Texts/Plea For Euclid Italian translation is by Marco Brizzi.
By Bernard Cache Of course, we cannot affirm that space exists as such, nor can we affirm anything of its substance. Some would even deny that things exist, and maintain that perceptions are just mental events. Nevertheless, we know that there are differences in our perception. A diversity of things are thought before we even think of ourselves as the subject of that thinking. The Leibnizian cogitata comes prior to the Cartesian cogito. And, following Kant, space is the form according to which we organize variations in what occurs to us simultaneously, just as time is the form according to which we organize variations in what occurs to us in succession. Kant thought that Euclidean geometry was the ultimate organization of this form of intuition we call space. But some twenty years after Kant died in 1804, several mathematicians working independently, including: Gauss, Bolyai and Lobachevsky - discovered that we can think of other geometries. These non-euclidean geometries were based on counter-intuitive assumptions and at first were thought of as nothing but a mathematician's game. But less than a hundred years later, Einstein found that in his theory of general relativity, space was better described by using a complex variant of Lobachevsky's geometry. And as this theory of relativity was given very precise experimental validation, non-euclidean geometry proved its relevance and could no longer appear as an exotic logic... So what are the consequences of this evolution of mathematics for architects? Do we have to banish the five Euclidean postulates as an outdated heritage from the Greeks, not unlike the Moderns dismissed the five orders of architecture? By the way, the Moderns already made allusion to other geometries but with very little tangible results. And nowadays, in our digital age, does the computer compels us to think and live in a multidimensional, nonEuclidean, topological space? Or shouldn't we instead consider the computer as a variable compass, which will open new potentialities within the old Euclidean space? These questions require that we investigate in close detail what happened to geometry, and their answer is all the more important in as much as geometry still remains the very basic tool of architecture. continued [ in English and Italizn translations] http://architettura.supereva.it/extended/19990501/index_en.htm published by Arch'it and ANY Review. ABA-NET © 2003-04 Anand (site root) home | Index | Search Bhatt, Architect. @ Arch'it: Extended Play
This certainly makes Euclidean geometry one the oldest works of science. and their answer is all the more important in as much as geometry still remains the very basic tool of architecture. not unlike the Moderns dismissed the five orders of architecture? By the way. it is a description of space both as a form of intuition and physical phenomena. Concerning computers. including: Gauss. bearing witness to the multiple origins of geometry of which Michel Serres reminds us (1). in our digital age. minds and the laws of physics Penrose argues that Euclidean geometry comes first in the list of the very few theories which deserve the label "superb" for their phenomenal accuracy.discovered that we can think of other geometries..Plea for Euclid Of course. On the one hand. Many of the theorems he used where known much before his time. and maintain that perceptions are just mental events. even by those who cannot be suspected of orthodoxy. The dismissal of Euclidean geometry by architects sounds rather surprising when one notices how appreciated it is by contemporary scientists.
So what are the consequences of this evolution of mathematics for architects? Do we have to banish the five Euclidean postulates as an outdated heritage from the Greeks. The Leibnizian cogitata comes prior to the Cartesian cogito. nor can we affirm anything of its substance. space was better described by using a complex variant of Lobachevsky's geometry. Nevertheless. In fact Euclid's work has two faces. And as this theory of relativity was given very precise experimental validation.
. But less than a hundred years later.. non-Euclidean. which will open new potentialities within the old Euclidean space? These questions require that we investigate in close detail what happened to geometry. Euclid wrote his Thirteen books of Geometry some 300 years before Vitruvius composed his own Ten Books of architecture at the turn of the first millenium. space is the form according to which we organize variations in what occurs to us simultaneously. on the other hand. who the Greeks always held in great respect. In his book: The emperor's new mind. And. does the computer compels us to think and live in a multidimensional. following Kant. Some would even deny that things exist. Kant thought that Euclidean geometry was the ultimate organization of this form of intuition we call space. So let us start with the physical face of geometry. Bolyai and Lobachevsky . A diversity of things are thought before we even think of ourselves as the subject of that thinking. Einstein found that in his theory of general relativity. was to systematize a corpus of what before him remained a collection of isolated theoretical demonstrations and practical solutions. we cannot affirm that space exists as such. topological space? Or shouldn't we instead consider the computer as a variable compass. And moreover Euclid didn't start from scratch. by the Egyptians in particular. But some twenty years after Kant died in 1804. the Elements are a first attempt to link together abstract logic and sensual experience. several mathematicians working independently. just as time is the form according to which we organize variations in what occurs to us in succession. What Euclid did. non-euclidean geometry proved its relevance and could no longer appear as an exotic logic. it constitutes one of the first major work of logic. And nowadays. such as Roger Penrose. As such. both axiomatic container and physical content. we know that there are differences in our perception. the Moderns already made allusion to other geometries but with very little tangible results. what was profoundly original. Hence the double evaluation required by the Elements of geometry. These non-euclidean geometries were based on counter-intuitive assumptions and at first were thought of as nothing but a mathematician's game.
the postponed use of the fifth postulate led commentators to think that it was not really necessary. the very limited impact of Einstein's theory on technology.To draw a straight line from any point to any point. as they have been confronted over the course of the history of mathematics. The 23 definitions introduce terms which range from: the "point" as that which has no part. or prove it to be a consequence of the first four postulates. postulates and common notions will each create their own problems that we will analyse chronologically.That all right angles are equal to one another.That. starting with the postulates. was conscious that geometry was a matter of choice.To produce a finite straight line continuously in a straight line. The first four postulates were easily accepted as the propositions that enable one to construct figures and conduct demonstrations with a ruler and a compass (2). meet on that side on which the angles are less than two right angles. to: the "parallel" as coplanar straight lines which never meet. with the physics and experimental accuracy of his time. "over a meter's range. Certainly.
