Title page, book of logarithmic tables by Briggs, 1624.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Henry Briggs (1561-1630) was the first Gresham Profesor of Geometry in London and the first Savilian Profesor of Geometry at Oxford. Briggs' advocacy of Napier's discovery of logarithms led to the immediate adoption of this new aid to calculation by other mathematical practioners. He suggested the decimal base instead of Napier's base of e=2.717 and undertook the work of calculating and preparing the tables, which extended to the fourteenth decimal place. Logarithms made the manipulation of large calculations simpler by adding or subtracting the index of two numbers and looking up the result in tables.