genkei's astronomy of 1696. 

His pupil Koda Shin-yei, who died in 1758, also wrote upon 
the same subject. The illustrations given from the works on 
surveying by Ogino Nobutomo in his Kiku Genpo Choken of 
1718 (Fig. 65), and Murai Masahiro in his Riochi Shinan of 


258 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

Fig. 65. From Ogino Xobutomo's Kiku Genpo Choken (1718). 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 


about the same time (Fig. 66) show distinctly the European 

Later writers carried the subject of trigonometry still further. 
For example, in Lord Arima's Shnki Sampd of 1769 there 
appear some problems in spherical trigonometry, and in Sakabe's 
Sanipo Tenzan Shinan-roku of 1810 1815 the work is even 
more advanced. Manuscripts of Ajima and Takahashi upon 
the same subject are also extant. Yegawa Keishi's treatise 

Fig. 66. From Murai Masahiro's Riochi Shinan. 

on spherical trigonometry appeared in 1842. Some of the 
illustrations of the manuscripts on surveying are of interest, as 
is seen in the reproductions from Igarashi Atsuyoshi's Shinki 
Sokurio ho of about 1775 (Fig. 67) and from a later ano- 
nymous work (Fig. 68). 

The European arithmetic began to find its way into Japan 
in the eighteenth century, but it never replaced the soroban 
by the paper and pencil, and there is no particular reason 
why it should do so. Probably the West is more likely to 



XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

return to some form of mechanical calculation, as evidenced 
in the recent remarkable advance in calculating machinery, 
than is the Eastern and Russian and much cf the Arabian 
mercantile life to give up entirely the abacus. Napier's rods, 
however, appealed to the Japanese and Chinese computers, 
and books upon their use were written in Japan. Arithmetics 
on the foreign plan were, however, published, Arizawa Chitei's 
Chusan Shiki of 1725 being an example. In this work Arizawa 
speaks of the "Red-bearded men's arithmetic," the Japanese of 

Fig. 67. From Igarashi Atsuyoshrs Shinki Sokurio ho, 

the period sometimes calling Europeans by this name, the 
title Barbarossa of the medieval West. Senno's works of 1767 
and 1768 were upon the same subject, not to speak of several 
others, including Hanai Kenkichi's Seisan Sokuclii as late as 
the Ansei (1854 1860) period. (See Fig. 69.) It is a matter 
of tradition that Mayeno Ryotaku (1723 1803) received an 
arithmetic in 1773 from some Dutch trader, but nothing is 
known of the work. Mayeno was a physician, and in 1769, 
at the age of forty- six, he began those linguistic studies that 
made him well known in his country. He translated several 
Dutch works, including a few on astronomy, but we have no 

XIV*. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 261 

fr JSL % -f 




ft "ft Jg 

Fig. 68. From an anonymous manuscript on surveying. 


XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

evidence of his having studied European mathematics. Never- 
theless one cannot be in touch with the scientific literature of 
a language without coming in contact with the general trend 

Fig. 69. From Hanai Kenkichr's Seisan Sokuchi, showing 
the Napier rods. 

of thought in various lines, and it is hardly possible that 
Mayeno failed to communicate to mathematicians the nature 
of the work of their unknown confreres abroad. 

XIV 7 . The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 263 

Contemporary with Mayeno was scholar by the name of 
Shizuki Tadao (1760 1806),' an interpreter for the merchants 
at Nagasaki. At the close of the eighteenth century, he began 
a work entitled Rekisho Shins/id, 2 consisting of three parts, 
each containing two books, the composition of which was 
completed in 1803. The treatise, which was never printed, 
is based upon the works of John Keill.^ The first part treated 
of the Copernican system of astronomy and the second and 
third parts of mechanical theories. The latter part of the 
work may have had its inspiration in Newton's Principia. It 
was the first Japanese work to treat of mechanics and physics, 
and it is noteworthy also from the fact that the appendix to 
the third part contains a nebular hypothesis that is claimed 
to have been independent of that of Kant and Laplace. Since 
by the statement of Shizuki his theory dated in his own mind 
from about I/93, 4 while Kant (1724 1804) had suggested it 
as early as 1755, although Laplace (17491827) did not 
publish his own speculations upon it until 1796,5 he may 
have received some intimation of Kant's theory. Nevertheless 
Laplace is known to have stated his theory independently, so 
that Shizuki may reasonably be thought to have done the 

It should also he stated that in Aida Ammei's manuscript 
entitled Sampo Densho Mokuroku (A list of Mathematical 
Compositions) mention is made of an Oranda Sampo (Dutch 
arithmetic). This must have been about 1790. 

Contemporary with Shizuki was the astronomer Takahashi 
Shiji, who died in 1804, aged forty. He was familiar with the 

1 He is represented in ENDO'S History, Book III, p. 36, as Nakano Ryuho, 
RyQho being his nom de plume, and the date of his book is given as 1797. 

2 New Treatise on subjects relating to the theory of Calendars. 

3 John Keill (1671 1721), professor of astronomy at Oxford. It is said 
by Dr. Korteweg to have been based upon a Dutch translation of these works ; 
but we fail to find any save the Latin editions. 

4 K. KANO, On the Nebular Theory of Shizuki Tadao (in Japanese), in the 
Toyo Gakugei Zasshi, Book XII, 1895, pp. 294 300. 

5 Exposition du Systeme du Monde, Paris 1796. 

264 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

Dutch works upon his subject, and his writings contain ex- 
tracts from some one by the name of John Lilius J and from 
various other European scholars. 

The celebrated geographer Ino Chukei (1745 1821), whose 
great survey of Japan has already been mentioned, was a 
pupil of Takahashi's, who translated La Lande, and thus came 
to know of the European theory of his subject, which he carried 
out in his field work. It might also be said that the shape of 
the native Japanese instruments used by surveyors early in the 
nineteenth century (see Fig. 70) were not unlike those in use in 
Europe. They were beautifully made and were as accurate as 
could be expected of any instrument not bearing a telescope. 
It should be added that Ino was not the first to use European 
methods in his surveys, for Nagakubo Sekisui of Mito learned 
the art of map drawing from a Dutchman in Nagasaki, and 
published a map on this plan in 1789. 