. when it comes to the other aspect of the Elements.e not Euclidean) in the presence of a gravitational field. As those familiar with the difficulties created at a building site by the 1/10 millimeter accuracy of numerically controlled components surely know. but we still have a way to go before trespassing the boundaries of Euclid's description. which form the basis of all of his theorems or propositions. Euclid introduces some common notions of arithmetic and logic like: "Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another" or "The whole is greater than the part". one perceives this curvature only in the case of bodies moving at speeds close to that of the light. Euclidean geometry is a more than sufficient approximation of architectural space.D. Euclid started by three types of propositions: successively Definitions. errors in treating the geometry as Euclidean amounting to less than the diameter of an atom of hydrogen!". following the more logico rather than the more geometrico.e. Lobachevsky concluded that Euclidean geometry was the best model of space.To describe a circle with any center and distance. i. but generally. if a straight line falling on two straight lines makes the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles.D. Now. Nevertheless. And then. the fact is that Lobachevsky himself undertook to submit geometry to experimental verification. who had plainly assumed the consequences of non-Euclidean geometry. What puzzled even the earliest commentators is the fact that Euclid himself seemed to shun his fifth postulate since he made no use of it in the first 28 propositions. if produced indefinitely. By which we see that our trivial intuition is rather well suited to what we experimentaly build up as a reality of space.) already mentioned Ptolemy's attempt at emendation (second century A. As Einstein put it : "What is incomprehensible is that the world is comprehensible". 5. On the other hand.). Funnily enough. 3. These definitions are followed by the famous five postulates: 1. our experience is that free curvature surfaces in architecture require rigorous accuracy. things become a bit more complex and require that we look at the organization of the work. that one could either get rid of it. Hence. deviation from Euclidean flatness are tiny indeed. Postulates and Common Notions.Einstein's theory certainly teaches us that space(-time) is actually "curved" (i. the two straight lines. 2. Normally. definitions. In fact. Proclus (fifth century A. 4. He. where intuition had nothing to dictate to logic. and proposed his own method.
a Scottish physicist and mathematician (1748-1819). : to find intuitive models which would suit their logic. To do so. the most promising of which being that of Playfair. it is worth noticing that. Once this absolute geometry is assumed. but he actually demonstrated many theorems of what we now know as non-Euclidean geometry. all attempts proved unsuccessful until an Italian Jesuit Priest. who reformulated it as the Parallel Postulate: "through a given point P there is a unique line parallel to a given line". not only did Saccheri not find any logical contradiction. As for the other geometries. one would have to jettison the usual signification of terms like: "point". or. each of whom had proved the independence of the Parallel Postulate in 1823. Geometry became axiomatic. Girolamo Saccheri published in 1733 a little book with the title Euclides ab omni naevo vindicatus (Euclid Freed of Every Flaw).But for more than two thousand years. but Gauss didn't dare to publish his discovery fearing the criticism that could be brought on by such a counter-intuitive result. Hilbert based his system on 21 axioms. However the geometrical consequences of what he established were so unexpected and so different from general intuition that he felt entitled to conclude that he had come upon propositions "at odds with the nature of the straight line". The three of them demonstrated that no logical contradiction would arise with the other four postulates. In fact. the German Gauss had preceded the Russian Lobachevsky and the Hungarian Bolyai. the number "five" establishing a continuity with Euclid's work. Primary terms are indefinable. which opens the doors to Lobachevsky's "hyperbolic geometry". Far from providing an intuitive support to the logical demonstrations. It is under this new form that several mathematicians. published in 1899. By 1763. What becomes apparent is that the problem then moves from the postulates to the definitions. The four postulates constitute what is called the "absolute geometry" after which geometry bifurcates. The first group. In so doing. "line" or "plane". Spatial intuition would just have to adapt to each case. Meanwhile. It was certainly no longer the only geometry. This will be the great achievement of Hilbert in his Grundlagen der Geometrie. you can state that there are no parallels which lead to the " elliptic geometry " of Riemann. i. mathematicians actually consolidated the basis of Euclidean geometry. the concepts of points. will sort out the problem of the fifth postulate. the meaning of primary terms like points or lines is deduced from the system in which they are used. the problem would be the opposite. finally. working independently at about the same time. and in the spherical model of elliptic geometry "points" are pairs of diametrically opposed points. you have three options: you can stay within Euclidean geometry and assume that the number of parallels is only one.e. one will find that the proposition: "two distinct points determine a
. lines and planes. in so doing. whatever the number of parallels to a given line are assumed to pass through a given point. Hence the necessity of tracking every remaining spatial intuition in the Elements of Euclid. just as postulates are undemonstrable. you can postulate that there is more than one parallel. The main result of these investigation had been to produce equivalent forms of the fifth postulate. but they had proved that the fifth postulate was not only necessary but essential in making the logic of Euclid coincide with general intuition. For instance. trying to demonstrate that the negation of this unfortunate postulate would lead to contradiction. rather than the definitions of. up to twenty-eight different attempts to solve the fifth postulate problem were listed and criticized by Klugel. For instance in Poincaré's model of hyperbolic geometry "lines" become arcs of circle. Saccheri used his earlier work in logic to undertake a reductio ab absurdum. which he organized into five groups. Saccheri was so anxious to vindicate Euclid that he took these unexpected geometrical results for the logical contradiction he was looking for. projective geometry is composed of 8 axioms which establish the relations between.
