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Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed
to the Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria.
Euclid's Elements is the earliest known systematic
discussion of geometry. It has been one of the most
influential books in history, as much for its method as for
its mathematical content. The method consists of
assuming a small set of intuitively appealing axioms, and
then proving many other propositions (theorems) from
those axioms. Although many of Euclid's results had been
stated by earlier Greek mathematicians, Euclid was the
first to show how these propositions could be fit together
into a comprehensive deductive and logical system.The
Elements begin with plane geometry, still taught in
secondary school as the first axiomatic system and the
first examples of formal proof. The Elements goes on to
.Much of the Elements states results of what is
now called number theory, proved using
geometrical methods. For over two thousand years,
the adjective "Euclidean" was unnecessary because
no other sort of geometry had been conceived.
Euclid's axioms seemed so intuitively obvious that
any theorem proved from them was deemed true in
an absolute sense. Today, however, many other
self-consistent non-Euclidean geometries are
known, the first ones having been discovered in
the early 19th century. It also is no longer taken
for granted that Euclidean geometry describes
physical space. An implication of Einstein's theory
of general relativity is that Euclidean geometry is a
good approximation to the properties of physical
space only if the gravitational field is not too
Euclidean geometry is an axiomatic system, in which all
theorems ("true statements") are derived from a finite
number of axioms. Near the beginning of the first book of
the Elements, Euclid gives five postulates (axioms):
Any two points can be joined by a straight line.
Any straight line segment can be extended indefinitely in a
straight line.
Given any straight line segment, a circle can be drawn having
the segment as radius and one endpoint as center.
All right angles are congruent.
Parallel postulate. If two lines intersect a third in such a way
that the sum of the inner angles on one side is less than
two right angles, then the two lines inevitably must
intersect each other on that side if extended far enough.
A proof from Euclid's elements that, given a line segment, an
equilateral triangle exists that includes the segment as one
of its sides. The proof is by construction: an equilateral
triangle ΑΒΓ is made by drawing circles Δ and Ε centered
on the points Α and Β, and taking one intersection of the
circles as the third vertex of the triangle.
These axioms invoke the following concepts: point, straight line
segment and line, side of a line, circle with radius and center, right
angle, congruence, inner and right angles, sum. The following verbs
appear: join, extend, draw, intersect. The circle described in
postulate 3 is tacitly unique. Postulates 3 and 5 hold only for plane
geometry; in three dimensions, postulate 3 defines a sphere.
Postulate 5 leads to the same geometry as the following statement,
known as Playfair's axiom, which also holds only in the plane:
Through a point not on a given straight line, one and only one line
can be drawn that never meets the given line.
Postulates 1, 2, 3, and 5 assert the existence and uniqueness of
certain geometric figures, and these assertions are of a constructive
nature: that is, we are not only told that certain things exist, but are
also given methods for creating them with no more than a
compass and an unmarked straightedge. In this sense, Euclidean
geometry is more concrete than many modern axiomatic systems
such as set theory, which often assert the existence of objects
without saying how to construct them, or even assert the existence
of objects that cannot be constructed within the theory. Strictly
speaking, the constructs of lines on paper etc are models of the
objects defined within the formal system, rather than instances of
those objects. For example a Euclidean straight line has no width,
but any real drawn line will.The Elements also include the following
five "common notions":
Things that equal the same thing also equal one another.
If equals are added to equals, then the wholes are equal.
If equals are subtracted from equals, then the remainders are
Things that coincide with one another equal one another.
The whole is greater than the part. Euclid also invoked other
properties pertaining to magnitudes.
1 is the only part of the underlying logic that Euclid explicitly
articulated. 2 and 3 are "arithmetical" principles; note that
the meanings of "add" and "subtract" in this purely
geometric context are taken as given. 1 through 4
operationally define equality, which can also be taken as
part of the underlying logic or as an equivalence relation
requiring, like "coincide," careful prior definition. 5 is a
principle of mereology. "Whole", "part", and "remainder"
beg for precise definitions. In the 19th century, it was
realized that Euclid's ten axioms and common notions do
not suffice to prove all of theorems stated in the Elements.
For example, Euclid assumed implicitly that any line
contains at least two points, but this assumption cannot be
proved from the other axioms, and therefore needs to be
an axiom itself.
The very first geometric proof in the Elements, shown in the
figure on the right, is that any line segment is part of a
triangle; Euclid constructs this in the usual way, by drawing
circles around both endpoints and taking their intersection as
the third vertex. His axioms, however, do not guarantee that
the circles actually intersect, because they are consistent
with discrete, rather than continuous, space. Starting with
Moritz Pasch in 1882, many improved axiomatic systems for
geometry have been proposed, the best known being those of
Hilbert, George Birkhoff, and Tarski.To be fair to Euclid, the
first formal logic capable of supporting his geometry was that
of Frege's 1879 Begriffsschrift, little read until the 1950s. We
now see that Euclidean geometry should be embedded in
first-order logic with identity, a formal system first set out in
Hilbert and Wilhelm Ackermann's 1928
Principles of Theoretical Logic. Formal mereology began only
in 1916, with the work of Lesniewski and A. N. Whitehead.
