Measured Words explores the rich commerce between computation and writing that proliferated in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. In this captivating and generously illustrated work, Arielle Saiber studies the relationship between number, shape, and the written word in the works of four exceptional thinkers of the time: Leon Battista Alberti, Luca Pacioli, Niccol? Tartaglia, and Giambattista Della Porta.
Although these Renaissance humanists came from different social classes and practised the mathematical and literary arts at varying levels of sophistication, they were all guided by a sense that there exist deep ontological and epistemological bonds between computational and verbal thinking and production. Their shared view that a network or continuity exists between the literary arts and mathematics yielded extraordinary results, from Alberti’s treatise on cryptography and Pacioli’s design calculations for the Roman alphabet to Tartaglia’s poetic solutions of cubic equations and Della Porta’s dramatic applications of geometry. Through lively, cogent analysis of these and other related texts of the period, Measured Words presents, literally and figuratively, brilliant examples of what interdisciplinary work can offer us.