Takahashi Shiji's son, Takahashi Kageyasu, 2 was also a 
Shogunate astronomer and as already related he died in prison 
for having exchanged maps with a German scientist in the 
Dutch service. This scientist was Philip Franz von Siebold 
(1796 1866), the first European scientist to explore the country. 
He was born at Wiirzburg, Germany, and attended the uni- 
versity there. In 1822 he entered the service of the King of 
the Netherlands as medical officer in the East Indian army, 
and was sent to Deshima, the Dutch settlement at Nagasaki. 
His medical skill enabled him to come in contact with Japanese 
people of all ranks, and in this way he had comparatively 
free access to the interior of the country. Well trained as a 
scientist and well supplied with scientific instruments and with 
a considerable number of native collectors, he secured a large 
amount of scientific information concerning a people whose 

1 This is recorded in the list of his writings prepared by Shibukawa 
Keiyu, Takahashi's second son. The name there appears in Japanese letters 
as Ririusu, with the usual transliteration of r for /. Very likely it was some- 
thing from the writings of the well-known astrologer William Lilly. 

2 Also called Takahashi Keiho, Kageyasu being merely another reading 
of Keiho. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 265 

customs and country up to this time had been practically 
unknown to the European world. As a result he published 
in 1824 his De Historia Fauna Japonica, and in 1826 his 
Epitome Lingua Japonicce. He later published his Catalogus 
Librorum Japonic orum, Isagoge in Bibliothecam Japonicam, and 

Fig. 7- Native Japanese surveying instrument. Early nineteenth century. 

Bibliotheca Japonica, besides other works on Japan and its 
people. It is thus apparent that by the close of the first 
quarter of the nineteenth century Japan was fairly well known 
to the outer world, and that foreign science was influencing 
the work of Japanese scholars. 

266 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

Indeed as early as 1811 this interrelation of knowledge had 
so far advanced that a Board of Translation was established 
in the Astronomical Observatory in Yedo, being afterward (1857) 
changed into an Institute for the Investigation of European 
Books. Both of these titles were auspicious, but they proved 
disappointing misnomers. Not until 1837 was any noteworthy 
result of the labors of the Institute apparent, and then only 
in the preparation of the Seireki Shimpen by Yamaji Kaiko 1 
and a few others, and in a translation of La Lande. 2 

Foreign influence shows itself indirectly in a manuscript 
written in 1812 by Sakabe Kohan. This is upon the theory 
of navigation and is based upon the spherical astronomy of 
the West. Another work along the same lines, the Kairo 
Anshin-roku, was published in 1816 by Sakabe. 

In 1823 Yoshio Shunzo published his Yensei Kansho Zusetsu, 
in three books. This work is confessedly based upon the 
Dutch works of Martin 3 and Martinet," 1 as is stated in the 
introductory note by Kusano Yojun.s 

1 Grandson of Yamaji Shuju, also a Shogunate astronomer. The work 
was never printed. 

2 It is sometimes said that this was based on Beima's works. But Elte 
Martens Beima (1801 1873) wrote works on the rings of Saturn that appeared 
in 1842 and 1843, and there is no other Dutch writer of note on astronomy 
by this name. 

3 Probably Martinus Martens, Inwijings Redenvoering over eenige Vborname 
Nuttigheden der IVisen Sterrekunde, Amsterdam, 1743, since Yoshio speaks of 
it as published sixty years earlier. 

4 Johannes Florentius Martinet (1729 1792). His Katechisuius der Natuur 
(1777 ! 779) i s recorded by D. BIERENS DE HAAN (Bibliographie Neerlandaise, 
Rome, 1883, p. 183) as having been translated into Japanese by Sammon 
Samme, but with no information as to publication. Professor T. HAYASHI, 
who has given scholarly attention to this subject, is able to find no trace 
of this translation. See his articles, A list of Dutch Astronomical Works 

-imported from Holland to Japan, How have the Japanese used the Dutfh Books 
imported from Holland, and Some Dutch Books on Mathematical and Physical 
Sciences, etc., in the Nieuw Archie/ voor Wiskunde, tweede reeks, zevede deel, 
and negende deel. Possibly the translation was merely Yoshio's work above 
mentioned, since its secondary title is Catechism of Science. 

5 The work was published by him as having been orally dictated by 
Yoshio Shunzo. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 


In the Tempo Period (18301844) Koide Shuki translated 
some portions of Lalande's work on astronomy, and showed 
to the Astronomical Board the superiority of the European 
calendar, but without noticeable effect. 1 

In 1843 Iwata Seiyo published his Kubo Shinkei Shind (a 
work relating to the telescope) in which he made use of 
European methods in astronomy. 2 

Fig. 71. Native Japanese surveying instrument. 
Early nineteenth century. 

In 1851 Watanabe Ishin published a work on Illustrating the 
Use of the Octant, in which he even adopted the Latin term 
as appears by the title, Okittanto Yd ho Ryakn-zusetsu. He 
was followed by Murata Tsunemitsu in 1853 on the use of the 
sextant. An octant had been brought from Europe in 1780, 

* FUKUDA, Sampo Tamatebako, 1879. 
2 ENDO, Book III, p. 131. 

268 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

but had been kept in the storehouse of the observatory because 
no one on the Shogunate Astronomical Board knew how to 
use it. Finally Yamaji Kaiko and a few others worked with 
it until they understood it, and Watanabe, who was an expert 
in gunnery, wrote the work above mentioned. He, however, 
was not aware of its use in astronomy, only showing how it 
might be employed in measuring distances in surveying. 1 The 
sextant was imported somewhat later than the octant, but its 
use was not understood until Murata Tsunemitsu published 
his work, and even then it. was employed only in terrestrial 
mensuration. 2 

The Japanese first learned of logarithms through the Chinese 
work, the Su-li Ching-yiin, printed at Peking in 1713. This 
was not the only Chinese publication of the subject, however, 
for it is a curious fact that no complete edition of Vlacq's 
tables ^ appeared in Europe after his death, and that the next 
publication 4 thereafter was in Peking in 1721,5 a monument to 
Jesuit learning. The effect of these Chinese works was not 
marked, however. Ajima, who died in 1798, was one of the 
first Japanese mathematicians to employ logarithms in practical 
calculation, and his manuscript upon the subject was used by 
Kusaka in writing the Fukyu Sampo (1798), but the tables 
were not printed. A page from an anonymous table in an 
undated manuscript entitled Tai shin Rio su kw t giving the 
logarithms to seven decimal places is shown in the illustration 
(Fig. 72). The first printed work to suggest the actual use 
of the tables was Book XII of Sakabe's Sampo Tenzan Shinan- 
roku (Treatise on Tenzan Algebra), published in 1810 1815. 
Speaking of them he says: "Although these tables save much 
labor, they are but little known for the reason that they have 

* ENDO, Book III, p. 141. 

