Books by Euclid
Books about Euclid

Biography: Euclid

Euclid was born about 365 BC in Alexandria, Egypt, and he died about 300 BC. Euclid is the most prominent mathematician of antiquity best known for his treatise on geometry The Elements . The long lasting nature ofThe Elements must make Euclid the leading mathematics teacher of all time. Little is known of Euclid's life except that he taught at Alexandria in Egypt.

Euclid's most famous work is his treatise on geometry The Elements . The book was a compilation of geometrical knowledge that became the centre of mathematical teaching for 2000 years. Probably no results in The Elements were first proved by Euclid but the organisation of the material and its exposition are certainly due to him.

The Elements begins with definitions and axioms, including the famous fifth, or parallel, postulate that one and only one line can be drawn through a point parallel to a given line. Euclid's decision to make this an axiom led to Euclidean geometry. It was not until the 19th century that this axiom was dropped and non-euclidean geometries were studied.

Zeno of Sidon, about 250 years after Euclid wrote the Elements , seems to have been the first to show that Euclid's propositions were not deduced from the axioms alone, and Euclid does make other subtle assumptions.

The Elements is divided into 13 books. Books 1-6, plane geometry: books 7-9, number theory: book 10, Eudoxus's theory of irrational numbers: books 11-13, solid geometry. The book ends with a discussion of the properties of the five regular polyhedra and a proof that there are precisely five. Euclid's Elements is remarkable for the clarity with which the theorems are stated and proved. The standard of rigour was to become a goal for the inventors of the calculus centuries later.

More than one thousand editions ofThe Elements have been published since it was first printed in 1482.

Euclid also wrote Data (with 94 propositions), On Divisions ,Optics and Phaenomena which have survived. His other books Surface Loci , Porisms , Conics , Book of Fallacies and Elements of Music have all been lost.

Euclid may not have been a first class mathematician but the long lasting nature ofThe Elements must make him the leading mathematics teacher of antiquity.

The picture of Euclid above is from the 18th Century and must be regarded as entirely fanciful.



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