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William Oughtred

William Oughtred (March 5, 1575June 30, 1660) was an English mathematician. He is credited as the inventor of the slide rule in 1622, and introduced the "×" symbol for multiplication as well as the abbreviations "sin" and "cos" for the sine and cosine functions.

Oughtred was born at Eton, and educated there and at King's College, Cambridge, of which he became fellow. Being admitted to holy orders, he left the university about 1603, and was presented to the rectory of Aldbury, near Guildford in Surrey; and about 1628 he was appointed by the Earl of Arundel to instruct his son in mathematics. He corresponded with some of the most eminent scholars of his time on mathematical subjects; and his house was generally full of pupils from all quarters. It is said that he expired in a sudden transport of joy upon hearing the news of the vote at Westminster for the restoration of Charles II.

He published, among other mathematical works, Clavis Mathematicae (The Key to Mathematics), in 1631; a treatise on navigation entitled Circles of Proportion, in 1632; works on trigonometry and dialling, and his Opuscula Mathematica, published posthumously in 1676.

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Last updated: 08-01-2005 01:09:01
Last updated: 08-16-2005 10:08:50