The origin of the decimal point, a cornerstone of modern mathematics, has been traced back to the 1440s, about 150 years earlier than previously believed. Historically attributed to Christopher Clavius in 1593, new research reveals that Italian merchant and mathematician Giovanni Bianchini should be credited with the innovation. Bianchini’s dual role as a merchant and an astronomer led him to devise a decimal system for practical trade calculations, which he then applied to astronomical computations. This was a significant departure from the complex base 60 system used at the time. Math historian Glen Van Brummelen’s discovery of Bianchini’s use of the decimal point in trigonometric tables and explanations for multiplication indicates that Clavius likely borrowed this system from Bianchini’s works. This finding not only rewrites a chapter of mathematical history but also highlights the profound impact of the decimal point on various fields, including finance and science. Bianchini’s contribution has proven to be a fundamental element in achieving the precision required for advanced calculations in our universe.

Read more at Popular Mechanics…

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