Math In the 15th and 16th centuries Counting by tens and tenths

By: Manuela Gómez, Sofía Melo, and Alejandro Gamboa


The 15th and 16th century marks the transition between the Medieval Ages, and the Renaissance. It is a time in which many advances and discoveries are made in all fields of science. There were many different mathematical advances during these two centuries, including the development of the actual metric and decimal system. It was developed by people such as John Wilkins, and Simon Stevin.

Before the metric/decimal system, parts of the body were used to measure things. For example, an inch was about the length of the thumb's first joint, and a cubit (unit to measure Noah's Ark) was probably the length of a man's forearm from elbow to fingertip. The decimal metric system was agreed upon as a common unit of measurement much later, but was created in these two centuries.

Simon Stevin

He was probably born in Bruges (facts are uncertain), around 1548, and studied at the Leiden University. He made several discoveries and advances in geometry, physics, engineering, and mathematics. One of his most important works was a booklet called De Thiende (The Art of Tenths) in 1585, in which he encouraged and explained the use of decimal numbers in the daily life.

Simon Stevin, (1548-1620)

Gabriel Mouton

Gabriel Mouton was born in France, between 1618 and 1628, and died in 1694. He proposed a standard of length units, based on the circumference of the earth, in a book called the Observationes Diametrorum Solis et Lunae Apparentium (1620). He published his work soon after another mathematician, John Wilkins, published a similar work. His ideas were supported and studied in London.

Aftermath and advantages

It was more than 100 years later, that the French started officially using the decimal metrical system as a unit of measurement. Most countries have adopted this system since then, because it has been proved to be exact, practical, and simple.

Relation with Classwork

We use the decimal system in our everyday life, as Simon Stevin predicted. We use it to solve problems, and equations used in class. We use this system to measure things such as volume, length, height, etc.

Work cited

"Gabriel Mouton." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Retrato de Simon Stevin. (1548 - 1620). Obras de arte. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accedido 31 Mar 2017.

"Simon Stevin." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.


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