Thymaridas of Paros

Quick Info

about 400 BC
Paros, Greece
about 350 BC

Thymaridas was a Greek follower of Pythagoras who wrote on prime numbers and gave methods for solving simultaneous linear equations .


We are told a little about Thymaridas' life. He was apparently a rich man but, for some reason we are not told about, he fell into poverty. Thestor of Poseidonia sailed to Paros to help him with money specially collected for his benefit.

Thymaridas was a Pythagorean and a number theorist who wrote on prime numbers. Iamblichus tells us that Thymaridas called a prime number rectilinear since it can only be represented one-dimensionally. Non-primes such as 6 are represented by rectangles of sides 2 and 3. We are also told that he called 'one' a 'limiting quantity' or a 'limit of fewness'.

Thymaridas also gave methods for solving simultaneous linear equations which became known as the 'flower of Thymaridas'. For the nn equations in nn unknowns
x+x1+x2+...+xn1=Sx + x_{1} + x_{2} + ... + x_{n-1} = S
x+x1=a1x + x_{1} = a_{1}
x+x2=a2x + x_{2} = a_{2}
x+xn1=an1x + x_{n-1} = a_{n-1}
then Thymaridas gives the solution
x=a1+a2+....+an1Sn2x = \Large\frac {a_{1} + a_{2} + .... + a_{n-1} - S}{n - 2}.
He also shows how certain other types of equations can be put into this form.

References (show)

  1. G L Huxley, Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990).
    See THIS LINK.
  2. T L Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics (2 Vols.) (Oxford, 1921).

Additional Resources (show)

Other pages about Thymaridas:

  1. See Thymaridas on a timeline

Other websites about Thymaridas:

  1. Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Cross-references (show)

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update April 1999