Jan Hessel de Groot. Euclid's work must be recognized as the most structured geometry. This group of movements defines what is called: "metric geometry". Thus. the last group is made up of the two axioms of continuity. when it comes to the suppression of axioms. the negation of the uniqueness of the parallel postulated in the fourth group generates non-Euclidean geometries. Klein would go so far as to define the various geometries by the group of transformations which leaves invariant certain properties of geometrical figures. congruence. if we forget the distances and concentrate on the "shape" of the figures defined by the angles between elements. Paris. provide a tool that can be used to maintain unity in ornamental composition. Cf: Il progetto dell'ornamento. (2) As concern architects and designers. demonstrate the simple way that forms take form. From this perspective again. topology. 2.
At about the same time non-Euclidean geometry was discovered. And this is easier to understand when we look at geometry from another angle. The other geometries can be generated either by the negation or the suppression of one or several of these 21 axioms. 1993. can be converted in the converse relation "two distinct lines determine a unique point". including the one known as the axiom of Archimedes.
(1) Cf Michel Serres: Les origines de la géométrie. in "Casabella". pp. which is the famous parallel postulate. Combinations of these 21 independent and consistent axioms enable one to generate many geometries. he exposes his aim as to: 1. rotation and symmetry form a first group of transformation. 64-73. translation.unique line". Topology. In Dreihoeken bij Ontwerpen van Ornament (Ornamental Design by triangles). the group of movements which transform geometrical figures without affecting distances nor angles in these figures. gathers the four axioms of "order" establishing the meaning of "between". we come upon a new transformation
. it is very interesting to notice the logical and geometrical approach of ornament by Jan Hessel de Groot who imposed himself the restriction to generate figures and ornamental motifs only by 45° and 60° set-squares. is based on an even more restricted number of axioms. Thus Frederic Klein has shown that projective geometry is independent of the Parallel Postulate. But one can also investigate nonArchimedean geometry by negating the axiom of Archimedes in the fifth group. And finally. established the theory of groups that Klein would later apply to geometrical transformations. which means that you cannot add a 22nd axiom without creating contradictions in the system.647. And. Euclidean geometry is based on the totallity of the 21 axioms and it has been proved that this logical system is saturated. The second group. Evariste Galois (18111832). we get a more general but also less structured geometry. in its turn. n. The fourth group holds one unique axiom. This principle of Duality was developed by Poncelet who systematised the Projective Geometry of Desargues. then C is also said to be between C and A. Flammarion. The third group. luglio-agosto 1997. B and C belong to the same line and B is between A and C. For instance. If A. and their precise self-determination. which means that there can be both a projective geometry of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry. Now. gathers the 6 axioms needed to define geometrical equality.
projective geometry and topology. if we focus on what is called "position properties" as opposed to "metric properties". Projective geometry and topology can be more general only to the extent that they deal with looser transformations and objects. between Euclidean geometry. getting rid of distances and angles. the group of similitudes which defines Euclidean geometry. As such topology enables one to focus on fundamental properties from which our Euclidean intuition is distracted by the metric appearances. but not torn. So what clearly appears in Klein's theory of transformation as in Hilbert's axiomatics. Topology is less than Euclidean geometry. the use of this building induces a very specific experience for all the people whose destination lies above the first floor. it focuses on what is left. Peter in Rome. Because topology doesn't register any difference between a cube and a sphere.provided he knows where it is located . we encounter another group of transformations : the homeographies which define topology. This building is the Beaubourg Center in Paris. currently enveloped by more scaffolding for maintenance. Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz went so far as to propose columns of oval section in order to correct for perspective effects in his counterproposal for the colonnade of St. order and continuity. Let us take an example which should appeal to architects. so doing. and only look at the continuity of the figures and at the order in which their elements are linked together. strangely enough. Euclidean geometry includes topology. since no advantage has been taken of possible connections with the underground passing alongside the eastern facade. Common misunderstandings result from the fact that topology focuses on properties which typically lead to complex interlaced figures. the stains of rainwater on the gray carpet. we come upon a third group of transformations. rotation. at least to our knowledge. Euclidean geometry requires more axioms and more structured properties. one would find himself in the inverse mixed situation. Translation. But there is one well-known building which actually has a rather complex topological structure that has been overlooked. And finally. This corresponds to the common notion of perspective that a circle should be drawn as an ellipse when seen obliquely and it has been an important debate in architecture: to decide whether our eye is able to recognize circles perceived on the slant (3). of course. or the streams of people in coats heading chaotically to escalators where. just as if figures where made of an elastic material which can be stretched and deformed. Nor does it fully function as a urban machine. The Moebius strip has now become common place in contemporary architecture. where he remains in an kind of exterior space although being already in the interior of the building. This scaffolding-building.and. which assimilate the circle. is certainly not original by virtue of its machinic image. It is a bifurcation between geometries of the same level. such as the vastness of the hall. the ellipses. is that there is a hierarchy organizing the various geometries. there is a relation of inclusion in terms of both number of axioms and relevant geometrical properties left invariant by a certain group of transformations. So. if we do away with position properties. Whereas. he would not pass directly to the inside but to an intermediate kind of situation. Between Euclidean and nonEuclidean geometries (those of Riemann and Lobachevsky). But. which appear all the more difficult to draw since perspective is no longer taught to the general public. order and continuity are also essential to Euclidean geometry. although in most projects this remains more a rhetorical figure than a geometrical structure. symmetry and scaling form a wider group of transformations. The escalators obviously
.which is the scaling. which is but a revival of the utopic drawings of Archigram. We then get the group of homologies which defines projective geometry. and makes obvious the difference between the sphere and the torus. This mixed situation arises from a series of conditions. or we would say. there is only a question of specifying the form of the Parallel postulate. one would enter by the main entrance . Continuing in this fashion. However. we can add projections and sections to the group of similitudes. the parabola and the hyperbola as sections through the same invariant cone. In this case.
