The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-year History

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Princeton University Press, 2007 - Mathematics - 259 pages
2 Reviews

By any measure, the Pythagorean theorem is the most famous statement in all of mathematics, one remembered from high school geometry class by even the most math-phobic students. Well over four hundred proofs are known to exist, including ones by a twelve-year-old Einstein, a young blind girl, Leonardo da Vinci, and a future president of the United States. Here--perhaps for the first time in English--is the full story of this famous theorem.


Although attributed to Pythagoras, the theorem was known to the Babylonians more than a thousand years before him. He may have been the first to prove it, but his proof--if indeed he had one--is lost to us. Euclid immortalized it as Proposition 47 in his Elements, and it is from there that it has passed down to generations of students. The theorem is central to almost every branch of science, pure or applied. It has even been proposed as a means to communicate with extraterrestrial beings, if and when we discover them. And, expanded to four-dimensional space-time, it plays a pivotal role in Einstein's theory of relativity.


In this book, Eli Maor brings to life many of the characters that played a role in the development of the Pythagorean theorem, providing a fascinating backdrop to perhaps our oldest enduring mathematical legacy.


 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

Interesting selection of math topics surrounding "a squared plus b squared equals c squared." Not equation-phobic, nor even calculus-phobic, yet pretty undemanding. *Badly* marred by the overleaf placement of figures. Read full review

The Pythagorean theorem: a 4, 000-year history

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Maor, an author and Loyola University math history instructor, has crafted a charming tour through math history, introducing the many ways that the Pythagorean Theorem (in a right triangle, the sum of ... Read full review

Contents

IV
4
V
13
VI
17
VII
32
VIII
45
IX
50
X
57
XI
76
XXIV
177
XXV
181
XXVI
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XXVII
197
XXVIII
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XXIX
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XXX
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XXXI
219

XII
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XIII
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XIV
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XV
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XVI
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XVII
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XVIII
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XIX
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XXI
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XXII
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XXIII
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XXXII
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XXXIII
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XXXIV
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XXXV
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XXXVI
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XXXVII
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XXXVIII
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XXXIX
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XL
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XLI
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XLII
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About the author (2007)

Eli Maor is a teacher of the history of mathematics who has successfully popularized his subject with the general public through a series of informative and entertaining books. In "E: The Story of a Number," Maor uses anecdotes, excursions and essays to illustrate that number's importance to mathematics. "Trigonometric Delights" brings trigonometry to life by blending history, biography, scientific curiosities and mathematics to achieve the goal of showing how trigonometry has contributed to both science and social development. "To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite" explores the idea of infinity in mathematics and art through the use of the illustrations of the Dutch artist M.C. Escher. Eli Maor's readable books have made the world of numbers accessible even to those with little or no background in mathematics.

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