Carl Benjamin Boyer, “Cardan and the Pascal triangle”, en American mathematical monthly 57/6 (1950), pp. 387-390.

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Carl Benjamin Boyer, “Cardan and the Pascal triangle”, en American mathematical monthly 57/6 (1950), pp. 387-390.

© All Rights Reserved

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Author(s): C. B. Boyer

Source: The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 57, No. 6 (Jun. - Jul., 1950), pp. 387-390

Published by: Mathematical Association of America

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2307638 .

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1950]

387

intersectionpointsin the configuration.Thus it is seen that an intersectionpoint

at the maximumdistance fromany particularpoint of the plane can be so isolated. Note that the definitionof a non-trivialintersectionpoint theoremalso

requiresat least threelines on a point and threepointson a line so that we have

at least threelines of the configurationconcurrentat the isolated point and cutting the axis in ordinarypoints. With the configurationof the theoremthus established in a non-desarguesianplane, it is seen that the argumentsof the preceding section apply as beforeto show that the theoremis false in every one of

the geometriesof class U.

Thus farwe have only considerednon-trivialconstructibleintersectionpoint

theoremsof euclidean geometry.However, we can show that possible theorems

which do not hold in euclidean geometrycannot hold in our non-desarguesian

planes either.For, considerthe configurationof such a theoremconstructedin a

euclidean plane. Establish the configurationin a non-desarguesianplane by

drawingan axis isolatingit completelyin the lowerhalf-plane.Then, ifthe theorem were valid in the non-desarguesiangeometry,it would hold in euclidean

geometryalso. We may now state

THEOREM6. All non-trivialconstructible

intersection

pointtheorems

arefalse in

each ofthegeometries

ofclass U.

This yields, by elementarymeans, the result of Moufang (l.c.) to the effect

that all non-trivialconstructibleintersectionpoint theoremsare independentof

the plane axioms of projectivegeometry.It is interestingto note that a common

geometricmodel (Moulton's geometry,for example) can be exhibited to show

this independence forall non-trivialconstructibleintersectionpoint theorems,

and that each geometryof class U will serve as such a model.

College

C. B. BOYER, Brooklyn

the form

1

2

1

1

a

4

. . . .

4

1

6

h fau . . T. .

arithm9tique

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

388

[June,

(published posthumouslyin 1665). The device may have been known to Omar

Khayyam (c. 1100), it appeared in China in 1303, and it was published in

Europe by Apian in 1529. [1] Similar formsof the trianglewere given before

Pascal by numerous men, including Stifel (1544), Scheubel (1545), Peletier

(1549), Rudolph (1553), Tartaglia (1556), Stevin (1585), Girard (1629), Oughtred (1631), and Briggs (1633). [2] However, it seems still to be widely believed

[3] that "the triangulararray was investigatedby Pascal (1654) under a new

form,substantiallyas follows":

1...

4...

6.*.

4--.

that they declined to recognize any dependence of Pascal upon the earlier instances. [4] There also is a general impressionthat to Pascal is due the first

study of the relationshipsexhibited by the triangle and their application to

questions in the theoryof probability. [5] It is the purpose of this note to call

attention to the work of one whose name has not been associated with the

arithmetictriangle but who anticipated Pascal with respect both to the form

and the study of the triangle.This man, perhaps the greatest mathematician

of his day, was JeromeCardan (1501-1576).

The Ars magna, which appeared in 1545, contains no referenceto the arithmetic triangle;but in 1570 Cardan published his Opus novumde proportionibus,

and in this work the Pascal triangleappears in both formsand with varying

applications. In connectionwith the problem of the determinationof roots of

numbers, Cardan used the familiarearlier form,citing Stifel as the putative

discoverer. Here he gave the numbers in the triangle through n = 17, and he

pointed out the relationship,known to Stifel,equivalent to

{m8

(n

) (n+

m + 18

n+ 1

is taken up, and then Cardan gave the arithmetictriangle,throughn= 11, in

virtuallythe formlater made famousby Pascal. [7] Even in the case of Cardan,

however,this formwas not entirelyoriginal,forin 1556 Tartaglia had published

it in a somewhat similar square array, [8] and had used it in determiningthe

ofa binomial

in the expansionof the twelfthpower (cubo-censo-censo)

coefficients

of

the

newer

with

arrangement

In

connection

(una quantitadivisia in due parti).

and

name

his

by

known

formula

the

familiar

the triangle Cardan reiterated

enunciated by him many years before-the total numberof differentcombina-

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

1950]

CARDAN

AND THE

PASCAL

TRIANGLE

389

tions which can be formedfromn different

one pleases, is given by 2 - 1. As an illustrationof the usefulnessof his result,

he determinedthe numberof possible combinationsof 25 differentobjects, the

result being 225_-1=16777215. Following this, Cardan gave something more

important which seems to have been overlooked by historiansand which incorrectlyhas been ascribed to Pascal. [9] This is the rule of succession, equivalent to

{n

r/

n- r+

1(nA

\r-1

To obtain the third element in the row correspondingto n =11, for example,

subtract one fromeleven, divide by two, and then multiply by eleven. The

result,55, is the numberdesired.To obtain the next number,subtract two from

eleven, divide by three,and multiplyby 55. Continuingin this manner,Cardan

obtained all of the elementsin the sequence of combinationsof eleven objects.