and the stillness of the people standing on the mechanical steps while starting to undress. On the contrary. And. To be sure. they mean to indicate that they do not care about the actual shape in which topology can be incarnated. the design of complex curvature is essentially Euclidean. of course. Willingly or not. be they Euclidean or not. freed from this tension between interior and exterior. even if one is again confronted by the weather. we may want to remind ourselves of the formless topological background common to all saturated geometries. And finally. can we make people forget Euclid. Topology cannot be said to be curved because it precedes any assignment of metrical curvature. contribute to create a kind of cozy atmosphere which can even become oppressive. and this implies a metric. Because topological structures are often represented with in some ways indefinite curved surfaces. One should not think of Euclidean geometry as cubes opposed to the free interlacing of topology. but the fact is that this structure could be built and actually exist in Euclidean space.take people back to the outside. recapitulating this experience. the variations of which are not relevant for topology. one would find oneself more sheltered than one was before in the main hall. This spatial experience has the topological structure of a Klein bottle. that suddenly the trivial concept of the unique parallel starts playing tricks on you.
. But this reminder demands accurate work on curvature. architects measure things. So.
One single topological structure has an infinity of Euclidean incarnations. one might think that topology brings free curvature to architecture. its circular section. suspending them in the air while they contemplate the Parisian skyline. In so doing. about which topology has nothing to say. we enter into Euclidean geometry. it is only when one enters the rooms of the museum or of the library that one really feels inside. we would say that one comes from the outside to enter in an external interior and then proceed into an internal exterior before finally getting inside. The narrow dimensions of the tube. but in the meantime. To what extent this topology has been taken into account in this particular architecture is another question. that is. the Klein Bottle can take many shapes. it is only when variable curvature is involved that we start getting the real flavor of Euclid. as soon as it comes to actually making a geometrical figure out of a topological structure. Only by mastering the metrics. When mathematicians draw those kind of free surfaces. they should open the mind of architects and allow them to think of spatial structures before styling them as either curved or squared. Moreover. but this is a misunderstanding. New topological structures can be incarnated in Euclidean space as squared figures as well as curved figures.
Those new representations substitute to the more traditional one and it is rather a sign a richness that Euclidean space can house several types of representation. This is very different from the Beaubourg example where we proposed a spatial structure for an architectural space. Not that we want to repeat Kant's error saying that Euclidean space would be the unique form of spatial intuition. one would certainly experience a fourth dimension in its visual space.
Let's now take another example at the scale of the territory. sorts of deformed territories where. topology can be very usefull to analyse phenomena the dimensions of which are not restricted to the three dimensions of space. see also Claude Perrault's critics of optical corrections. As regards multidimensional phenomena. cannot be suspected of empiricism. and then because it suits rather well the behavior of solid bodies and light. for instance. would conclude that "Euclidean geometry is not true but is the fittest" (4). while the slower means of communications would be inscribed on the outer distended surface of the tunnel. it is a spatial representation of distances measured in time. We would then get a kind of Riemann surface with a tunnel directly linking Paris to Bordeaux. but we cannot avoid the fact that there is a highly positive feed back between our Euclidean intuition and the experimental behaviour of physical space. the best geometric vehicle remains 3D Euclidean space. In a world where accommodation and convergence of our eyes would require two different efforts. Hence the interest in isochrone maps. Poincaré would even go so far as to justify the limitation of our experience to three dimensions by relating it to the combination of the two dimensional surface of our retina with the single independent variable of our muscular efforts to focus on object according to their distance. certainly. These isochrone maps certainly give shape to the perception of geographical space by train travellers. And indeed. But note that those folded surfaces of isochrone maps or even isochrone tunnels can very well be represented in 3D Euclidean space. Henry Poincaré who. All these phenomena are certainly topological. But morover. In his dialogue with Bertrand Russel.Notes
(3) Cf: Architectura Civil by Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz. and this for two reasons. since it is a question of modified distances which have an impact on order and continuity. just like a polynome of the first order is simpler than a polynome of the second order. We could even go further and use a 3D curvature to manifest the coexistence of fast tracks with slower means of communication. First because it is objectively the simplest. insofar as we want to give an easy intuition of them. Paul Virilio has rightfully emphasized the importance of speed in the perception of territory. Bordeaux would appear much closer to Paris than Clermond-Ferrand because the first town benefits from a fast train link. But perhaps the best
Not to mention the striking formal analogy between the Christian Cross and the Cartesian system of X-Y axis. By the way. Sure we can think of multidimensional topologies. Hence. I would say that the essential part of our work is not to create "multidimensional topological non-Euclidean virtual spaces" but to design interfaces between parametric hyperspaces and 3D Euclidean figures. interfaces much more "heimat" than "cyber". but he lacked the analytical formalism which would be invented by Descartes (1596-1650) and Fermat (1601-1663). Just as an example. We believe. translate. there also exist Euclidean hyperspaces as well as projective hyperspaces. or plunge multidimensional spaces of all kinds into 3D new Euclidean figures. As far as architectural practice goes. before him. it is only in 1700 that the equation of the sphere was first written. but the real use of coordinates could only come out of relations established between those two numbers.y. only 230 years old and originates somewhere between Claude Perrault's Ordonnance des cinq espčces de colonnes selon la Méthode des Anciens (1683) which made the architectural orders a convention and Durand's Précis des leçons d'architecture (1802-1805) which based architectural composition on an abstract system of axis. As for Descartes himself. But Euclidean space has nothing to do with these traditional archetypes of space. he kept on mixing analytical procedures and geometrical methods that he always used for elements of the first order ( straight lines and planes). we think that what has be to be thought and drawn is the way in which we use. Fully isotrope 3D space is. But multidimensionality is not the exclusive privilege of topology. one is perplexed when one hears of non-Euclidean interfaces in cyberspace. although the output is plain euclidean 3D. Sure. But it took a very long time before this formal element assumed its current status of abstract grid and we