2 ENDO, ibid., p. 143. 

3 His Logarithmica Arithmetica appeared at Gouda in 1628. 

4 They had been reprinted in part in GEORGE MILLER'S Logarithmicall 
Arilhmetike, London, 1631. 

5 Magnus Canon Logarithmorum . . . Typis sinensibus in Aula Pekinensi jussu 
Imperatoris, 1721. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 


never been printed in our country. If anyone who cares to 
copy them will apply to me I shall be glad to lend them to 
him and to give him detailed information as to their use." 
He gave the logarithms of the numbers I 130 to seven 
decimal places, by way of illustration. He may possibly have 




. ;\ 




)v v 

E.O o 


; o 






- a f>j 











Fig. 72. From an anonymous logarithmic table in manuscript. 

2/O XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

had some Dutch work on the subject, since he knew the word 
"logarithm," or possibly he had the Peking tables of 1713 
and 1721. 

Sakabe further says: "The ratios involved in spherical triangles, 
as given in the Li-suan Ctiuan-shu, are so numerous that it 
is tedious to handle them. Since addition and subtraction are 
easier than multiplication and division, Europeans require their 
calculations involving the eight trigonometric lines J to be made 
by means of adding and subtracting logarithms. They do not 
know, however, how to obtain the angles when the three sides 
are given, or how to get the sides from the three angles, 2 by 
the use of logarithms alone." 

The first extensive logarithmic table was printed by Koide 
Shuki (1797 1865) in 1844. Another one was published by 
Yegawa Keishi in 1857, in which the logarithms were given 
up to 10,000,3 and in the same year an extensive table of 
natural trigonometric functions was published by Okumura and 
Mori Masakado, in their Katsu-yen Hio. 

Although the tables were used more or less in the first half 
of the nineteenth century, the theory of logarithms remained 
unknown for a long time after it was understood in China. 
Ajima, Aida, Ishiguro, and Uchida Gokan seem to have been 
the first to pay any attention to the nature of these numbers, 
but few explanations were put in print until Takemura Ko- 
kaku published his work in 1854. Since Uchida used only 
logarithms to the base 10, his theory as to developing them 
is very complicated. 4 

It is quite probable that some suggestion leading to the study 
of center of gravity found its way in from the West. Seki 
seems the first to have had the idea in Japan, and it appears in 
his investigation of the volume of the solids generated by the 
revolution of circular arcs. Arima touches upon the subject 

1 I. e., the six common functions together with the versed sine and the 
coversed sine. 

2 Of a spherical triangle. 

3 ENDO, Book III, p. 135. 
* ENDS, Book III, p. 143. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 2/1 

in the Shuki Sampo of 1769, and Takahashi Shiji also mentions 
it. But it was not until after the publication of Hashimoto's 
work in 1830, and after there was abundant opportunity for 
European influence to show itself, that the problem became 
at all popular. From that time on it was the object of a 
great deal of attention, the solids becoming at times quite 
complicated. For example, the center of gravity was studied 
for such a solid as a segment of an ellipsoid pierced by a 
cylindrical hole, and for a group of several circular cones, 
each piercing the others. 

Similarly we may be rather sure that the study of various 
roulettes, including the cycloid and epicycloid, came from some 
hint that these problems had occupied the attention of mathe- 
maticians in the West. This does not detract from the skill 
shown by Wada Nei, for example, but it merely asserts that 
the objects, not the methods of study, were European in source. 
For the method, the ingenuity, and the patience, all credit is 
due to the Japanese scholars. 

The same remark may be made with respect to the catenary 
and various other curves and surfaces. The catenary first 
appears in Hagiwara's work above mentioned, and the problem 
was subsequently solved by Omura Isshii and Kagami Mitsuteru, 
being attacked by approximating, step by step, the root of a 
transcendental equation, a treatment very complicated but full 
of interest. The treatment is purely Japanese, even though 
the idea of the problem itself may have found its way in 
through Dutch avenues. 

In the nineteenth century there were a number of scholars 
in Japan who possessed more or less reading knowledge of 
the Dutch language. One of these was Uchida Gokan whose 
name has just been mentioned in connection with logarithms. 
He even called his school by the name "Maternateka." 1 Of 
him Tani Shomo wrote, in the preface of a work published 
in i84O, 2 these appreciative words: "Uchida is a profoundly 

1 ENDO, Book III, p. 102. 

2 KEMMOCHI'S Tan-i Sampj. 

2/2 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

learned man, and his knowledge is exceeding broad. He is 
master even of the 'mathematica' of the Western World." To 
this knowledge his sole surviving pupil, C. Kawakita, has borne 
witness in personal conversation with one of the authors of 
this history, and N. Okamoto still has some of the European 
books formerly owned by Uchida. Mr. Kawakita assures us, 
however, that Uchida's higher mathematics was his own 
and was not derived from Dutch sources, meaning that the 
method of treatment was, as we have already asserted, purely 

In a manuscript 1 written in 1824 Ichino Mokyo tells of an 
ellipsograph that Aida Ammei designed from a drawing in 
some Dutch work. "In reading some Occidental works recently," 
he says, "we have seen recorded a method of drawing an 
ellipse that is at the same time very simple and very satis- 
factory," and he speaks of the fact that the rectification of 
the ellipse by Japanese scholars is entirely original with them. 
Indeed it would seem that the scholars of the early nineteenth 
century were quite doubtful as to the superiority of the European 
mathematics over their own, which is a rather unexpected 
testimony to the independence of the Japanese in this science. 
Thus Oyamada Yosei uses these words upon the subject: 2 
"Mogami Tokunai says in his Sokuryo Sansaku that the mathe- 
matical science of our country is unsurpassed by that of either 
China or Europe." In the same spirit an anonymous writer 
of the early part of the nineteenth century writes 3 these words: 
"There is an Occidental work wherein the value of the circum- 
ference of a circle is given to fifty figures, and of this I 
possess a translation which I obtained from Shibukawa. It 
is said that this is fully described by Montucla in his History 
of the Quadrature of the Circle, published in I/54, 4 but I under- 

