The
**Oxford Calculators** were a group of 14th-century
thinkers, almost all associated with Merton
College, Oxford, who took a strikingly logico-mathematical approach
to philosophical problems.The key "calculators", writing in
the second quarter of the 14th century, were

Thomas Bradwardine,

William Heytesbury,

Richard Swineshead and

John Dumbleton.These men built on the
slightly earlier work of

Walter Burley
and

Gerard of Brussels.

## Science

The Oxford Calculators distinguished

kinematics from

dynamics, emphasizing kinematics, and
investigating instantaneous velocity. They first formulated the

mean speed theorem:

*a body
moving with constant velocity travels the same distance as an
accelerated body in the same time if its velocity is half the final
speed of the accelerated body*. They also demonstrated this
theoremâ€”the essence of "The Law of Falling Bodies" â€” long before

Galileo, who is generally credited
with it.

The mathematical physicist and historian of science

Clifford Truesdell, wrote:

In

*Tractatus de proportionibus* (1328), Thomas Bradwardine
extended the theory of proportions of

Eudoxus to anticipate the concept of

exponential growth, later
developed by the

Bernoulli and

Euler, with

compound
interest as a special case. Arguments for the mean speed
theorem (above) require the modern concept of

limit, so Bradwardine had to use
arguments of his day. Mathematician and mathematical historian Carl
O. Boyer writes, "Bradwardine developed the Boethian theory of
double or triple or, more generally, what we would call 'n-tple'
proportion".

Boyer also writes that "the works of Bradwardine had contained some
fundamentals of

trigonometry gleaned
from

Muslim sources". Yet "Bradwardine and his
Oxford colleagues did not quite make the breakthrough to modern
science" (Cantor 2001, p 122). The most essential missing tool was

algebra.

## See also

## Notes

## References

- Sylla, Edith (1999) "Oxford Calculators", in
*The Cambridge
Dictionary of Philosophy*.

## Further reading

- Sylla, Edith (1982) "The Oxford Calculators", in Kretzmann,
Kenny & Pinborg (edd.),
*The Cambridge History of Later
Medieval Philosophy*.
- Longeway, John (2003) " William Heytesbury", in
*The Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy*.