Mathematical Charts and Tables



Historians of mathematics and computing have tended to focus on published books of tables and the individuals and groups that produced them, rather than the kind of objects represented in the Smithsonian Mathematics Collections. Several of the works cited below are available online.

Archibald, R. C. Mathematical Table Makers Portraits, Paintings, Busts, Monuments, Bio-Bibliographical Notes, New York: Scripta Mathematica, 1948. This is an account of the lives and work of mathematical table makers.

Campbell-Kelly, M. et al. The History of Mathematical Tables: From Sumer to Spreadsheets, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.  This edited volume presents a broad view of table making.

Grier, D. A. When Computers Were Human, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. The volume focuses on tables from 1682 to 1930, in Europe and the United States.

Helfand, J.  Reinventing the Wheel, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.  This account of a wide array of slide charts and volvelles includes several produced by American manufacturers in 20th century.

Roegel, D., “The LOCOMAT Project: Recomputing Mathematical and Astronomical Tables,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 34 #2 (Apr-Jun 2012): 74-79. A description of recent attempts to recompute mathematical tables, as carried out by the LOCOMAT Project (

Williams, B. O. B. and R. G. Johnson. “Ready Reckoners,” IEEE Annals of of the History of Computing, 27 #4 (Oct-Dec 2005): 64-80. An account of inexpensive books of tables produced for practical use.