1 The Dayen-shii Tsujulsu (General Method of Rectifying the Ellipse). 

2 In the Malsunoya Hikki, an article on Mathematics and the Soroban, 
written early in the nineteenth century. 

3 Unpublished manuscript. 

4 JEAN ETIENNE MONTUCLA, Histoirc des recherches sur la quadrature du 
cercle, Paris, 1754. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 273 

stand that this work has not been brought to Japan. I, however, 
have also calculated of late, with the help of Kubodera, the 
value to sixty figures, and not in a single figure does it differ 
from the European result. This goes to show how exact 
should be all mathematical work, and how, when this accuracy 
is attained, the results are the same even though the calcul- 
ations be made by men who are thousands of miles apart." 
The same writer also says: 1 "Although the Europeans highly 
excel in all matters relating to astronomy and the calendar, 
nevertheless their mathematical theories are inferior to those 
that we have so accurately developed. I one time read the 
Su-li Ching-yun, compiled by Imperial edict, and in it I found 
a method of solving a right triangle for integral sides, . . . but 
the process was much too cumbersome and it was lacking in 
directness. . . . Moreover I have found certain problems that 
were incorrectly solved, although I shall not mention them 
specifically at this time. From this we may conclude that 
foreign mathematics is not on so high a plane as the mathe- 
matics of our own country." 

Even such a writer as Koide Shuki had a similarly low 
estimate of the mathematics of the West, for he expressed 
himself in these words: 8 "Number dwells in the heavens and 
in the earth, but the arts are of human make, some being 
accurate and others not. The minuteness of our mathematical 
work far surpasses that to be found in the West, because our 
power is a divine inheritance, fostered by the noble and daring 
spirit of a nation that is exalted over the other nations of 
the world." 

In similar spirit, the lordly spirit of the old samurai, Takaku 
Kenjiro (1821 1883) writes in his General View of Japanese 
Mathematics: ^ "Astronomy and the physical sciences as found 
in the West are truth eternal and unchangeable, and this we 
must learn; but as to mathematics, there Japan is leader of 
the world." 

1 In his Sanwa Zuihitsii. 

2 In his preface to KEMMOCHI'S Tan-i Sampo, 1840. 

3 For this we are indebted to the writings of C. KAWAKITA. 


2/4 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

Hagiwara Teisuke (1828 1909), one of the last of the 
native school, also bemoaned the sacrifice of the wasan that 
followed on the inroads of Western science. Of his own 
published problems he was wont to say that no European 
mathematician could ever have solved them because of their 
very complicated nature. 

Such testimony may be looked upon by some as a display 
of pitiful ignorance, as in certain respects it was. But on the 
other hand it bears testimony to the fact that the mathe- 
maticians of the old school were not looking to Europe for 
assistance, feeling rather that Europe should look to them. 

In view of these opinions it is of interest to read the words 
of a serious observer of things Japanese in the seventeenth 
century. Engelbert Kaempfer living in Japan during the rule 
of the fifth of the Tokugawa Shoguns (1680 1709) remarked 
"They know nothing of mathematics, especially of their pro- 
found and speculative parts. No one interests himself in this 
science as we Europeans do." 1 

The differential and integral calculus, in its definite Western 
form, entered Japan through a Chinese version of the American 
work by Loomis. 2 This version, entitled Tai-wei-chi Shih-cJd, 
was translated by Li Shan-Ian in 1859, with the help of Alexander 
Wylie, an English missionary. About the same time several 
other treatises were translated into Chinese, but how many of 
these found their way into Japan we do not know. 

As to arithmetic some mention has already been made of 
the European influence. Yamamoto Hokuzan says, in his 
preface to Ohara Rimei's Tenzan-Shinan of 1810, that the 
tenzan algebra of the Seki school was merely founded on the 
European method of computing. For this statement there 

1 KAEMPFER'S work was translated from the German by SCHEUCHZER, and 
published in London in 1727 1728. This extract comes through a German 
retranslation from the English, by P. HARZER, loc. cit., p. 17. 

2 Elias Loomis (1811 1899). Since the work is on both algebra and the 
calculus it was probably compiled from the Elements of Algebra, New York, 
1846. and the Elements of Analytical Geometry and of the Differential and 
Integral Calculus, New York, 1850. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 


seems to be no basis, but it shows that even in the nineteenth 
century the Western methods of computation were not at all 
well known. 

About the middle of the century the European methods 
began to find definite place in Japanese works, if not in the 













-> ^ 













Fig. 73. From Hanai Kenkichi's 

Sokuchi (1856). 

schools. The first of these works was Hanai Kenkichi's 
Seisan Sokuchi (Short Course in Western Arithmetic), published 
in 1856 (Fig. 73), and Yanagawa Shunzo's Yosan Yoho (Methods 


2/6 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

of Western Arithmetic) that appeared in the same year. The 
influence of these and similar books of later date has been 
on pedagogical and commercial rather than on mathematical 
lines. The soroban is as popular as ever, and save for those 
who proceed to higher mathematics it seems destined to re- 
main so. 

It was about the year 1851 that the Shogunate ordered 
certain persons to be instructed by Dutch masters at Naga- 
saki in the art of navigation. As a basis for this instruction 
Dutch arithmetic was taught and this seems to have been the 
first systematic instruction in the subject in Japan. In 1855 
an institute was founded in Yedo for the same purpose, Dutch 
teachers being employed. One of the pupils in this school 
was Ono Tomogoro, and from him we know of the work there 
given. 1 The course extended over four or five years, and 
Li's version of the work of Loomis was used as a text- 
book. 2 

The influence of such a work as that of Loomis was very 
slight, however. Scholars who knew European mathematics 
were few, and the subject was generally looked upon as of 
inferior merit. It was not until a generation later that the 
Western calculus attracted much attention. Some of the 
efforts at combining Eastern and Western mathematics at about 
this period are interesting, as witness an undated manuscript 
by one Wake Yukimasa, of which a page is here shown 

(Fig. 74). 

