Basel: Thurnheysen, 1713. 4to. [iv], 306, 35,  pp. FIRST EDITION. With 2 folding charts, 1 folding plate and errata. Contemporary paper over thin boards, marbled paper spine; an excellent uncut copy with wide margins, library stamp on title and some minor browning. Item #15941
First edition of a milestone in the history of mathematics. Although left unfinished, it affords abundant evidence of the ability of one of history’s greatest mathematicians. Especially notable is the theorem which “places the theory of probability in a more commanding position than it had hitherto occupied” (Todhunter). Bernouilli here uses the terms a priori and a posteriori to distinguish two ways of deriving probabilities: deduction without experience (a priori) is possible with some devices such as dice but otherwise it is possible to make a deduction from various observed results of similar events. At the end we find the epistle Lettre a’ un ami, dur le parties du Jeau de Paume where the probability calculation is applied to one of the most significant cultural and social phenomenon in Renaissance, the sports game of jeu de paume. “It is still the foundation of much modern practice in all fields where probability is concerned -- insurance, statistics and mathematical heredity tables” (PMM).
Jakob Bernoulli (1654-1705) was the eldest in a family of celebrated mathematicians. He occupied the chair in mathematics at the University of Basel until his death.