Tarski and his students did major work on the
foundations of elementary geometry as recently as between
1959 and his death in 1983.
To the ancients, the parallel postulate seemed less obvious than the
others; verifying it physically would require us to inspect two lines
to check that they never intersected, even at some very distant
point, and this inspection could potentially take an infinite amount
of time.[1] Euclid himself seems to have considered it as being
qualitatively different from the others, as evidenced by the
organization of the Elements: the first 28 propositions he presents
are those that can be proved without it. Many geometers tried in
vain to prove the fifth postulate from the first four. By 1763 at least
28 different proofs had been published, but all were found to be
incorrect.[2] In fact the parallel postulate cannot be proved from the
other four: this was shown in the 19th century by the construction of
alternative (non-Euclidean) systems of geometry where the other
axioms are still true but the parallel postulate is replaced by a
conflicting axiom. One distinguishing aspect of these systems is that
the three angles of a triangle do not add to 180°: in
hyperbolic geometry the sum of the three angles is always less than
180° and can approach zero, while in elliptic geometry it is greater
than 180°. If the parallel postulate is dropped from the list of axioms
without replacement, the result is the more general geometry called
absolute geometry.

The development of analytic geometry provided an alternative method for

formalizing geometry. In this approach, a point is represented by its
Cartesian (x,y) coordinates, a line is represented by its equation, and so
on. In the 20th century, this fit into David Hilbert's program of reducing all
of mathematics to arithmetic, and then proving the consistency of
arithmetic using finitistic reasoning. In Euclid's original approach, the
Pythagorean theorem follows from Euclid's axioms. In the Cartesian
approach, the axioms are the axioms of algebra, and the equation
expressing the Pythagorean theorem is then a definition of one of the
terms in Euclid's axioms, which are now considered to be theorems. The
equation:defining the distance between two points P = (p,q) and Q = (r,s)
is then known as the Euclidean metric, and other metrics define
non-Euclidean geometries.
A disproof of Euclidean geometry as a description of physical space. In a
1919 test of the general theory of relativity, stars (marked with short
horizontal lines) were photographed during a solar eclipse. The rays of
starlight were bent by the Sun's gravity on their way to the earth. This is
interpreted as evidence in favor of Einstein's prediction that gravity would
cause deviations from Euclidean geometry.
Euclid believed that his axioms were self-evident statements about
physical reality. This led to deep philosophical difficulties in reconciling
the status of knowledge from observation as opposed to knowledge
gained by the action of thought and reasoning. A major investigation of
this area was conducted by Immanuel Kant in
The Critique of Pure Reason. However, Einstein's theory of
general relativity shows that the true geometry of spacetime is
non-Euclidean geometry. For example, if a triangle is constructed out of
three rays of light, then in general the interior angles do not add up to 180
degrees due to gravity. A relatively weak gravitational field, such as the
Earth's or the sun's, is represented by a metric that is approximately, but
not exactly, Euclidean. Until the 20th century, there was no technology
capable of detecting the deviations from Euclidean geometry, but Einstein
predicted that such deviations would exist.
They were later verified by observations such as the observation of the
slight bending of starlight by the Sun during a solar eclipse in 1919, and
non-Euclidean geometry is now, for example, an integral part of the
software that runs the GPS system. It is possible to object to the non-
Euclidean interpretation of general relativity on the grounds that light
rays might be improper physical models of Euclid's lines, or that relativity
could be rephrased so as to avoid the geometrical interpretations.
However, one of the consequences of Einstein's theory is that there is no
possible physical test that can do any better than a beam of light as a
model of geometry. Thus, the only logical possibilities are to accept
non-Euclidean geometry as physically real, or to reject the entire notion
of physical tests of the axioms of geometry, which can then be imagined
as a formal system without any intrinsic real-world meaning. Because of
the incompatibility of the Standard Model with general relativity, and
because of some recent empirical evidence against the former, both
theories are now under increased scrutiny, and many theories have been
proposed to replace or extend the former and, in many cases, the latter as
well. The disagreements between the two theories come from their claims
about space-time, and it is now accepted that physical geometry must
describe space-time rather than merely space.