There exists in the library of one of the authors a manuscript 
translation from the Dutch of Jacob Floryn (1751 1818), 
entitled Shinyakuho Sankaku Jutsu (Newly translated art of 
trigonometry). It was made in the Ansei period (1854 1860) 
by Takahashtri Yoshiyasu, probably a member of the family 
of well-known mathematicians. It is possibly from Floryn's 

1 The Use of Japanese Mathematics (in Japanese) in the Sugaku Hochi, 
no. 88. 

2 Mr. K. UYENO informs us that the Loomis book was brought to Japan 
before Li's translation was made, but that there was no one who knew both 
English and mathematics well enough to read it. 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 277 

Grondbeginzels der Hoogere Meetkunde which was published 
in Rotterdam in 1794. This translation seems not to be known. 
Of the conic sections some intimation of the subject may 
have reached Japan in the seventeenth century, but it evi- 
dently was taken, if at all, only as a hint. The Japanese 
studied the ellipse very zealously, always by their own peculiar 

JiL = Q 

: -f- == -i- / 

Fig. 74. From a manuscript by Wake Yukismasa. 

method, but the parabola and hyperbola seem never to have 
attracted the attention of the old school. To be sure, the 
parabola enters into a problem about the path of a projectile 
in Yamada's Kaisanki of 1656, but it seems never to have 
been noticed by subsequent writers. The graphs of these 
curves are found in certain astronomical works, as in Yoshio's 
Yensei Kansho Zusetsu of 1823 where they are used in illustrat- 

2/8 XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

ing the orbits of comets, but they do not enter into the works 
on pure mathematics. This very fact is evidence against any 
influence from without affecting the native theories. 

We have already spoken of the change of the Board of 
Translation to the Institute for the Investigation of European 
Books. Six years after this change was made the Kaiseijo 
School was founded (1863), in which every art and science 
was to be taught. A department of mathematics was included, 
and in this Kanda Kohei was made professor. He it was who 
made the first decisive step towards the teaching of European 
mathematics in Japan, and from his time on the subject re- 
ceived earnest attention in spite of the small number of students 
in the department. 

The year 1868 is well known in the West and in Japan 
as a year of great import to the world. This was the year 
of the political revolution that overthrew the Tokugawa Sho- 
gunate, that put an end to the feudal order, and that restored 
the Imperial administration. Yedo, the Shogun's capital, became 
Tokyo, the seat of the Empire. The year is known to the 
West because it marked the coming of a new World Power. 
What this has meant the past forty years have shown; what 
it is to mean as the centuries go on, no one has the slightest 
conception. To Japan the year marks the entrance of Western 
ideas, many of which are good, and many of which have been 
harmful. The art of Japan has suffered, in painting, in sculp- 
ture, and especially in architecture. The exquisite taste of a 
century ago, in textiles for example, has given place to a catering 
to the bad taste of moneyed tourists. And all of this has its 
parallel in the domain of mathematics, in which domain we 
may now take a retrospective view. 

What of the native mathematics of Japan, and what of the 
effect of the new mathematics? What did Japan originate and 
what did she borrow? What was the status of the subject 
before the year 1868, and what is its status at the present 
and its promise for the future? 

Looked at from the standpoint of the West, and weighing 
the evidence as carefully and as impartially as human imper- 

XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 279 

factions will allow, this seems to be a fair estimate of the 
ancient wasan: 

The Japanese, beginning in the seventeenth century, produc- 
ed a succession of worthy mathematicians. Since these men 
studied the general lines that interested European scholars of 
a generation earlier, and since there was some opportunity 
for knowing of these lines of Western interest, it seems reason- 
able to suppose that they had some hint of what was occu- 
pying the attention of investigators abroad. Since their me- 
thods of treatment of every subject were peculiar to Japan, 
either her scholars did not value or, what is quite certain, 
did not know the detailed methods of the West. Since they 
decried the European learning in mathematics, it is probable 
that they made no effort to know in detail what was being 
done by the scholars of Holland and France, of England and 
Germany, of Italy and Switzerland. 

With such intimation as they may have had respecting the 
lines of research in the West, Japan developed a system of 
her own for the use of infinite series in the work of mensur- 
ation. She later developed an integral calculus that was 
sufficient for the purposes of measuring the circle, sphere, 
and ellipse. In the solution of higher numerical equations she 
improved upon the work of those Chinese scholars who had 
long anticipated Horner's method in England. In the study 
of conies her scholars paid much attention to the ellipse but 
none to the parabola and hyperbola. 

But the mathematics of Japan was like her art, exquisite 
rather than grand. She never develpoed a great theory that 
in any way compares with the calculus as it existed when 
Cauchy, for example, had finished with it. When we think 
of Descartes's La Geometric; of Desargues's Brouillon proiect, 
of the work of Newton and Leibnitz on the calculus; of that 
of Euler on the imaginary, for example; of Lagrange and 
Gauss in relation to the theory of numbers; of Galois in the dis- 
covery of groups, and so on through a long array of names, 
we do not find work of this kind being done in Japan, nor have 
we the slightest reason for thinking that we ought to find it. 

28O XIV. The Introduction of Occidental Mathematics. 

Europe had several thousand years of mathematics back of 
her when Newton and Leibnitz worked on the calculus, 
years in which every nation knew or might know what its 
neighbors were doing; years in which the scholars of one 
country inspired those of another. Japan had had hardly a 
century of real opportunity in mathematics when Seki entered 
the field. From the standard of opportunity Japan did remark- 
able work; from the standpoint of mathematical discovery this 
work was in every way inferior to that of the West. 

When, however, we come to execution it is like picking up 
a box of the real old red lacquer, not the kind made 
for sale in our day. In execution the work was exquisite in 
a way wholly unknown in the West. For patience, for the 
everlasting taking of pains, for ingenuity in untangling minute 
knots and thousands of them, the problem-solving of the Ja- 
panese and the working out of some of the series in the yenri 
have never been equaled. 

And what will be the result of the introduction of the new 
mathematics into Japan? It is altogether too early to foresee, 
just as we cannot foresee the effect of the introduction of 
new art, of new standards of living, of machinery, and of all 
that goes to make the New Japan. If it shall lead to the 
application of the peculiar genius of the old school, the genius 
for taking infinite pains, to large questions in mathematics, 
then the world may see results that will be epoch making. 
If on the other hand it shall lead to a contempt for the past, 
and to a desire to abandon the very thing that makes the 
wasan worthy of study, then we cannot see what the future 
may have in store. It is in the hope that the West may 
appreciate the peculiar genius that shows itself in the works 
of men like Seki, Takebe, Ajima, and Wada, and may be sym- 
pathetic with the application of that genius to the new mathe- 
matics of Japan, that this work is written. 


