John Napier, 1614
Seeing there is nothing that is so troublesome to mathematical practice, nor that doth more molest and hinder calculators, than the multiplications, divisions, square and cubical extractions of great numbers…. I began therefore to consider in my mind by what certain and ready art I might remove those hindrances.—JOHN NAPIER, Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio (1614)1
Rarely in the history of science has an abstract mathematical idea been received more enthusiastically by the entire scientific community than the invention of logarithms. And one can hardly imagine a less likely person to have made that invention. His name was John Napier.2
The son of Sir Archibald Napier and his first wife, Janet Bothwell, John was born ...