Euclid

Euclid

[yoo-klid]
Euclid, fl. 300 B.C., Greek mathematician. Little is known of his life other than the fact that he taught at Alexandria, being associated with the school that grew up there in the late 4th cent. B.C. He is famous for his Elements, a presentation in thirteen books of the geometry and other mathematics known in his day. The first six books cover elementary plane geometry and have served since as the basis for most beginning courses on this subject. The other books of the Elements treat the theory of numbers and certain problems in arithmetic (on a geometric basis) and solid geometry, including the five regular polyhedra, or Platonic solids. The great contribution of Euclid was his use of a deductive system for the presentation of mathematics. Primary terms, such as point and line, are defined; unproved assumptions, or postulates, regarding these terms are stated; and a series of statements are then deduced logically from the definitions and postulates. Although Euclid's system no longer satisfies modern requirements of logical rigor, its importance in influencing the direction and method of the development of mathematics is undisputed. One consequence of the critical examination of Euclid's system was the discovery in the early 19th cent. that his fifth postulate, equivalent to the statement that one and only one line parallel to a given line can be drawn through a point external to the line, can not be proved from the other postulates; on the contrary, by substituting a different postulate for this parallel postulate two different self-consistent forms of non-Euclidean geometry were deduced, one by Nikolai I. Lobachevsky (1826) and independently by János Bolyai (1832) and another by Bernhard Riemann (1854). A few modern historians have questioned Euclid's authorship of the Elements, but he is definitely known to have written other works, most notably the Optics.
Euclid, city (1990 pop. 54,875), Cuyahoga co., NE Ohio, a suburb adjoining Cleveland, on Lake Erie; settled 1798, inc. 1848. Named for the famous Greek mathematician, the industrial city manufactures metal goods, electrical supplies and equipment, airplane and automobile parts, and machinery. The National American Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is there.

(flourished circa 300 BC, Alexandria, Egypt) Greek mathematician of antiquity, known primarily for his highly influential treatise on geometry, the Elements. He founded a school in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I. Little is known of his life, but there are many anecdotes. In the most famous, asked by Ptolemy if there is a shorter way to geometry than through his Elements, Euclid replies, “There is no royal road to geometry.” The Elements, based on the works of earlier mathematicians, is a brilliant synthesis of old and new. It has been a major influence on rational thought and a model for many philosophical treatises, and it has set a standard for logical thinking and methods of proof in the sciences. The starting point not just of Euclidean geometry but of an approach to reasoning, it is sometimes said to be the most translated, published, and studied work after the Bible.

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