Abo no Seimei 67. 

Adams 255. 

Ahmes papyrus 51, 104. 

Aida Ammei 172, 177, 188, 193, 

263, 272. 
Ajima Chokuyen 163, 191, 195, 

218, 220, 221, 224, 259, 268. 
Akita Yoshiichi 219. 
Algebra 49, 50, 105. 

See Equations. 
Algebra, name 104. 
Almans 137. 
Ando Kichiji 130. 
An do Yuyeki 63. 
Andrews 69. 
Aoyama Riyei 77, 164. 
Apianus 114. 
Araki Hikoshiro Sonyei 33, 45, 

104, 107, 155, 158. 
Arima Raido 106, 161, 181, 

182, 186, 197, 208, 259, 270. 
Arizawa Chitei 260. 
As,da Goryu 141, 206, 207. 
Astronomy 263. 

Baba Nobutake 166. 
Baba Seito 248. 
Baba Seitoku 172. 
Baisho 52. 

Baker 197. 

Bamboo rods 21, 23, 47. 

Ban Seiyei 197, 198. 

Bernoulli 197. 

Bierens de Haan 266. 

Biernatzki 12. 

Binomial theorem 51, 182, 193. 

Bohlen, von 6. 

Bohum 255. 

Bostow 137. 

Bowring 30. 

Buddhism 7, 15, 17. 

Bushido 1 4. 

Calculus 87, 123, 272. 

See Yenri. 
Cantor 133. 
Carron 135, 138. 
Carus iv, 20. 
Caspar 256. 
Casting out nines 170. 
Catenary 248. 
Cauchy 126. 

Cavalieri 85, 86, 123, 157, 162. 
Celestial element 49, 52, 77, 86, 


Celestial monad 50. 
Center of gravity 217, 242, 270. 
Chang Heng 63. 



Chang T'sang 48. 

Chen 49. 

Ch'en Huo 63. 

Cheng and fu 48. 

Ch'eng Tai-wei 34. 

Chiang Chou Li Wend 49. 

Chiba Saiyin 171. 

Chiba Tanehide 244. 

Ch'in Chiu-shao 48, 49, 50, 63. 

China i, 9, 48, 57. 

Chinese works 9, 33, 35, in, 

115, 129, 132, 146, 168, 213, 

254, 256, 268. 
Chiu-chang 9, n, 48. 
Chiu-szu 9, ii. 
Chou-pei Suan-ching 9. 
Chu Chi-chieh 48, 49, 51, 52, 56. 
Chui-shu 9, 14. 
Circle 60, 63, 76, 77, 109, 131. 

See TT. 

Colebrooke 5. 

Continued fractions 145, 200. 
Counting 4. 
Courant 22. 
Cramer 126. 
Cycloid 248. 

De la Couperie 18. 
Descartes 133. 
Determinants 124. 
Differences, method of 106, 107, 

148, 234. 
Diophantine analysis 196. 

See Indeterminate equations. 
Di san Filipo 6. 
Dowun 52. 

Dutch influence 132, 136, 140, 

206, 217, 254, 256, 260, 263, 
271, 272, 276. 

Ellipse 69, 206. 

Elliptic wedges 250. 

Endo iv, 4, 9, 15, 17, 33, 35, 
60 63, 65, 78, 79, 85, 91 
93, 95, 102, 104106, 123, 
129, 130, 141, 144, 151, 152, 

155. 156, 159, 172, i77, 
179181, 197, 200, 204, 

207, 216225, 227, 243, 
256, 263, 267, 268, 270, 271. 

Epicycloid 248. 

Equations 49, 52, 86, 102, 106, 
113, 129, 138, 168, 172, 182, 

2I2 ; 213, 224, 225, 226, 229, 
235. 271, 272, 279. 

Euclid 25^ 
Euler 193. 

Fan problems 231. 

Fernandez 255. 

Floryn 276. 

Folding process 125. 

Folding tables 221, 248. 

Fractions 105, 145, 176, 198. 

Fujikawa 136. 

Fujioka 241. 

Fujisawa iii, 92. 

Fujita Kagen 184. 

Fujita Sadasuke 92, 183, 184, 

188, 195. 

Fujita Seishin 212. 
Fujiwara Norikaze 46. 



Fukuda Riken 32, 85, 92, 155, 

177, 251, 267. 
Fukuda Sen 199. 
Fukudai problems 124. 
Furukawa Ken 76. 
Furukawa Ujikiyo 157, 207. 

Genko 60. 
Gensho 17. 
Gentetsu 52. 
Geometry 216, 218. 
Gokai Amp on 233, 243. 
Goschkewitsch 18. 
Gow 5. 

Hachiya Kojuro Teisho 153. 
Hagiwara Teisuke 157, 159, 240, 

248, 271, 274. 
Hai-tao Suan-shu 9, n. 
Hanai Kenkichi 260, 275. 
Hartsingius 133, 138. 
Harzer 133, 154, 155, 195, 223, 


Hasegawa Ko 248. 
Hashimoto Shoho 216, 271. 
Hasu Shigeru 177. 
Hatono Soha 136, 138. 
Hatsusaka 64. 
Hayashi in, 18, 23, 26, 33, 65, 

85, 9i, 92, 95, I0 7, H4, 
124, 126, 133, 141, 152, 155, 
159, 193, 200, 266. 

Hayashi Kichizaemon 140. 

Hazama Jufu 206, 207. 

Hazama Jushin 206. 

Hendai problems 115. 

Higher equations 50, 52, 86, 93. 

Higuchi Gonyemon 255. 

Hirauchi Teishin 215, 219. 

Hitomi 192. 

Hodqji Wajuro 250. 

Honda Rimei 143, 172, 188, 


Honda Teiken 183. 
Hori-ike Hisamichi 238. 
Horiye 177. 
Homer's method 51, 56, 115, 


Hoshino Sanenobu 57, 128. 
Hosoi Kotaku 166. 
Hozumi Yoshin 163. 
Hsu Kuang-crfijfijjf" 254. 
Hiibner 18. 

Ichikawa Danjyuro 166. 

Ichimo Mokyo 272. 

Idai Shoto 62. 

Igarashi Atsuyoshi 259. 

