Problem 2


To find the side of a square equal in area in any given superficies whatever.


Initially, the statement of the problem is vague. Without reading the notebook further, the first thing I did was to look up in the Oxford English Dictionary what “superficies” means. It turns out to be, with respect to geometry, “a continuous extent having only two dimensions (length and breadth, without thickness).” The question becomes perfectly clear when Macdonald finally turns his problem into a numerical one. Later under this problem he writes, “If the area of a circle be  what is the side of a square equal in area thereto?”




 or  to three decimal places.