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Hyperbolic Geometry

Hyperbolic Geometry



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Published by tiffanychoi1

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Published by: tiffanychoi1 on Oct 25, 2008
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Hyperbolic Geometry 1Hyperbolic GeometryTiffany ChoiStuyvesant High School
Hyperbolic Geometry 2Throughout elementary school, my math teachers forced me to memorize facts such asthe three angles of a triangle adding up to 180
. I also learned about Euclid’s fifth postulate,which states that through a given line and a point not on that line, one and only one line can bedrawn through that point parallel to the given line. However, after opening up a geometry book, Irealized that my perception of mathematics was not complete. I discovered a new topic that Inever came across before, and that was the topic Non-Euclidean geometry. In hyperbolicgeometry, a type of Non-Euclidean geometry, the sum of the interior angles of a triangle canequal 170
. Infinite parallel lines exist, because they never intersect. Hyperbolic geometry is onetopic in non-Euclidean geometry that provides an interesting and new perspective of looking atgeometry.When Non-Euclidean geometry was initially introduced, many people refuted these newideas. The first person to be condemned for this wistful thinking was the Russian mathematician Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (1792-1856), sometimes called “the Copernicus of Geometry.”He worked to show that geometries can vastly differ from that of Euclid’s, since he was perplexed with Euclid’s fifth postulate. The fifth postulate or the parallel postulate states,If a transversal (line) falls on two lines in such a way that the interior angles on one sideof the transversal are less than two right angles, then the lines meet on that side on whichthe angles are less than two right angles.Many mathematicians tried to show that this postulate was correct; however, it has alwaysresulted in failures. When mathematicians took a closer look, they discovered that each one othose proofs required that the fifth postulate to be true in order to be proved. Logically, thesewere not considered proofs because one cannot prove a statement true while using the statementitself to prove the proof. In order to understand Lobachevsky’s idea, we need to rephrase the fifth postulate as follows:
Hyperbolic Geometry 3Given a line,
, and a point,
, not on
, it is possible to construct exactly one line that passes through
and is parallel to
.Lobachesky wrote an alternative solution to the fifth postulate,which goes as follows:Given a line,
, and a point,
, not on
, there exist atleast two straight lines passing through
and parallel to
.This alternative postulate is shown in Figure 1. As you can see, line 1 and line 2 do not intersectline
, so they are both parallel with line
. This marked the beginning of non-Euclidean geometry.In hyperbolic geometry, the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is always less than180
. This geometry is not mathematically incorrect, because the hyperbolic triangle is viewedupon from a different perspective. In hyperbolic geometry,the infinite plane is curved. In this case, the originally straightlines are curved. Therefore, the sum of the interior angles in atriangle is less than 180
. The amount less than 180
is calledthe defect. In hyperbolic geometry, every triangle has a positive defect. However, in Euclidean geometry, everytriangle has a defect of zero. The angle sum does not have adefined number of degrees for each hyperbolic triangle, so allthe angles have different measures. Figure 2 is an example of a hyperbolic triangle. There aretwo major differences between hyperbolic triangles and Euclidean triangles. One distinction iswhile the sides of hyperbolic triangles approach the end of the plane, the angle sum of anytriangle gets lesser and lesser than 180
. The second is that there is no such thing as similar triangles. If two triangles have the same angles, then they are congruent. Since this is true, in1794, Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) discovered the formula for the hyperbolic triangle:
Figure 1 Lobachevsky’s alternativeto the fifth postulate.Figure 2 Hyperbolic Triangle.

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