Ikeda Shoi 129, 130, 235. 

Iku-ko 172. 

Imaginaries 209. 

Imai Kentei 166, 171. 

Imamura Chisho 62, 63. 

Indeterminate equations 168, 182, 

192, 196, 233, 246. 
Infinitesimal analysis 197. 
Ino Chukei 206, 264. 
Integration 123, 129, 202, 204, 


Iriye Shukei 164, 171. 
Ishigami 136. 
Ishigaya Shoyeki 144. 
Ishiguro Shin-yu 62, 231. 



Isomaru Kittoku 17, 45, 62, 64, 

65, 103, 129, 149, 158. 
It 6 Jinsai 166. 
Iwai Juyen 229, 238. 
Iwasaki Toshihisa 238, 247. 
Iwata Kosan 250. 
Iwata Seiyo 247, 267. 
lyezaki Zenshi 230. 

Jartoux 154. 

Jesuits 57, 132, 154, 168, 254, 

255, 256- 
Jindai monji 3. 

Kaempfer 274. 
Kaetzu 247, 250. 
Kagami Mitsuteru 248, 271. 
Kaiko 266. 
Kakudo Shoku 244. 
Kamiya Hotei 166. 
Kamiya Kokichi Teirei 189. 
Kamizawa Teikan 92 94. 
Kanda Kohei 278. 
Kano 62, 166, 192, 263. 
Kanroku 8. 
Kant 263. 

Karpinski 6, 30, 35. 
Katsujutsu method 123. 
Kawai Kyutoku 213. 
Kawakita 33, 59, 60, 62, 91, 
146, 155, 159, 177, 183, 188, 

191, 196, 219, 221, 241, 272, 


Keill 263. 
Keishi-zan 17. 

Kemmochi Yoschichi Shoko 228, 

238, 241, 271, 273. 
Kieou-fong 20. 
Kigen seiho method 104. 
Kikuchi, Baron iii. 
Kikuchi Choryo 246. 
Kimura Shoju 237. 
Kimura, T., 6. 
Klingsmill 6. 

Knott 4, 1 8, 31, 36, 37, 40. 
Kobayashi 247. 
Kobayashi Koshin 186. 
Kobayashi Tadayoshi 242. 
Kobayashi Yoshinobu 140. 
Kobo Daishi 15. 
Koda Shin-yei 170, 257. 
Koide Shuki 199, 220, 221, 267, 

270, 273. 
Koike Yuken 172. 
Koko 59. 

Korea i, 21, 31, 48. 
Kouo Sheou-kin 21. 
Koyama Naoaki 220. 
Kozaka Sadanao 129. 
Kubodera 273. 
Kuichi Sanjin 92. 
Kuichi school 129. 
Kuo Shou-ching 108. 
Kuru Juson 153. 
Kurushima Kinai 166, 170. 
Kurushima Yoshita 176, 179, 181. 
Kusaka Sei 172, 218, 220, 240, 


Kusano Yojun 266. 
Kuwamoto Masaaki 250. 
Kwaida Yasuaki 238. 
Kyodai problems 115. 


28 5 

Lao-tze 20. 
Laplace 263. 
Legge 12. 

Leibnitz 125, 126, 154. 
Leyden 133. 
Li Shan-Ian 274. 
Li Show 12. 
Li Te-Tsi 49. 
Li Yeh 4850. 
Lieou Yi-K'ing 20. 
Lilius 264. 
Liu-chang 9, 10. 
Liu Hui 48, 63. 
Liu Ju Hsieh 49. 
Liu Ta-Chien 49. 
Lo Shih-lin 48. 
Locke v. 
Logarithms 268. 
Loomis 274, 276. 
Lowell 21. 

Magic circles 71, 79, 120. 
Magic squares 57, 69, 116, 


Magic wheels 73. 
Malfatti problem 196. 
Mamiya Rinzo 172. 
Man-o Tokiharu 163. 
Mathematical schools of Japan 

207, 271. 

Mathematics, first printed 61. 
Martin 266. 
Martinet 266. 
Matsuki Jiroyemon 166. 
Matsunaga 104, 158, 160, 180. 
Matsuoka 180, 231. 
Matteo Ricci 132, 254. 

Maxima and minima 107, 182 

229, 250. 

Mayeno Ryotaku 141, 260. 
Mechanics 263. 
Mei Ku-cheng 155. 
Mei Wen-ting 19, 29, 168, 256. 
Meijin 196. 
Michinori 17. 
Michizane 15. 
Mikami 14, 29, 49, 63, 91, 133, 

138, 144, 147. 
Mtnami Ryoho 247. 
Mitsuyoshi 59. 

Miyagi Seiko 129, 130, 179. 
Miyajima Sonobei Keichi 185. 
Miyake Kenryu 27, 46, 83, 


Mizoguchi 216. 
Mochinaga 129. 

Mogami Tokunai 143, 172, 272. 
Mohammed ibn Musa 104. 
Mohl 20. 

Momokawa Chubei 43. 
Monbu 9. 
Montucla 272. 
Mori Kambei Shigeyoshi 32, 35, 

58, 60, 61, 103. 
Mori Misaburo 35. 
Mori Masakado 270. 
Muir 124, 125. 

Murai Chuzen 15, 34, 172, 174. 
Murai Mashahiro 164, 257. 
Muramatsu 61, 64, 77, 109. 
Murase 128. 

Murata Koryu 172, 216. 
Murata Tsunemitsu 243, 267, 




Murata Tsushin 45. 
Murray 9. 

Nagakubo Sekisui 141. 

Nagano Seiyo 172. 

Naito Masaki 104, 159. 

Nakamura 64. 

Nakane Genkei 130, 146, i66 ; 

Nakane Genjun 164, 166, 169, 

172, 174, 181, 198. 
Nakanishi Seiko 129. 
Nakanishi Seiri 129, 188. 
Nakashima Chozaburo 136. 
Napier's rods 260. 
Nashimoto 166. 
Nebular theory 263. 
Newton 115, 193, 263. 
Nines, check of 170. 
Nishikawa Joken 141. 
Nishimura Yenri 198. 
Nishiwaki Richyu 27, 163. 
Nitobe 14. 
Nozawa Teicho 65, 80, 84, 86. 

Oba Keimei 172. 

Ogino Nobutomo 164, 257. 

Ogyu Sorai 166. 

