World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ptolemy's table of chords

Article Id: WHEBN0030684123
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ptolemy's table of chords  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of trigonometry topics, Aristarchus' inequality, Āryabhaṭa's sine table, Gerald J. Toomer, Almagest
Collection: Elementary Special Functions, History of Astronomy, History of Mathematics, Trigonometry
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Ptolemy's table of chords

The table of chords, created by the astronomer, geometer, and geographer Ptolemy in Egypt during the 2nd century AD, is a trigonometric table in Book I, chapter 11 of Ptolemy's Almagest,[1] a treatise on mathematical astronomy. It is essentially equivalent to a table of values of the sine function. It was the earliest trigonometric table extensive enough for many practical purposes, including those of astronomy (an earlier table of chords by Hipparchus gave chords only for arcs that were multiples of 7½° = π/24 radians).[2] Several centuries passed before more extensive trigonometric tables were created.

Contents

  • The chord function and the table 1
  • How Ptolemy computed chords 2
  • The numeral system and the appearance of the untranslated table 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • External links 5

The chord function and the table

Example: The length of the chord subtending a 109.5° arc is approximately 98.

A chord of a circle is a line segment whose endpoints are on the circle. Ptolemy used a circle whose diameter is 120. He tabulated the length of a chord whose endpoints are separated by an arc of n degrees, for n ranging from 1/2 to 180 by increments of 1/2. In modern notation, the length of the chord corresponding to an arc of θ degrees is

\mathrm{chord}\ \theta = 120 \, \sin\left(\frac{\theta^\circ}{2}\right) = 60 \cdot \left( 2 \, \sin\left(\frac{\pi\theta}{360} \text{ radians} \right) \right).

As θ goes from 0 to 180, the chord of a θ° arc goes from 0 to 120. For tiny arcs, the chord is to the arc as π is to 3, or more precisely, the ratio can be made as close as desired to π/3 ≈ 1.04719755 by making θ small enough. Thus, for the arc of (1/2)°, the chord length is slightly more than the arc angle. As the arc increases, the ratio of the chord to the arc decreases. When the arc reaches 60°, the chord is exactly equal to the arc, i.e. chord 60° = 60. For arcs of more than 60°, the chord is less than the arc, until an arc of 180° is reached, when the chord is only 120.

The fractional parts of chord lengths were expressed in sexagesimal, i.e. base-60, numerals. For example, where the length of a chord subtended by a 112° arc is reported to be 99p  29'  5", it has a length of

99 + \frac{29}{60} + \frac{5}{60^2},

rounded to the nearest 1/602.[1]

After the columns for the arc and the chord, a third column is labeled "sixtieths". For an arc of θ°, the entry in the "sixtieths" column is

\frac{\mathrm{chord} \left(\theta + \tfrac12 \right)^\circ - \mathrm{chord} \left( \theta^\circ\right)}{1/2}.

This is the average number of sixtieths that must be added to chord(θ°) for each 1° increase in θ°, between the entry for θ° and that for (θ + ½)°. Thus, it is used for linear interpolation. Glowatzki and Göttsche showed that Ptolemy must have calculated chords to five sexigesimal places in order to achieve the degree of accuracy found in the "sixtieths" column.[3]

\begin{array}{|l|rrr|rrr|} \hline \text{arc} & \text{chord} & & & \text{sixtieths} & & \\ \hline {}\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\, \tfrac12 & 0 & 31 & 25 & 1 & 2 & 50 \\ {}\,\,\,\,\,\,\, 1 & 1 & 2 & 50 & 1 & 2 & 50 \\ {}\,\,\,\,\,\,\, 1\tfrac12 & 1 & 34 & 15 & 1 & 2 & 50 \\ {}\,\,\,\,\,\,\, \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots \\ 109 & 97 & 41 & 38 & 0 & 36 & 23 \\ 109\tfrac12 & 97 & 59 & 49 & 0 & 36 & 9 \\ 110 & 98 & 17 & 54 & 0 & 35 & 56 \\ 110\tfrac12 & 98 & 35 & 52 & 0 & 35 & 42\\ 111 & 98 & 53 & 43 & 0 & 35 & 29 \\ 111\tfrac12 & 99 & 11 & 27 & 0 & 35 & 15 \\ 112 & 99 & 29 & 5 & 0 & 35 & 1\\ 112\tfrac12 & 99 & 46 & 35 & 0 & 34 & 48 \\ 113 & 100 & 3 & 59 & 0 & 34 & 34 \\ {}\,\,\,\,\,\,\, \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots & \vdots \\ 179 & 119 & 59 & 44 & 0 & 0 & 25 \\ 179\frac12 & 119 & 59 & 56 & 0 & 0 & 9 \\ 180 & 120 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ \hline \end{array}

