William Oughtred

English mathematician and Anglican minister (1574–1660)

William Oughtred [1] 5 March 1574 – 30 June 1660) was an English mathematician and Anglican clergyman.

William Oughtred
William Oughtred (1574-1660). Engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar.
Born(1574-03-05)5 March 1574
Died30 June 1660(1660-06-30) (aged 86)
EducationEton College
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge
Known forSlide rule
multiplication "×" sign
Scientific career
InstitutionsKing's College, Cambridge
Notable studentsJohn Wallis
Christopher Wren
Richard Delamain
Seth Ward

John Napier invented logarithms and Edmund Gunter created the logarithmic scales.[2] Oughtred was the first to use two such scales. He slid one next to another to do direct multiplication and division. He is credited with inventing the slide rule in about 1622.[3]

He also introduced the "×" multiplication sign and the abbreviations "sin" and "cos" for the sine and cosine functions.[4]


  1. pronounced 'OWTred': David Eugene Smith 1923. History of Mathematics p392
  2. lines, or rules, on which slide rules are based.
  3. Smith, David E. (1958). History of mathematics. Courier Corporation. p. 205. ISBN 9780486204307.
  4. Cajori, Florian (1919). A history of mathematics. Macmillan.