. The grid in itself is certainly a very ancient and fundamental element which can be found in the castrum romanum as well as in the architectural orders with the vertical column and the horizontal entablature. one can only be struck by the pregnancy of very traditional spatial metaphors: like the double-pitched house or the village. By contemplating arcs of circles which axiomatically behave as lines. then. He went further by extending his system of co-ordinates to 3D space and even to a kind of four dimensional space. Thus.argument in favor of Euclidean geometry is to remind of the satisfaction of mathematicians when the same Poincaré provided an Euclidean model of Lobachevsky's geometry. Up to that point. I will mention that Objectile uses everyday mathematical functions with a great number of parameters in order to design 3D surfaces. which will then exceed the capacity of 3D Euclidean space.z) would later be called Cartesian space. When one goes into telecommunication laboratories working on interfaces of the socalled virtual space. the principle of locating one point on the plane by two segments was already known to the Greeks. Nicolas Oresme who died as the Bishop of Lisieux in 1382. that we won't invent any new architectural space without going deeper into Euclidean geometry. one could at least figure out what it was all about. at any rate. although real analytical geometry would only show up in the 18th century. was probably the first one to really introduce rectangular co-ordinates (which he called longitude and latitude) and to establish relations like the equation of the straight line (5). And it is not until 1770. The bi-univocal correspondence between points of the Euclidean space and three-numbers sets (x. that Lagrange wrote the equation of the straight line and plane in a system with three equivalent co-ordinates. the abscissa was privileged over the ordinate. We then work within multidimensional parametric spaces. and our daily experience in computer-aided design and manufacture confirms. analytical geometry was limited to the plane and ignored 3D space. one must be convinced that analytical tri-dimensionality is not entirely outdated in the history of Euclidean geometry. In his Introductio in analysis infinitorum (1748) Leonard Euler was the first to establish the principle of equivalence of the double axis: x and y.
The Greek Appolonius had already considered them as sections of a cone whose basis was a circle. architect but also Abby of the counter-reformist Theatines Order. He enunciated the fundamental principal of duality by asserting that every theorem involving points and planes has a shadow theorem which can be deduced by swapping the words "point" and "plane". each being thought to constitute a specific case. which admitted of being transformed into one another by projections and sections. Swapping "points" and "planes" enables us to replace the three first axioms by the three following. Carnot. Parallels would now intersect like any other line and converge toward this point at infinity which is now considered just as another point on the plane.suspect it might take a bit longer before we draw all the consequences of this "cartesianisation" of Euclidean space. be assimilated to common points of the plane. these curves were studied in isolation. the circle. For their part. the metaphysicians could not accept that the infinite. a concept which enabled him to describe at once the closed finite figures of the circle and the ellipse as well as the open infinite parabola and the double hyperbola. Sieur Girard Desargues de Lyon. the parabola and the hyperbola were already known since antiquity. Nevertheless. In reaction. But stepping back from axiomatics. At about the same time that Descartes initiated analytical geometry. Hence also the emphasis on the optics of the "perspectiva naturalis" where the remoteness of objects is rendered by fading colors rather than by the rigorous geometrical constructions of the "perspectiva artificialis". the swap do not alter the postulates. The same slow-moving history happens with projective geometry the integration of which into CAD software is only starting nowadays. the work of Desargues would fall into oblivion and it is only at the end of the 18th century that projective geometry would raise a new interest with Monge. a French architect. the nine axioms put together as the postulates of projective geometry by Hilbert would give the principle of duality its most general form. The circle became just one particular case of the various conicals. would invent methods to draw complex figures only with finite points. in architecture. In its Brouillon projet d'une atteinte aux événements des rencontres du cône avec un plan (1639). Desargues would find considerable opposition amongst artists. Likewise. Guarino Guarini. which had been reintroduced into the Renaissance by Baldassare Peruzzi (6). considered as a divine attribute. Desargues had made a unified system out of the four conical curves. Poncelet would develop in space what Desargues had demonstrated in plane. As for the three remaining. Only Desargues would do away with any symbolism of the figure and draw all the consequences of the point at infinity. But Kepler still thought of geometry as a symbolic system and the continuum which linked together the conicals was still oriented toward the perfection of the circle. Later on. Apart from a few exceptions like Pascal and Mersenne. the ellipse. Hence the reluctance to accept that a circle seen from an oblique angle transform into an elliptical figure with its own consistency. we can say that projective geometry studies the effect of the two types of homographic transformations (projections and sections) on the
. This secularisation of infinity would not be particularly welcome. In 1604 Kepler had been the first to use the concept of the point at infinity. with primacy given to the circle as the perfect figure. The Académie de Peinture led by Le Brun would opposed this approach to perspective where things should be drawn according to geometrical rules rather than following empirical perception. To be sure. But even mathematicians like Descartes would show some reluctance to considering parallels as converging lines. metaphysicians and mathematicians. Apart from a few disciples like La Hire. Borromini would still use arcs of circle to compose the ovals of San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane instead of drawing real ellipsis. Chasles and especially Poncelet and von Staudt. had the idea to transpose the methods of perspective in geometry and it took some 200 years before the Napoleoniac officer Poncelet benefited from his captivity in Russia to synthesize projective geometry.