Ohara Rimei 208, 274. 

Ohashi 129. 

Okamoto 34, 35, 155, 157, 160, 

221, 272. 

Okuda Yuyeki 128. 
Omura Isshu 245, 248, 271. 
Otaka 45, 107, 108, 113, 147. 
Oyama Shokei 152, 156. 
Oyamada Yosei 31, 143, 272. 

Ozawa Seiyo 65, 91, 92, 104, 

Pan Ku 20. 

Pascal's triangle 51, 114. 
Pentagonal star 67. 
Physics 263. 

TT 60, 63, 65, 78, 85, in, 129, 
144, i45> IS 1 - J 53> 160, 179, 

182, 191, 212, 223, 224. 

Positive and negative 48. 

Postow 137. 

Power series 108. 

Prismatoid 164. 

Pythagorean theorem 10, 13, 180. 

Rabbi ben Ezra 84. 

Recurring fractions 176, 198. 

Regis 154. 

Regula falsi 13. 

Regular polygons 63, 65, 107, 


Reinaud 6. 
Ricci 132, 254. 
Riken 199. 
Rodet 1 8. 
Roots 212. 

See Equations, Square root, 

Cube root. 
Roulettes 242, 247, 250. 

Saito Gicho 242. 

Saito Gigi 242. 

Sakabe Kohan 172, 208, 259, 

266, 268, 270. 

Sangi 1 8, 21, 23, 47, 52, 213. 
San-k'ai Chung-ch'a 9. 



Sato Moshun (Shigeharu) 24, 45, 

65, 86, 88, 89, 130. 
Sato Seiko 85, 130. 
Sawaguchi Kazuyuki 45, 86, 95, 


Schambergen 137. 
Schools 207, 271. 
Schotel 135. 
Seki Kowa 17, 82, 91, 138; 

144, 145, 147, 151, 156, 159, 

209, 218, 225, 270. 
Senno 260. 
Series 161, 177, 200, 203, 211, 


Sharp 14. 
Shibamura 64. 
Shibukawa Keiyu 264. 
Shibukawa Shunkai 130. 
Shih Hsing Dao 49. 
Shino Chikyo 241. 
Shiono Koteki 144. 
Shiraishi Chochu 34, 201, 233, 
Shizuki Tadao 141, 263. 
Shotoku Taishi 8. 
Siebold 217, 264. 
Skew surface 242. 
Smith 6, 19, 30, 35, 51, 114, 


Someya Harufusa 144. 
Soroban 18, 31, 47, 176, 213, 

259, 276. 
Sou Lin 20. 
Sphere 63, 76. 
Spiral 163. 

Square root 176, 177, 200. 
Suan-hsiao Chi-meng 146. 
Sumner 7, 8. 

Sun-tsu 21. 

Sun-tsu Suan-ching 9, 10. 

Surveying 256. 

Suzuki Yen 252. 

Swan-king 9. 

Swan-pan 19, 29, 47. 

T'ai tsou 29. 

Takebe Kenko 48, 52, 76, 95, 

98, 103, 104, 112, 128, 129, 

143146, 151, 153, 158, 

166, 168. 

Takahara Kisshu 64, 86, 92. 
Takahashi Kageyasu (Keiho) 

Takahashi Shiji 141, 206, 207, 

217, 259, 263, 264, 271. 
Takahashi Yoshiyasu 276. 
Takaku Kenjiro 250, 273. 
Takeda Saisei 166. 
Takeda Shingen 216. 
Takeda Tokunoshin 231. 
Takemura Kokaku 270. 
Takenouchi 241. 
Takuma Genzayemon 179. 
Tani Shomo 271. 
Tanimoto 15. 
Tatamu process 125. 
Tawara Kamei 64. 
Tendai problems 114. 
Tengen jutsu 48, 102. 
Tenji 9. 
Tenjin 15. 
Tenzan method 103, 104, 107, 

159, 182, 196, 208, 218, 219, 

243, 274. 
Terauchi Gompei 159. 



Tetsu-jutsu method 106. 
Tokuhisa Komatsu 129. 
Torres 255. 
Toyota 243. 
Toyota Bunkei 182. 
Trapezium 226, 227. 
Trigonometry 196, 213, 25 6, 

259, 276. 
Ts'ai Ch'en 20. 
Tschotu 19. 

Tsu Ch'ung-chih 112, 147. 
Tsuboi Yoshitomo 166. 
Tsu da Yenkyu 198. 

Uchida Gokan 15, 33, 238, 

241, 270, 271. 
Uchida Kyumei 248. 
Unknown quantity 51. 
Uyeno 276. 

Van Name 18. 

Van Schooten 133, 134, 138. 

Vissiere 18, 19, 29. 

Vlacq 268. 

Wada Nei 114, 219, 220, 230, 

248, 271. 

Wake Yukimasa 276. 
Walius 256. 
Wallis 154. 
Wang Pao-ling 8. 
Wang Pao-san 8. 
Wasan i . 

Watanabe Ishin 267, 268. 
Watanabe Manzo Kazu 76. 
Wei Chih 112, 147. 

Westphal 33. 

Williams 5. 

Wittstein 197. 

Wu-t'sao Suan-shu 9, n. 

Wylie 10, n, 12, 19, 49, 274. 

Xavier 255. 

Yamada Jisuke 231. 
Yamada Jusei 64. 
Yamaji Kaiko 266, 268. 
Yamaji Shuju 177, 181, 183. 
Yamamoto Hifumi 176. 
Yamamoto Hokuzan 274. 
Yamamoto Kakuan 166, 176. 
Yamamoto Kazen 243, 245. 
Yang Houei (Hoei, Hwuy, Hui) 

21, 22, 51, 116. 
Yanagawa Shunzo 275. 
Yanagi Yuyetsu 252. 
Yegawa Keishi 259, 270. 
Yenami Washo 64. 
Yendan process 103, 129, 130. 
Yenri 92, 143, 150, 196, 200, 

212, 218, 225, 230, 238, 240, 


Yih-king 20. 
Yokoyama 136, 138. 
Yoshida 17, 44, 59, 66, 84. 
Yoshida's problems 66. 
Yoshikadsu 180. 
Yoshio Shunzo 266, 277. 
Yoshitane 64. 
Yosho 181. 
Yoshio 277. 
Yuasa Tokushi 128. 

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