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24/04/2017 Explicationdel'arithmtiquebinaire,quisesertdesseulscaractres0et1avecdesremarquessursonutilitetsurcequ'elledonnelesensdesa

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LEIBNIZ, Gottfried Wilhelm.

Explication de l'arithmtique binaire, qui se
sert des seuls caractres 0 et 1 avec des
remarques sur son utilit et sur ce qu'elle
donne le sens des anciennes gures
chinoises de Fohy.
Paris: Jean Boudot, 1703/1705. First edition.

First appearance of his famous paper on binary arithmetic (Norman:

From Cave Paintings to the Internet, 1679:) A dated manuscript by
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, preserved in the Niedersachsische
Landesbibliothek, Hannover, includes a brief discussion of the
possibility of designing a mechanical binary calculator which would
use moving balls to represent binary digits. Though Leibniz thought
of the application of binary arithmetic to computing in 1679, the
machine he outlined was never built, and he published nothing on
the subject until his Explication de l'arithmtique binaire, qui se sert
des seuls caracteres 0 & 1; avec des remarques sur son utilit, & sur
ce qu'elle donne le sens des anciens gues Chinoises de Fohy
published in Histoire de l'Acadmie Royale des Sciences anne
MDCCIII. Avec les mmoires de mathmatiques which appeared in
PRINT DESCRIPTION print in 1705.

The publication of the Explication was prompted by Leibnizs

correspondence with Joachim Bouvet, a member of the Jesuit
Mission in China. Leibniz had developed an interest in China, and in
April 1697 he edited a collection of letters and essays by members
of the Mission, entitled Novissima Sinica. A copy of this came into
the hands of Bouvet, who wrote to Leibniz on 18 October 1697
expressing his commendation of the work. Thus began an extended
correspondence between the two men which proved to be very
important for the dissemination of Leibnizs ideas about binary
arithmetic. The crucial exchange began on 15 February 1701, when
Leibniz wrote to Bouvet describing for his correspondent the
principles of his binary arithmetic, including the analogy of the
formation of all the numbers from 0 and 1 with the creation of the
world by God out of nothing. Bouvet immediately recognized the
relationship between the hexagrams of the I-Ching [or Book of
Changes] and the binary numbers and he communicated his
discovery in a letter written in Peking on 4 November 1701. This
reached Leibniz, after a detour through England, on 1 April 1703.
With this letter, Bouvet enclosed a woodcut of the arrangement of
the hexagrams attributed to Fu-Hsi, the mythical founder of
Chinese culture, which holds the key to the identication. Within a
week of receiving Bouvets letter, Leibniz had sent to Abb Bignon
for publication in the Mmoires of the Paris Academy his Explication
de l'Arithmtique binaire,... & sue ce qu'elle donne le sens des
anciens gures Chinoises de Fohy. Ten days later he sent a brief
account to Hans Sloane, the Secretary of the Royal Society. Leibniz
viewed binary arithmetic less as a computational tool than as a
means of discovering mathematical, philosophical and even
theological truths. He remarked to Tschirnhaus in 1682 that he
anticipated from the use of binary numbers discoveries in number
theory that other progressions could not reveal. It was at the same
time a candidate for the characteristica generalis, his long sought-
for alphabet of human thought. With base 2 numeration Leibniz

https://www.sophiararebooks.com/pages/books/2349/gottfriedwilhelmleibniz/explicationdelarithmetiquebinairequisesertdesseulscaracteres0et 1/2
24/04/2017 Explicationdel'arithmtiquebinaire,quisesertdesseulscaractres0et1avecdesremarquessursonutilitetsurcequ'elledonnelesensdesa

witnessed a conuence of several intellectual strands in his world

view, including theological and mystical ideas of order, harmony
and creation. Fontanelle, secretary of the Paris Academy, wrote the
unsigned review of Liebnizs paper for the Mmoires section of the
volume. He noted that arithmetic could have different bases besides
ten; bases such as 12, and two as in the case of Leibnizs binary
system. He also noted that although the binary system was not
practical for common use Leibniz thought that it would be of
advantage in advanced mathematics (W.P. Watson, antiquarian
book description, 01-21-2010).

This manuscript was rst published, along with as well as

facsimiles of Leibnizs Explication de l'arithmtique binaire (1705)
and his two letters to Johann Christian Schulenberg on binary
arithmetic (March 29 and May 17, 1698), in the Opera Omnia of
1768, with historical articles and translations in German, to
commemorate the 250th anniversary of Leibnizs death as Herrn
von Leibniz Rechnung mit Null und Eins (1966).

4to: 250 x 187 mm. In: Histoire de l'Acadmie Royale des Sciences,
anne 1703 (printed 1705), pp. 85-89. The complete volume
offered here in a ne contemporary full calf binding with richly gilt
spine and boards, heavily worn, front hinge cracked, rear board
starting, but not restored. First two, and last two, leaves with a
discrete institutional blind stamp. In all a very good copy of the rare
original Paris edition (a later Amsterdam reprint was also issued).
Frontispiece, (10), 148, 467, (1:blank), (1:errta), (1:blank) pp. and
12 engraved plates.

Item #2349

Price: $10,000.00


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