each of which is the object of a dedicated function in traditional software. allowing one to manipulate these three elements with same mathematical methods. One last parenthesis about the fundamentals of geometry before considering how the digital age could bring us the real flavour of Euclidean space rather than dissolve it. and still maintain control of its metric relations. mathematicians forgetting the spatial significance of their investigations. As far as technical applications are concerned. But the evolution of mathematics would go the other way. as CAD software become parametric and variational. The various primary forms that constituted the Roman lesson of Le Corbusier in his book Vers une architecture: the cylinder. Thus. together with more sophisticated figures like the torus. All points of projective space would be associated to four numbers X. What will probably happen is that. CAD software kernels will benefit from the extension of Euclidean space within projective geometry. So much so that future CAD software. such as architecture. are no longer isolated archetypes but appear as particular cases in the continuum of the quadrics. For instance. Y. the radical axis defined by the points of intersection between two circles to keep on existing as an imaginary axis when the circles no longer overlap. one can notice in the field of mathematics a strong return to geometry initiated by eminent figures like Coxeter. and those numbers would be either real or imaginary to take into account imaginary solutions in equations of intersections. points. Not by chance is this company called SGDL. designers can start to implement topological deformation into Euclidean metrics. finite and infinite radius. Projective geometry would then become an algebra which developed for its own sake. As such they will integrate the concepts we have mentioned above: points at infinity. Poncelet would use these projections and sections to develop theorems already demonstrated for simple figures like circles. the pyramide. Poncelet was very attached to spatial intuition and wanted to develop projective geometry as an autonomous discipline. we first looked at the postulates and their axiomatisation by
. for instance. And according to the principle of continuity.variety of Euclidean space to which has been added points at infinity. Suffice it to say that the twin brother of CATIA was called EUCLID (7). This allows. one day or another. They have already developed a single interface which enables one to manipulate points at infinity and thus unify the various primitives. which stands for Sieur Girard Desargues de Lyon: since this team of software developers still find time to peruse mathematical writings several centuries old. the cube. the fourth one enabling the addition of points at infinity to Cartesian space. For several years already. a French and Canadian company has started developing the most advanced CAD software kernel on the basis of these ideas and their first real time application in due this year. This general method of considering curves of order "n" would pave the way for spaces of curves. and extend them to all conicals or curves of the second order. Poncelet would also assume that theorems established for finite and real figures also apply to infinite and imaginary cases. the parallelepiped and the sphere. Meanwhile CAD softwares appeared in 1960's and their structure remained strictly Cartesian. the extension of euclidean space to infinite points is complemented by another extension to imaginary points. And more generally. independent of algebraic analysis. Projective geometry would benefit from the same algebraic methods which applied to Euclidean space with cartesian geometry. the digital age is still deeply Euclidean and will probably remain so for all the good reasons we have rehearsed. For instance. Z. U. which means that you can now stretch a model. instead of becoming non-Euclidean will rather benefit from all the extensions of Euclidean space into Arguesian geometry. circles and straight lines form a four dimensional space in which they are assimilated to circles of zero. While examining how the Thirteen books of Euclid have been reworked throughout the history of mathematics. imaginary points and multidimensional spaces of curves and surfaces (8).
there is. Euclid's Thirteen books. and we now realize that even its logical structure should not be call into question anymore than logic itself. And the truth of this symptom seems to indicate that we
. Bulletin hispanique. still appears as the best available theoretical and practical tool to deal with figures in space. But. Moreover. very few people take advantage of this incompleteness for claiming for a non-peanean arithmetic. it bears the value of a symptom. But what Gödel demonstrated is that this is a general flaw of all powerful axiomatics.Hilbert. geometry suffers from the same flaws as its presupposed axiomatics. which in turn includes a logic. So whatever the angle we are looking from. pp: 454-467).
