The Galileo Project
site map

Vlacq [Vlack, Vlaccus], Adriaan

1. Dates
Born: Gouda, 1600
Died: The Hague, late 1666 or early 1667
Dateinfo: Death Uncertain
Lifespan: 67
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
The sources say only that he was from a well-to-do family. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenboek says that the family had furnished many members to the city government.
I accept the statement that they were well-to-do.
3. Nationality
Birth: Dutch
Career: Dutch, English, French
Death: Dutch
4. Education
Schooling: No University
There is no mention of any university education.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist (assumed)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
With a local surveyor he translated and published the new concept of logarithms in the 1620's. In 1628 he published the first full table of logs to base 10 from 1 to 100,000, calculated to ten places. As nearly as I can find out, this heroic task has never been repeated. All subsequent log tables are copies of Vlacq's.
In 1633 he also published tables of the logs of the trigonometric functions.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Publishing
Vlacq was initially apparently a bookseller who became a publisher primarily to circulate his tables.
1632-42: He had a book business in London but left because of the Civil War.
1642-8: He had a book business in Paris.
After 1648 he moved back to The Hague where he lived from then on.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
The only suggestion of patronage is the dedication to Charles II of a royalist work, in English, which he published in 1652. The dedication is by Vlacq, not by the author.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Applied Mathematics
His mathematical work is all directed toward facilitating computations.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenboek.
  2. J.W.L. Glaisher, "Notice . . . in Early Logarithmic Tables," Philosophical Magazine, 44 (1872), 291-303, 500-6, and 45 (1873), 376-82.
  3. D. Bierens de Haan, "On Certain Early Logarithmic Tables," Philosophical Magazine, 45 (1873), 371-6.
  4. J.W.L. Glaisher, "On Errors in Vlacq's Table," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, May and June 1872 and June 1873.
  5. Parts of a report on mathematical tables, Report of the 43rd Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held Sept. 1873, (London, 1874), 51-5, 63-4, 119, 141-2, 162-3.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.