Life and the Elements

Euclid was one of the greatest and most influential Greek mathematicians. Little is known about his life thus his date and place of birth remain anonymous although a rough estimate suggests that he was mostly active somewhere around 300 BC. As producer of the ‘Elements’, his most prominent work, Euclid became the leading mathematician and teacher of all time. The book comprises of thirteen volumes of geometry books. Consisting of the most useful geometrical theory and mathematical proofs which have maintained their significance till the present day, this book also has information on the number theory, infinitude of prime numbers, Euclid’s lemma and theory of proportions.

The ‘Elements’ was translated in Arabic and Latin and published in 1482 although the English version was printed in 1570. Euclidean Geometry is the name given to his geometric principles. After the importance of ‘Elements’ was realized Euclid is often denoted to as ‘Father of Geometry’. His work was precise and logical and none of his contemporaries were able to derive conclusions like he did in the ‘Elements’. As the mathematician behind four of the major axioms and many substantial definitions, he is most defiantly a man with genius that has benefited even the present day mathematicians. His geometrical works have made way for modern mathematical theory and also indirectly facilitating the field of astronomy and engineering.

Other Works

Euclid has worked in many other areas of geometry such as in the book ‘Data’ where his plane geometry is mentioned. Another book ‘On Division’ also deals with Euclid’s ideas on plane geometry. ‘Phaenomena’ by Euclid would be the modern day ‘applied mathematics’ which concerns the geometry of spheres used mostly in astronomy. Other survived works include ‘Optics’ and ‘Porisms’. ‘Optics’ corrected the misconception of the time that the sun, moons and other heavenly bodies are the same size as they appear to the naked eye. Euclid did this by working out the relation between the eyes and the things seen by them. The work ‘Porisms’ is sometimes believed to be more advanced mathematics than the ‘Elements’. Porism is not like a theorem which is used to prove a theory but actually is used to highlight a feature of an already present theory.

‘Catoptrics’ dealt with the mathematical theory on mirrors. ‘Conics’ was about conic sections and ‘Surface Loci’ (set of points) is conjectured to be about quadric surfaces’. Other attributions by Euclid also include his works on mechanics the source being Arabic in nature. ‘On the Heavy and Light’ has 9 definitions and 5 propositions to its name with concepts of moving bodies and gravity whereas ‘On the Balance’ with 1 definition, 2 axioms, and 4 propositions talks about the lever theory in a somewhat Euclidian fashion. There exists a third piece of the hypothetical puzzle describing the movement of a lever and entailing 4 propositions. The manner in which these three works complement each other points out to the conclusion that these are in fact written by none other than Euclid.

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