From this perspective then. Hilbert's axiomatic geometry also relies on basic notions of arithmetic and logic. As a direct consequence. (5) P. Dominique Soto et la scolastique parisienne (Annales de la Faculté des Lettres de Bordeaux. Thus geometry is spoilt by the same incompleteness that Gödel demonstrated about arithmetic. To our knowledge. Duhem. This led us to the fact that the primary terms of geometry should no longer be subject to definition because their signification would. since there is a hierarchy of axiomatic systems by which geometry includes an arithmetic. 1911. 1902. which doesn't specifically affect Euclidean geometry. to our knowledge. but also the cubics and the quartics. up to now. (6) See Wolfgang Lotz: Die ovalen Kirchenräume des Cinquecento. Then. we haven't said a word about the common notions by which Euclid referred to arithmetic and logic. (8) SGDL is now able to handle not only the quadrics. (7) CATIA just bought EUCLID while we were writing this text. which means that there are true propositions which cannot be proven as such and remain undecidable within the system itself. arithmetic suffers from the same flaw and. La science et l'hypothese. in 1937 Gentzen reestablished the coherence of the theory of numbers by using one single principle referring to an intuition exterior to the formal system. be a consequence of the relations established by the axioms. is the contemporary rejection of Euclid a merely academic matter or just another strategy of the avant-garde? Is it a tabula rasa of space that seeks to succeed the tabula rasa of time through which the Moderns sought to rid us of the past? We have seen how the controversy about projective geometry in the Baroque era was already architecture and still philosophy. even among people manipulating billions of dollars across the planet. in fact. Paris.
(4) Henri Poincaré. All the same. for instance. Incompleteness can be mitigated by a limited recourse to intuition. we have already seen to what extent modern physics have validated Euclidean intuition. For instance. we can suspect that when a proposition as errant as non-Euclidean architectural space becomes so widespread. no such thing as a "non-peanean finance". the more than 2000 years old work.
a machining program generator starts by calculating the set of points at an equal distance from the surface. distance given by the radius of the spherical tool of the router. the strength and the ability to establish distances.objectile. from which we already see that the parallel transforms a figure into another type of figure [fig. 1]. For a tool path is fundamentally a parallel to the surface to be manufactured. The value of Euclidean space would be of less consequence to us. 1-7. A machining program is basically the parallel to a free surface. In other words. at least. Then there no surprise as long as we consider the core of the segment whose parallel can be assimilated to the two transposed segments. but what happens when it comes to the
. By definition. 2]. The parallels are then the two lines transposed on each side of the original line at a given distance. so fundamental in Euclidean geometry. the parallel to a point P is the set of points at a given distance from P. But this misconception will quickly vanish when we consider the finite straight line. which choice would result in either the solid sphere where distance is established as a constant surrounding an identified centre or the teratology of inconsistent figures… Just as if curvature could not start to vary without having us fall into indeterminacy.have lost the will or. were we not involved in numerically controlled manufacturing [Cf www. It is then a circle. We might find ourselves facing a false choice between the old metaphysical circle and the cyber topological ectoplasm. but also in the philosophical sense in which Nietzsche used this concept (9).
Fig. And the concept of parallel. whichever it is. The parallel is easy to draw as long as we consider a infinite line.net]. Take all the decisions that a CAD software has to take when it comes to drawing parallels. But let us come back to technical matters. This is the canonical case according to which we generally confuse parallel and translation [fig. Then comes the case of the straight line. starts creating interesting problems long before we contemplate free surfaces. not only in the geometrical sense.
6]. squared or chamfered (10) [fig. In this case the generation of the parallel creates bigger and smaller circles.
. And the dissatisfaction might even become greater when we notice that the parallel is generally not a reciprocal transformation. coming back to our square and its two parallels. as well as the primary intuition of the general public. And this might certainly dissatisfy many architects and designers. 4]. The line then becomes an oblong [fig. 4bis]. which is called "homothetie" in French. which of course can be a serious limitation. 7]. while the gaps between the four external segments is a direct consequence of our additional rule [fig. Thus.ends? Rigorously speaking. CAD software usually provide several options to solve this problem in the case of polygonal or composite figures: external parallels can be chosen to be rounded. 3]. we have to add a rule to our definition of the parallel. and the operation becomes a scaling transformation. 3bis]. we must add two half circles to the two segments on each side of the original straight line. 5]. CAD software can always find solutions for extrapolating distorted squares. since the first result of the parallel will then be eight independent segments [fig. The shortening of the interior segments is preliminary to the elimination of loops in the most general case of parallels. the external parallel will become a square with rounded corners [fig. meaning where the latter can be calculated [fig. elements like walls are "intelligent" enough to behave as the majority would expect them to. If we cancel this rule again. but we must be aware of the irreversible loss of information each time we come back from an internal parallel to an external parallel [fig. Otherwise. based on the Greek etymology "homoios" meaning "similar". if we want to stick to the intuitive idea of the two segments. Similarly when figures are composed of more complex elements.Two parallels to the same curve by different extrapolation method. specifying that we only want the points at a distance that can be determined according to a orthogonal line. But we will quickly see that this rule will lead us to other problems in the next case : that of the square. We now have to distinguish the inside of the square from the outside and make two different cases in order to link together the four isolated external segments and shorten the four internal crossing segments. the reverse parallel of a parallel to an initial figure is not necessarily this initial figure. If. we consider the inner one and generate its external parallel at the same distance used previously. 8 . we come upon a rounded square the straight parts of which merge with the sides of the initial square [fig.