How Ptolemy computed chords

Chapter 10 of Book I of the Almagest presents geometric theorems used for computing chords. Ptolemy used geometric reasoning based on Proposition 10 of Book XIII of Euclid's Elements to find the chords of 72° and 36°. That Proposition states that if an equilateral pentagon is inscribed in a circle, then the area of the square on the side of the pentagon equals the sum of the areas of the squares on the sides of the hexagon and the decagon inscribed in the same circle.

He used Ptolemy's theorem on quadrilaterals inscribed in a circle to derive formulas for the chord of a half-arc, the chord of the sum of two arcs, and the chord of a difference of two arcs. The theorem states that for a quadrilateral inscribed in a circle, the product of the lengths of the diagonals equals the sum of the products of the two pairs of lengths of opposite sides. The derivations of trigonometric identities rely on a cyclic quadrilateral in which one side is a diameter of the circle.

To find the chords of arcs of 1°  and ½° he used approximations based on Aristarchus' inequality. The inequality states that for arcs α and β, if 0 < β < α < 90°, then

\frac{\sin \alpha}{\sin \beta} < \frac\alpha\beta < \frac{\tan\alpha}{\tan\beta}.

Ptolemy showed that for arcs of 1° and ½°, the approximations correctly give the first two sexigesimal places after the integer part.

The numeral system and the appearance of the untranslated table

Lengths of arcs of the circle, in degrees, and the integer parts of chord lengths, were expressed in a base-10 numeral system that used 21 of the letters of the Greek alphabet with the meanings given in the following table, and a symbol, "∠' ", that means 1/2. Two of the letters, labeled "archaic" below, had not been in use in the Greek language for some centuries before the Almagest was written.

\begin{array}{|rlr|rlr|rlr|} \hline \alpha & \mathrm{alpha} & 1 & \iota & \mathrm{iota} & 10 & \varrho & \mathrm{rho} & 100 \\ \beta & \mathrm{beta} & 2 & \kappa & \mathrm{kappa} & 20 & & & \\ \gamma & \mathrm{gamma} & 3 & \lambda & \mathrm{lambda} & 30 & & & \\ \delta & \mathrm{delta} & 4 & \mu & \mathrm{mu} & 40 & & & \\ \varepsilon & \mathrm{epsilon} & 5 & \nu & \mathrm{nu} & 50 & & & \\ \stigma & \mathrm{stigma\ (archaic)} & 6 & \xi & \mathrm{xi} & 60 & & & \\ \zeta & \mathrm{zeta} & 7 & \omicron & \mathrm{omicron} & 70 & & & \\ \eta & \mathrm{eta} & 8 & \pi & \mathrm{pi} & 80 & & & \\ \vartheta & \mathrm{theta} & 9 & \koppa & \mathrm{koppa\ (archaic)} & 90 & & & \\ \hline \end{array}

Thus, for example, an arc of 143 12° is expressed as \varrho\mu\gamma\angle'.

The fractional parts of chord lengths required great accuracy, and were given in two columns in the table: the first giving an integer multiple of 1/60, in the range 0–59, the second an integer multiple of 1/602 = 1/3600, also in the range 0–59.

Thus in Heiberg's with the table of chords on pages 48–63Almagestedition of the , the beginning of the table, corresponding to arcs from 1/2° through 7 12°, looks like this:

\begin{array}{ccc} \pi\varepsilon\varrho\iota\varphi\varepsilon\varrho\varepsilon\iota\tilde\omega\nu & \varepsilon\overset{\text{'}}\nu\vartheta\varepsilon\iota\tilde\omega\nu & \overset{\text{`}}\varepsilon\xi\eta\kappa\omicron\sigma\tau\tilde\omega\nu \\ \begin{array}{|l|} \hline \angle' \\ \alpha \\ \alpha\;\angle' \\ \hline\beta \\ \beta\;\angle' \\ \gamma \\ \hline\gamma\;\angle' \\ \delta \\ \delta\;\angle' \\ \hline\varepsilon \\ \varepsilon\;\angle' \\ \stigma \\ \hline\stigma\;\angle' \\ \zeta \\ \zeta\;\angle' \\ \hline \end{array} & \begin{array}{|r|r|r|} \hline\circ & \lambda\alpha & \kappa\varepsilon \\ \alpha & \beta & \nu \\ \alpha & \lambda\delta & \iota\varepsilon \\ \hline \beta & \varepsilon & \mu \\ \beta & \lambda\zeta & \delta \\ \gamma & \eta & \kappa\eta \\ \hline \gamma & \lambda\vartheta & \nu\beta \\ \delta & \iota\alpha & \iota\stigma \\ \delta & \mu\beta & \mu \\ \hline \varepsilon & \iota\delta & \delta \\ \varepsilon & \mu\varepsilon & \kappa\zeta \\ \stigma & \iota\stigma & \mu\vartheta \\ \hline \stigma & \mu\eta & \iota\alpha \\ \zeta & \iota\vartheta & \lambda\gamma \\ \zeta & \nu & \nu\delta \\ \hline \end{array} & \begin{array}{|r|r|r|r|} \hline \circ & \alpha & \beta & \nu \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \nu \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \nu \\ \hline \circ & \alpha & \beta & \nu \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\eta \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\eta \\ \hline\circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\eta \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\zeta \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\zeta \\ \hline \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\stigma \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\varepsilon \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\delta \\ \hline \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\gamma \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\beta \\ \circ & \alpha & \beta & \mu\alpha \\ \hline \end{array} \end{array}

Later in the table, one can see the base-10 nature of the numerals expressing the integer parts of the arc and the chord length. Thus an arc of 85° is written as \pi\varepsilon (\pi for 80 and \varepsilon for 5) and not broken down into 60 + 25. The corresponding chord length is 81 plus a fractional part. The integer part begins with \pi\alpha, likewise not broken into 60 + 21. But the fractional part, 4/60 + 15/602, is written as \delta, for 4, in the 1/60 column, followed by \iota\varepsilon, for 15, in the 1/602 column.

\begin{array}{ccc} \pi\varepsilon\varrho\iota\varphi\varepsilon\varrho\varepsilon\iota\tilde\omega\nu & \varepsilon\overset{\text{'}}\nu\vartheta\varepsilon\iota\tilde\omega\nu & \overset{\text{`}}\varepsilon\xi\eta\kappa\omicron\sigma\tau\tilde\omega\nu \\ \begin{array}{|l|} \hline \pi\delta\angle' \\ \pi\varepsilon \\ \pi\varepsilon\angle' \\ \hline \pi\stigma \\ \pi\stigma\angle' \\ \pi\zeta \\ \hline \end{array} & \begin{array}{|r|r|r|} \hline \pi & \mu\alpha & \gamma \\ \pi\alpha & \delta & \iota\varepsilon \\ \pi\alpha & \kappa\zeta & \kappa\beta \\ \hline \pi\alpha & \nu & \kappa\delta \\ \pi\beta & \iota\gamma & \iota\vartheta \\ \pi\beta & \lambda\stigma & \vartheta \\ \hline \end{array} & \begin{array}{|r|r|r|r|} \hline \circ & \circ & \mu\stigma & \kappa\varepsilon \\ \circ & \circ & \mu\stigma & \iota\delta \\ \circ & \circ & \mu\stigma & \gamma \\ \hline \circ & \circ & \mu\varepsilon & \nu\beta \\ \circ & \circ & \mu\varepsilon & \mu \\ \circ & \circ & \mu\varepsilon & \kappa\vartheta \\ \hline \end{array} \end{array}

The table has 45 lines on each of eight pages—thus 360 lines.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^ Thurston, pp. 235–236.
  3. ^ Ernst Glowatzki and Helmut Göttsche, Die Sehnentafel des Klaudios Ptolemaios. Nach den historischen Formelplänen neuberechnet., München, 1976.
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

External links

  • J. L. Heiberg's with the table of chords on pages 48–63Almagestedition of the
  • Ptolemy's Table of Chords: Trigonometry in the Second Century, by Glenn Elert
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.