Summa de Arithmetica


The father of accounting is an Italian mathematician named Luca Pacioli. He published his Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita (Summary of arithmetic, geometry, proportions and proportionality) in the year 1494.

The book was a codex of all current mathematical knowledge written in plain language.

The late 15th century was marked by a revolution in communication technology. Gutenberg’s printing press allowed for wide dissemination of knowledge and created intellectual access to fields that had previously been hidden from most people.

The Protestant revolution is largely tied to the newfound accessibility of printed volumes of the Bible, in which scholars could read for themselves that there were no scriptures relating to purchased indulgences. The selling of forgiveness had been a complete invention of the church.

Luca Pacioli commemorated on an Italian stamp


Pacioli’s Summa de Arithmetica is a broad overview of mathematical knowledge, covering the subjects you might find today in high school classrooms. Summa contains clear, comprehensive lessons in algebra, trigonometry, and Euclidean geometry.

Summa de Arithmetica has a chapter on business and financial calculation, called Particularis de computis et scripturis (Details of calculation and recording). This chapter is devoted to accounting methods Pacioli’s day. Summa de Arithmetica is the founding document of modern accounting, and includes the first written record of double-entry accounting.

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