Fig. because they are indeed at the same given distance from the original line. This result might satisfy many people in the molding industry but it leaves us with a figure different from the original square and its internal parallel. 4ter]. 8]. This intuition would tend to extrapolate on the basis of the very special case of the circle where both the inner and outer parallel remain a shape similar to that of the initial circle [fig. And in the case of architecture software.
But the parallel does not only break symmetry. This irreversible loss of information becomes even more blatant in the case of a free open curve as one increases the distance according to which the parallel is generated.
Fig. As Henry Moore wrote: "Rodin of course knew what sculpture is: he once said that sculpture is the science of the bump and the hollow" (11).
. 11]. The first effect of the parallel is to reduce the radius of curvature of concavities and increase that of the convexities. 9]. Concave relief.Convex relief.Parallels on both side of a simmetrycal curve. Symmetrical relief. the phenomena being inverse in the case of a negative distance [fig. This is an issue of more than merely mathematical interest for architects and designers. This is the case of a positive distance in reference to the concavities. The parallel breaks curvature symmetry by emphasizing concavity while softening convexity. or vice versa. Convexities and concavities are the mathematical equivalents of the sculptural bumps and hollows. 9 .Fig. 10 . 10]. it starts creating loops where the distance assumes a value superior to the local radius of curvature on the initial curve [fig. since concavity and convexity are the basic intensive qualities on which sculpture is based [fig.
The parallel transforms simple undulations into strange surfaces. where loops can themselves include other loops [fig. on the inverse parallel of the parallel.Fiocchi su di una parallela ad una curva libera. as in the multiplying of cornices and frames.
Fig. since the basic operation carried on by a CAM software is precisely to cancel the loops on the parallel surface which a spherical tool has to follow in order to machinate a relief. Architects and designers shouldn't ignore this issue either.Fig. or strange because Euclidean should we say. this loss of information will appear as zones where the tool is too large to get into the concavities and will then substitute its own constant radius for the varying curvature of the initial relief [fig. We can bet that baroque architects already knew quite a bit about these transformations by which they endlessly created curves out of curves. although still Euclidean.Parallel at a distance superior to the radius and parallel at a distance equal to the radius. 12 .
. On the final relief. It is this elimination of loops which is responsible for the loss of information we have already encountered in the case of the square. 13]. 11 . 12].
Circles can be modulated. like Parasolid. we can certainly take advantage of them in order to investigate new figures within Euclidean space.Machinic parallel.
. initial relief. The examination of a simple operation like the parallel of the square already shows a variety of unexpected cases. cannot solve directly.Fig. Old methods like Guarini's "maniera di condurre una linea ondeggiante" (12) can be pushed further than was previously possible. figures which we will be able to manufacture and build. applied Euclidean geometry is not that simple. we would very much like to record the exact geometry of the handrail that Desargues drew for the entrance stairs of the Château de Vizille built in Dauphiné in 1653. There still are very basic operations which the best modelers available on the market. we can start thinking of the general concept of variable curvature. 13 . but if we think about these difficulties as architects. final relief. What we are hinting at is that architects can turn the complexity of Euclidean geometry into richness. As one can see. At the moment when Euclidean geometry is supported by computers. and then check to what extent it can be drawn with current CAD software. the generation of swept shape along a line the radius of curvature of which becomes locally inferior to half the width of the section. Let us mention for instance. On examining the intricacies of the basic concept of the parallel. Parallels do not need to be drawn at a constant distance anymore. one understands that it is far more complex than the false intuition by which we assimilate this operation to usual transformations such as translation or scaling. As an example of this type of problem.
we haven't really tasted it yet! Bernard Cache. 14. And if. thanks to the parametric software. Arcs of circle are drawn from the center located at the intersection of the oblique lines and passing by the intersection of these oblique lines with a variable horizontal line. The lines thus generated result more or less concave and convex according to the position of the horizontal line in relation to the middle axis of the rectangle. December 21st 1998
. which enables to generate a variety of undulating lines. Guarini explicitly presents his sketch as a general device. It is no wonder since Guarini's sketch is a method to generate undulating lines by creating parallel at a variable distance. So now think of undulations which don't need to be created out of planar arcs of circles! Think of parallels at a distance which is always variable! Many unexpected figures will then enable us to incarnate complex topologies in Euclidean space. We have only caught a whiff. you push the horizontal line beyond the limits of the rectangle. As such it can be drawn on parametric software. you then get the strange looped lines we have already encountered.Fig. Figure 14 shows a sketch that Guarini presented in his "Architettura civile".
How to fold various curved lines necessary for orthography: way of drawing an undulating line. (10) Interestingly enough. (12) See Guarino Guarini: Architettura civile. (11) Henry Moore writings are collected by Philip James in Henry Moore on Sculpture.(9) Let us also mention that parallelism was the name under which Leibniz and Spinoza discussed the question of the relation between body and soul. Da Capo Press. Trattato III. The peripheral contour of the block can remain square or become chamfered (Plan Cerda) or rounded. New York. Lastra III. 1992. we find those three solutions at many architectural scale. starting by that of the urban block built around a square courtyard. Capo secondo: Del modo di piegare varie linee curve necessarie all'ortogarfia: maniera di condurre una linea ondeggiante.