They teach further the solution of problems leading to equations of the first and second degree, to determinate and indeterminate equations, not by single and double position only, but by real algebra, proved by means of geometric constructions, and including the use of letters as symbols for known numbers, the unknown quantity being called res and its square census.
In the Flos equations with negative values of the unknown quantity are also to be met with, and Leonardo perfectly understands the meaning of these negative solutions.
The distinction between algebraical and arithmetical reasoning then lies mainly in the fact that the former is in a more condensed form than the latter; an unknown quantity being represented by a special symbol, and other symbols being used as a kind of shorthand for verbal expressions.
The principles of arithmetical transformation follow from those stated in ï¿½ï¿½ 15-18 by replacing X, A, B, m, M, x, n, a and p by any expressions involving or not involving the unknown quantity or number and representing positive numbers or (in the case of X, A, B and M) positive quantities.
We therefore represent them by separate symbols, in the same way that we represent the unknown quantity in an equation by a symbol.