Books of mathematical tables owned by Charles Babbage, 16th-19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Part of the collection of booksof mathematical tables asembled by the British mathematician and computing pioneer Charles Babbage (1791-1871). His private collection preserved at the Royal Observatory at Edinburgh contained over three hundred volumes. He was a fastidious analyst of tabular error. Mathematical tables were an aid to those profesions which required the performing of calculations demanding more than a few figures of accuracy, such as surveyors and engineers.