Mathematician:Simon Stevin

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Flemish mathematician, engineer and writer most famous for inventing the decimal notation for the rendering of fractions.

Recommended the use of a decimal system be used for weights and measures, coinage and for measurement of angles.

Wrote most of his work in Dutch, believing it the best language for communication of scientific and mathematical ideas.

Responsible for the experiment famously and inaccurately attributed to Galileo Galilei of dropping $2$ lead spheres, one ten times the mass of the other, over a height of $30$ feet, and noting that they take the same time to fall.

This was done in $1586$, and so may well pre-date any work by Galileo on this topic.




  • Born: 1548 in Bruges, Burgundian Netherlands (now Belgium)
  • 1585: Chosen by William the Silent to be the tutor to his son Maurice of Nassau
  • Died: February 1620 in The Hague, Dutch Republic (now Netherlands)


  • 1582: Tafelen van Interest ("Tables of interest")
  • 1583: Problemata geometrica
  • 1585: De Thiende ("The tenth") in which decimals were introduced into Europe
  • 1585: La pratique d'arithmétique
  • 1585: L'arithmétique in which he presented a uniform treatment for solving algebraic equations

Also known as

Simon Stevin was also known as Simon Stevinus.