 
Summary: The Problem
of Malfatti: Two
Centuries of Debate
MARCO ANDREATTA, ANDRA“S BEZDEK AND JAN P. BORON“SKI
GG
ianfrancesco Malfatti (Figure 1) was a brilliant
Italian mathematician born in 1731 in a small
village in the Italian Alps, Ala, near Trento. He first
studied at a Jesuit school in Verona, then at the University
of Bologna. Malfatti was one of the founders of the
Department of Mathematics of the University of Ferrara. He
died in Ferrara in 1807.
As a very active intellectual in the Age of Enlightenment,
he devoted himself to the promotion of many new ideas
and wrote many papers in different fields of mathematics
including algebra, calculus, geometry, and probability
theory. He played an important role in the creation of the
Nuova Enciclopedia Italiana (1779), in the spirit of the
French Encyclope“die edited by Diderot and d'Alembert.
His mathematical papers were collected by the Italian
