Geometry by its history

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Historical Notes: The Golden Slope of French Geometry – A Celebration of Monge’s Life

That all right angles equal one another. That, if a straight line falling on two straight lines makes the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, the two straight lines, if produced indefinitely, meet on that side on which are the angles less than the two right angles.


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Euclid was not satisfied with the fifth postulate because of the difference between it and the other four. This is shown through the fact that the first 28 propositions in his book were proved without the use of the fifth postulate; however, from that point, Euclid went on to use it more extensively. Birkhoff — Descartes laid the stepping stones for modern mathematics, specifically in analytical geometry, through the Cartesian coordinate system.

As now commonly used, the Cartesian coordinate system gives every point in a plane two numbers that represent its distance from the horizontal and vertical axes. This new coordinate system helped to show that there was a link between geometry and algebra. He would start with a geometric idea and use the findings to create an algebraic equation to represent it. David Hilbert, a German mathematician, and George Birkhoff, an American mathematician, also formed different approaches to Euclidean Geometry. Birkhoff also worked on his own axioms that allowed mathematicians to use numeric values to represent the terms.

The metric and synthetic approaches clarified and corrected the flaws in Euclid's system. Proclus Diadochus — wrote a commentary on the Elements.


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He, like many others, attempted to prove the fifth postulate from the other axioms; however, he and others were unsuccessful. See Section 2.

History of Geometry | Wyzant Resources

Through a point not on a line there is exactly one line parallel to the given line. Another failed attempt to prove Euclid's Fifth Postulate came from Girolamo Saccheri — in Saccheri used a method in which he assumed the fifth postulate to be false in order to prove it from the other postulates by contradiction. As part of his everyday work, Monge was given the task of determining the height of a fortification which was being designed. Until then, there were two methods used for this problem. One involved choosing the most characteristic points on the terrain surrounding the fortification, and constructing the triangles determined by the viewpoint, the point of the edge of the fortification and the height of the wall sufficient to offer effective protection.

The other method was based on long calculations, with the height of each crucial point being measured directly on the terrain and noted on a plan. Monge had a different idea. His plan had two initial stages. Firstly, he chose a few of the highest points from the surrounding terrain. Through these, he drew tangents to the fortification adding sufficient height to the wall to protect the fortification from missiles.

He then used these tangent lines to generate a tangential surface to the terrain, being therefore able to reduce the length of the calculation process considerably [1]. The method, when first explained to his supervisors, and understood, was immediately ruled a military secret.


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From then on, Monge perfected his method but was unable to publish anything about it until a reform of the whole educational system took place during the Revolution. Monge was a revolutionary and hence not too popular in England at the time: his technique therefore did not have much success here, although one of his students, Claude Crozet, took it to the United States where it flourished and was taught for a century at West Point Military Academy [2].

In December of the same year, it opened its doors to its first students. During the summer of , another school had been founded by decree, with the aim of educating teachers for the new Republic. This book was therefore not written by Monge, but was narrated by him — which means that his most important contribution to mathematics and mathematics education nationally in France , and internationally especially in French-speaking regions , came literally from his mouth. And a wonderfully inspiring book it is.

He began his narration full of enthusiasm for the new order that he had helped to bring about:.

Euclid's Elements

In order to raise the French nation from the position of dependence on foreign industry, in which it has continued to the present time, it is necessary in the first place to direct national education towards an acquaintance with matters which demand exactness, a study which hitherto has been totally neglected; and to accustom the hands of our artificers to the handling of tools of all kinds, which serve to give precision to workmanship, and for estimating its different degrees of excellence.

Then the consumer, appreciating exactness, will be able to insist upon it in the various types of workmanship and to fix its proper price; and our craftsmen, accustomed to it from an early age, will be capable of attaining it [3, p. In most current popular explanations, descriptive geometry is portrayed as just one of the methods of graphical presentation of geometrical objects. But it is much more than that for those who understand its principles: descriptive geometry is a tool to gain and practise a visualisation of geometrical objects and processes. Monge argued that:. It is through numerous examples and through the use of the straight edge and compass in the classroom that one can acquire the habits of the constructions and can accustom oneself to the choice of the simplest and most elegant methods in each particular case.

What times what shall I take in order to get 9? Ancient Greeks practiced centuries of experimental geometry like Egypt and Babylonia had, and they absorbed the experimental geometry of both of those cultures. Then they created the first formal mathematics of any kind by organizing geometry with rules of logic.

Euclid's BC important geometry book The Elements formed the basis for most of the geometry studied in schools ever since. There are two main types of mathematical including geometric rules : postulates also called axioms , and theorems. Postulates are basic assumptions - rules that seem to be obvious and are therefore accepted without proof. Theorems are rules that must be proved. Euclid gave five postulates.

The fifth postulate reads: Given a line and a point not on the line, it is possible to draw exactly one line through the given point parallel to the line. Euclid was not satisfied with accepting the fifth postulate also known as the parallel postulate without proof.

Many mathematicians throughout the next centuries unsuccessfully attempted to prove Euclid's Fifth.