[10] Had Cardan applied his rule to the expansion of binomials,he would have

anticipated the binomialtheoremforpositiveintegralpowers.Instead he emphasized the connectionbetweenthe numbersof the arithmetictriangleand "mixed

proportions,"i.e., progressionsof higherorder,and the applicabilityof these to

musical theory.There can be little doubt but that Cardan, like Tartaglia, was

aware that the elements in the triangle are coefficientsin the expansions of

binomials. That a clear-cutstatementof Cardan's rule of succession as applied

to the binomial theoremshould have been delayed forabout anothercenturyis

one of the anomalies in the development of mathematics,and that the arithmetic triangle should be named for Pascal rather than for one of his many

anticipatorsis largelyan accident of history.

References

(2 vols.,New York, 1923-1925),vol. 2, pp. 508-511.

1. D. E. Smith,Historyofmathematics

thisMONTHLY, 56, 1949,147-157.

Cf.J. L. Coolidge,The storyofthebinomialtheorem,

de Pascal, Annalesde la

sur le trianglearithm6tique

2. HenriBosmans,Une notehistorique

de Bruxelles,31 (1906-1907),65-72. Cf. Smith,loc. cit.,and FlorianCajori,

Soci6t6Scientifique

(2nded., New York,1931),pp. 76, 183,187.

Historyofmathematics

3. Smith,op. cit.,and Coolidge,loc. cit.

uber Geschichteder Mathematik(4 vols., Leipzig, 19004. MoritzCantor,Vorlesungen

derMathematik(2 vols., Leipzig,1908-1921),

Geschichte

1908),II, 685-688;HeinrichWieleitner,

(2nded., 7 vols.,

derElementar-Mathematik

Tropfke,Geschichte

vol. II, part1, p. 93; Johannes

Berlinand Leipzig,1921-1924),VI, 34-39.

ofthemathematical

A history

theoryof

5. Cajori,Cantor,and Smith,op. cit.;I. Todhunter,

(Cambridgeand London,1865),p. 17 f.

probability

6. JeromeCardan,Operaomnia(10 vols.,Lugduni,1663),IV, 529.

7. Ibid.,IV, 557.

8. NiccoloTartaglia,Generaltrattatodi numeriet misure(part II, Vinegia,1556),book 1,

imXVI. undXVII. Jah1r

derMathematik

fol.17; bookII, fols.69-73.H. G. Zeuthen,Geschichte

Libri, Histoiredes sciences

hundert(Germaned., Leipzig,1903), pp. 102, 169,and Guillaume-

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390

GEOMETRY

[June,

theworkofTartagliabutnot

math6matiques

thatofCardan.

9. Encyclop6diedes sciencesmath6matiques,

I (1), 1 (1904), pp. 83-84. Tropfke,loc. cit.,

ascribesCardan'sruleofsuccessionto Briggsin 1633.

10. Operaomnia,IV, 558.

ELEMENTARY GEOMETRY

I. J. SCHOENBERG, University

of Pennsylvania

Xl=-1,

Xn= (-

X3= -1,...

X2=1,

1) . This is a very special case of representationof a periodic sequence

for periodic sequences of the ordinary Fourier series expansion of periodic

functions.Its only mentionin our textbook literatureis under the heading of

practical harmonic analysis, or trigonometricinterpolation,as found in books

on applied mathematicsor numerical methods; and yet, the range of applicationsof the finiteFourierseriesextendsbeyond thisimportantpractical problem.

It is intimatelyrelated to the Gaussian sums and has been used for number

theoreticpurposes by Eisenstein and morerecentlyby H. A. Rademacher. The

followinglines presentthe basic propertiesof'the (complex) finiteFourier series

stressingits geometricsignificanceand followedby a few applications to extremal problemsof elementarygeometry.

?1. THE FINITE FOURIER SERIES

a second set of k arbitrarycomplex numberszo,z1, . . ., Zk-1, then there is one

+?k 1Xk-l satisfyingthe equaand only one polynomial P(x) =o+?jx+

tions P(co,) =z, (v=0, 1, * *, k-1) or

(1)

Zp)o

1lWp +

~~~~~2 ~

P2WP

k-i1L

Pk-1WP

(V =

12

. . .

k - 1). [1]

Indeed, the systemof linear equations (1) in the unknownsRphas a non-vanishing,(Vandermonde) determinantand has thereforea unique solution. We obtain

the finiteFourier series (abbreviated in the sequel to f.F.S.) if we choose the

numberscopto be the kth roots of unity; so forthe remainderof this paper we

shall assume that

(2)

w,= e2liPk

(v = 0, 1,

k

k-1).

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