While Euclidean geometry, the Standard Model and general relativity are all in
principle compatible with any number of spatial dimensions and any specification
as to which of these if any are compactified (see string theory), and while all but
Euclidean geometry (which does not distinguish space from time) insist on
exactly one temporal dimension, proposed alternatives, none of which are yet part
of scientific consensus, differ significantly in their predictions or lack thereof as
to these details of space-time. The disagreements between the conventional
physical theories concern whether space-time is Euclidean (since
quantum field theory in the standard model is built on the assumption that it is)
and on whether it is quantized. Few if any proposed alternatives deny that space-
time is quantized, with the quanta of length and time are respectively the
Planck length and the Planck time. However, which geometry to use - Euclidean,
Riemannian, de Stitter, anti de Stitter and some others - is a major point of
demarcation between them. Many physicists expect some Euclidean string theory
to eventually become the Theory Of Everything, but their view is by no means
unanimous, and in any case the future of this issue is unpredictable. Regarding
how if at all Euclidean geometry will be involved in future physics, what is
uncontroversial is that the definition of straight lines will still be in terms of the
path in a vacuum of electromagnetic radiation (including light) until gravity is
explained with mathematical consistency in terms of a phenomenon other than
space-time curvature, and that the test of geometrical postulates (Euclidean or
otherwise) will lie in studying how these paths are affected by phenomena. For
now, gravity is the only known relevant phenomenon, and its effect is
uncontroversial (see gravitational lensing
Apollonius and other Ancient Greek geometers made an extensive study
of the conic sections — curves created by intersecting a cone and a
plane. The non-degenerate ones are the ellipse, the parabola and the
hyperbola, distinguished by having zero, one, or two intersections with
infinity. This turned out to facilitate the work of Galileo, Kepler and
Newton in the 17th Century, as these curves accurately modeled the
movement of bodies under the influence of gravity. Using
Newton's law of universal gravitation, the orbit of a comet around the Sun
is an ellipse, if it is moving too slowly for its position (below
escape velocity), in which case it will eventually return; a parabola, if it is
moving with exact escape velocity (unlikely), and will never return
because the curve reaches to infinity; or a hyperbola, if it is moving fast
enough (above escape velocity), and likewise will never return. In each
case the Sun will be at one focus of the conic, and the motion will sweep
out equal areas in equal times. Galileo experimented with objects falling
small distances at the surface of the Earth, and empirically determined
that the distance travelled was proportional to the square of the time.
Given his timing and measuring apparatus, this was an excellent
approximation. Over such small distances that the acceleration of gravity
can be considered constant, and ignoring the effects of air (as on a falling
feather) and the rotation of the Earth, the trajectory of a projectile will be a
parabolic path. Later calculations of these paths for bodies moving under
gravity would be performed using the techniques of analytical geometry
(using coordinates and algebra) and differential calculus, which provide
straightforward proofs. Of course these techniques had not been
invented at the time that Galileo investigated the movement of falling
bodies. Once he found that bodies fall to the earth with constant
acceleration (within the accuracy of his methods), he proved that
projectiles will move in a parabolic path using the procedures of
Euclidean geometry. Similarly, Newton used quasi-Euclidean proofs to
demonstrate the derivation of Keplerian orbital movements from his laws
of motion and gravitation. Centuries later, one of the first experimental
measurements to support Einstein's general theory of relativity, which
postulated a non-Euclidean geometry for space, was the orbit of the
planet Mercury. Kepler described the orbit as a perfect ellipse. Newtonian
theory predicted that the gravitational influence of other bodies would
give a more complicated orbit. But eventually all such Newtonian
corrections fell short of experimental results; a small perturbation
remained. Einstein postulated that the bending of space would precisely
Euclidean geometry is a first-order theory. That is, it allows statements
such as those that begin as "for all triangles ...", but it is incapable of
forming statements such as "for all sets of triangles ...". Statements of the
latter type are deemed to be outside the scope of the theory. We owe
much of our present understanding of the properties of the logical and
metamathematical properties of Euclidean geometry to the work of Alfred
Tarski and his students, beginning in the 1920s. Tarski proved his
axiomatic formulation of Euclidean geometry to be complete in a certain
sense: there is an algorithm which, for every proposition, can show it to
be either true or false. Gödel's incompleteness theorems showed the
futility of Hilbert's program of proving the consistency of all of
mathematics using finitistic reasoning. Tarski's findings do not violate
Gödel's theorem, because Euclidean geometry cannot describe a
sufficient amount of arithmetic for the theorem to apply.[3]Although
complete in the formal sense used in modern logic, there are things that
Euclidean geometry cannot accomplish. For example, the problem of
trisecting an angle with a compass and straightedge is one that naturally
occurs within the theory, since the axioms refer to constructive
operations that can be carried out with those tools
However, centuries of efforts failed to find a solution to this problem, until
Pierre Wantzel published a proof in 1837 that such a construction was
impossible. Absolute geometry, first identified by Bolyai, is Euclidean
geometry weakened by omission of the fifth postulate, that parallel lines
do not meet. Of strength intermediate between absolute geometry and
Euclidean are geometries derived from Euclid's by alterations of the
parallel postulate that can be shown to be consistent by exhibiting
models of them. For example, geometry on the surface of a sphere is a
model of elliptical geometry. Another weakening of Euclidean geometry is
affine geometry, first identified by Euler, which retains the fifth postulate
unmodified while weakening postulates three and four in a way that
eliminates the notions of angle (whence right triangles become
meaningless) and of equality of length of line segments in general
(whence circles become meaningless) while retaining the notions of
parallelism as an equivalence relation between lines, and equality of
length of parallel line segments (so line segments continue to have a