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Frans van Schooten

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Leiden, Netherlands

29 May 1660

Leiden, Netherlands

Frans van Schooten should not be confused with his father, Frans van Schooten (the elder), who was professor at the engineering school in Leiden. He enrolled at the University of Leiden in 1631 and he studied mathematics there.

In 1637 Descartes visited Leiden and met van Schooten. This proved important for van Schooten since Descartes provided contacts for van Schooten to become acquainted with Mersenne 's circle in Paris.

Some time after this he went abroad, travelling first to Paris and then to London where he stayed from 1641 to 1643. He discussed mathematics in these two centres and he continued to correspond with the mathematicians he met in these towns after his return to Leiden, but unfortunately this correspondence is now lost. While in Paris he obtained manuscripts Viète 's work and he later published them in Leiden.

In 1643 van Schooten became assistant to his father and when his father died two years later he was appointed to his father's chair.

Van Schooten was one of the main people to promote the spread of Cartesian geometry. He studied Stifel 's edition of Rudolff 's Coss and printed the first Latin version of Descartes La géométrie in 1649.

His own book Geometria a Renato Des Cartes appeared in two volumes 1659-1661. It contained appendices by three of van Schooten disciples, Jan de Witt , Johan Hudde , and Hendrick van Heuraet . He also published Exercitationes mathematicae in 1657.

Van Schooten also taught Huygens who became a friend. It was on Descartes 's recommendation that van Schooten replaced Stampioen as tutor to Huygens and his brother.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland