“A masterly though neglected work”, Boscovich’s treatise on conic sections

Archive for History of Exact Sciences 72 (4):453-495 (2018)
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Abstract

In this paper, we describe the genesis of Boscovich’s Sectionum Conicarum Elementa and discuss the motivations which led him to write this work. Moreover, by analysing the structure of this treatise in some depth, we show how he developed the completely new idea of “eccentric circle” and derived the whole theory of conic sections by starting from it. We also comment on the reception of this treatise in Italy, and abroad, especially in England, where—since the late eighteenth century—several authors found inspiration in Boscovich’s work to write their treatises on conic sections.

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