Euclid Essay, Research Paper

Euclid is considered one of, if not, the best mathematician there is, there was, and ever will be. He led a simple life as a mathematician, collecting works from others and studying them to come up with his own ideas. This essay will explain his life, death, and his teachings. It also contains information of one of the most famous mathematics books in history, The Elements.

Euclid, “The most prominent mathematician of antiquity”(Euclid of Alexandria) lived in Alexandria, Egypt was born around 325 B.C. He never moved from Alexandria, he traveled, but he never lived any other place besides Alexandria. There is another written document that states that Euclid was born in Megara. But this Euclid was born about 100 years before Euclid of Alexandria. Also, some authors have written that he was born in Tyre. That has been proven to be totally not true. Some scholars have also came up with the idea that Euclid might even be of Greek descent. His death was recorded around 256 B.C, in Alexandria. His followers and members of his research group kept writing books under his name even after he was dead. This, to me shows 2 things. First, you can’t publish a book unless you are a famous and well-known person back then, and second, his followers really wanted his legacy to continue for many more years to come. Euclid attended the University of Plato in Athens. After that, he became a teacher at the University of Alexandria, that he started himself around 320BC, soon after to be named the Museum of Alexandria. Euclid has inspired many other mathematicians to start a career in the field of mathematics. His works and theories have led to other discoveries and thoughts of others based on his ideas. Most of his works are the basis of many mathematics programs in public schools today.

He is considered the father of modern geometry. His areas of math ranged from geometry, algebra, number theories, irrational numbers, and solid geometry. Then, after he was done teaching, he wrote his best work, The Elements, which is “one of the most beautiful and influential works of science in the history of mankind.” (Joyce, Elements, Intro. 1996-8) It was based on the works of mathematicians that came before him, who he had much respect for, and his own thoughts and theories. Some of these mathematicians included Hippocrates, Pythagorus, and Menaechmus. The Elements consists of thirteen books, all written by Euclid and based on methods and beliefs before him. Books 1-6 are all on focused on plane geometry, books 7-9 consist of number theories, and book 10 deals with Exodus’s theory of irrational numbers, and books 11-13 deal with solid geometry. It is “remarkable for the clarity with which the theorems and problems aer selected and ordered” (Albaugh, 1972). There have been more than 1000 editions of this book published since the date of it’s original, 1482. The book starts with a collection of terms, definitions of words included in the books, and “the solutions to questions that many scholars have been trying to figure out for their whole lives.”(Euclid, 1999 Grolier Inc.) The theories of geometry and numbers are still used today for the core basic of math in schools today. He was also known to have made up his own theories, but most of them were based on the works of his predecessors. “All those who have written histories bring to this point their account of the development of this science. Not long after these men came Euclid, who brought together the Elements, systematizing many of the theorems of Eudoxus, perfecting many of those of Theatetus, and putting in irrefutable demonstrable form propositions that had been rather loosely established by his predecessors. He lived in the time of Ptolemy the First, for Archimedes, who lived after the time of the first Ptolemy, mentions Euclid. It is also reported that Ptolemy once asked Euclid if there was not a shorter road to geometry that through the Elements, and Euclid replied that there was no royal road to geometry. He was therefore later than Plato’s group but earlier than Eratosthenes and Archimedes, for these two men were contemporaries, as Eratosthenes somewhere says. Euclid belonged to the persuasion of Plato and was at home in this philosophy; and this is why he thought the goal of the Elements as a whole to be the construction of the so-called Platonic figures.” (Proclus, ed. Friedlein, p. 68, tr. Morrow). The 10th book appears to be the longest of them all. From the beginning, Euclid’s fifth postulate, also called the parallel postulate, stood out from among its brethren. The first four postulates are short, brief, and to the point, whereas the fifth is longer and rather strange sounding. The postulates are listed in The Elements as such:

? 1. To draw a straight line from any point to another.

? 2. To produce a finite straight line continuosly in a straight line.

? 3. To describe a circle with any centre and distance.

? 4. That all right angles are equal to each other.

? 5. That, if a straight line falling on two straight lines make the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, if produced infinitely, meet on that side on which are the angles less than the two right angles (Heath, Thomas ,1926).

Based on this essay, I believe that it is plain to see that the famous mathematician, Euclid, 325 BC- 265 BC, is one of the most influencial and inspiring mathematicians in our world today. The Elements, one of his most famous books that are based on other mathematicians, including his own ideas. The contents of this book are still used in schools today. Some of Euclid’s other works include Data, On Divisions of Figures, Phaenomina, Optics, Surface Loci, Porisms, Conics, Book of Fallacies, and Elements of Muic. Only the first four of his other books survived till this day. The rest were either lost, burned, or stolen by thieves. He was completely devoted to his studies and he never really did anything else with his life. He had no wife and no kids and only worked on his theories.

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