Van Rekeningh in Spelen van Geluck / De Ratiociniis in Aleæ Ludo: Facts and figures Load Home page + menu
Started 21 jan, 2004
Last Update 27 may, 2010

Van Rekeningh in Spelen van Geluck
De Ratiociniis in Aleæ Ludo

Facts and figures

Why another text on Huygens' early work on probability? The main reason is the way even experts like Hald and Stigler seem to stumble when they refer to it. A second reason is the way people tend to talk about it. It seems to have grown (and not always in the eyes of the beholder) from a tract to a 'texbook' during the 350 years since it came into existence. I therefore went back to the roots and what follows is a report of my findings.

What was the title?
What seemed to be a simple question, appears to have a somewhat complicated answer, as the titles of both the Dutch and the Latin text underwent some changes in the proces of production. Even in the final product the titles are not consistently spelled. Dutch was still a fluid language without rigid spelling rules. Reference and contents of Van Schootens Mathematical Excercises.*
The two editions of the Mathematical Excercises were published in 1657 (Latin edition) and 1660 (Dutch edition). Both editions appeared as one volume with five separate parts ('libri quinque'/'vijf boecken') + one appendix (Latin edition) or two appendices (Dutch edition), each part with its own title page and publication(?) year. The five parts and the appendices were consecutively numbered (see tables below). It seems to me therefor not correct, like mister Stigler does (1986, 1999), to use the publication year of the first/earliest 'boeck' of the Dutch edition (1659) as the publication year of the Huygens text (1660). In a personal note (25/03/2004) mister Stigler explained that he wanted 'an accurate citation to the volume rather than a date of appearance'. This seems a correct approach, but may confuse some readers.
A second remark has te be made on the way the text 'Ex officina Johannis Elsevirii' is mistreated. It simply means 'from the office of Johan Elsevier'. Mister Stigler (1986, 1999) however omits the 'Ex officina' and just writes 'Johannis Elsevirii' which leaves the genitive case 'floating'.
Lastly have I tried to give some information on the contents and size of the other five parts of Van Schootens Mathematical Excercises.

Latin edition Dutch Edition Content of De Ratiociniis in Aleæ Ludo. Later editions and translations of the Ratiociniis and Rekeningh texts
All texts apart from the ones marked - have been inspected by me How not to refer to the Ratiociniis.
I would like to conclude this text with a few examples of how some well known authors refer to the De ratiociniis in aleæ ludo. I leave it to to reader to spot the errors in these references, which for the most part shouldn't be too hard, after reading the text above. It is not my intent to make fun of the authors but to make others as well as myself aware that even after you put all your effort in details like getting the references right, there still will always be someone else who discovers yet another error.
* Until januari 2005 this chapter started as follows: Both editions of the Mathematical Excercises were published over two separate periods of two years (Latin: 1656,1657; Dutch: 1659,1660). Both editions appeared as five separate volumes ('libri quinque'/'vijf boecken'), each volume with its own title page and publication year. The five volumes were consecutively numbered (see tables below) and were frequently bound together after the publication of the last one.. Only after inspecting a copy in the Leiden University Library, I discovered that I had been misled by the way it was catalogued in the University Library. The catalogue suggested there were five separate volumes: one for each 'boeck'. But all five entries appeared to refer to the same volume. It seems a sign that I had fallen in the very trap I have been warning others for.