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(The royal road in geometry1)

George Mpantes mathematics teacher

From my book
Selected stories in mathematics and physics

Apollonius The first four books of the Conics survive

in the original Greek, the next three only from a 9th-
century Arabic translation, and an eighth book is now
lost. Books IIV contain a systematic account of the
essential principles of conics and introduce the terms
ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola, by which they became
known. Apollonius conics is almost as famous as the
Elements of Euclid. Kepler was able to establish his
three laws of planetary motion only because
Apollonius had supplied so much information about
the conic

The idea

1 When asked by king Ptolemy for a short but to geometric knowledge, Euclid is said to to have
replied, there is no royal road ih geometry.

The story of the connection of arithmetic with geometry is dew to the great
deal of progress had been made in algebra during the later half of the sixteen
century and the early part of the seventeenth. Cardan, Tartalia, Vite, and
Descartes and Fermat themselves, had extended the theory of the solution of
equations, had introduced symbolism, and had established a number of algebraic
theorems and methods. And both Descartes and Fermat, working independently
of each other, saw clearly the potentialities in algebra for the representation and
study of curves. Their basic thought was that algebra should be used to
characterize any curve and as the means of deducing facts about the curve.
Hence in some way, numbers had to be brought into the picture.

That is the idea of analytic geometry.

The idea of locating points with numbers was old. For example ipparchus
had introduced latitude and longitude to locate points on the surface of the

How this idea was born again? Fermat and Descartes decide that
mathematics needed new methods of working with curves. What is relevant here
with Descard, is his general concept of method and his success in introduction
method in geometry by means of algebra. As an appendix to his Discourse on the
method he published his geometry. Descartes complained that the geometry of
the Greeks was so much tied to figures that it can exercise the understanding
only on condition of greatly fatiguing the imagination. He also apprediated that
the methods of Euclidean geometry speaking as the king Ptolemy- are
exceedingly varied and specialized, particularly in the study of the conic sections
and the few other curves explored in Greek geometry.

Also since Fermat had also participated in the advancement of algebra, he,
too, became aware of the potentialities in algebra for the investigation of
geometry. Moreover the practical applications (projectiles) and such information
is provided by algebra.

Descartes and Fermat, who were interested in curves lying in a plane,

introduced two perpendicular lines or axis and agreed to represent any point in
the plane by its distances from the two axes.

To know a curve means mathematically to know

some property that characterizes all the points of
the curve. The circle can be defined as the set of
al points that at the same distance from the
center. According to the Pythagorean theorem of
Euclidean geometry we the equation


an equation, an algebraic statement that holds for each point on the circle and for
no other points.

The parabola as was defined by Apollonius can be defined as the set of all
points that are equidistant from a given point (focus) and a given line(directrix)
so in the figure here we have PS=PM so

Finally y2=4ax

In such a process we could ask

ourselves whether the analytical geometry
method is sufficient to study and prove
every problem and theorem that arises from the development of the Euclid's plane basis.
This question is a difficult problem, and it is transferred to Hilbert's modern formal
axiomatic and metamathematics, which is not mentioned in the analytical geometry
textbooks. But there is a logical gap here-how to predict that all the theorems of
geometry have an algebraic solution - can we look at them one by one? - it reminds us of
the series in the era before Taylor, where the convergence of each series was neglected
and its study was downgraded.

In my book "The Relativity of Geometry and Space", we have

seen the concepts of interpretation of an axial basis - interpreting the original terms of
the system in some way transforming them in terms of some understanding - the
concept of its model - that is, an interpretation of the system for which the axioms of the

system are valid,- and the concept of the isomorphism of the axiomatic bases- when
the axioms of one are logical consequences (theorems) of the axioms of the other.

Now we will look at the interpretation and a model of Euclidean axioms in algebra
and the isomorphism that binds the two models, geometric and algebraic.

The algebraic interpretation of the primitive Euclidean terms

Our task is to assign algebraic meanings to the primitive terms point, line on,
and congruent (as applied to segments and to angles) that will convert each of
Euclids postulates into a theorem of algebra.

By a point we mean any ordered pair of real numbers.(the coordinates of the


By a line we mean any equation in the two variables x and y of the form
ax+by+c=0 a,b,c real numbers and a,b not both 0. A point is on the line if the
coordinates of the point satisfy the equation of the line.

We say a point is on a line if and only if the coordinates of the point satisfy an
equation of the line.

We say the segment denoted by (x1,y1 ),(x2,y2) is congruent to the segment

denoted by (x3,y3) (x4,y4) if and only if


We say finally that the measure of an angle A denoted by (x2,y2 ),(x1,y1), (x3,y3)
is given by

( )

So two angles A and A are congruent if and only if cosA = cosA when is the
angle denoted by the point (x2,y2 ),(x1,y1), (x3,y3)

The algebraic model of the Euclidean axioms

With the acceptance of these algebraic interpretations of the primitive terms of

Euclidean postulate set we may now convert each postulate of the set into an
algebraic statement. this can be shown, by the methods of algebra alone, so each
postulate becomes a theorem of algebra.

Axiom 1 there is one and only one line passing any two given distinct points

To verify it in our interpretation we must show

A. A. that there is an equation in the form ax+by +c=0

(a,b not both zero, all reals) which is satisfied by two distinct points x1,y1
),(x2,y2) of the variables x,y.

We consider the equation

(y2-y1)x-(x2-x1)y+(x2y1-x1y2)=0 .. (1)

Substitution of x1,y1 ) , (x2,y2) in the equation (1) shows that this equation is
satisfied by the pairs (x1,y1 ) and (x2,y2), but this equation is of the desired for.

B. But we must show that, to within a constant nonzero constant factor, this
is the only equation of the desired form satisfied by the distinct pairs of
values (x1,y1 ) and (x2,y2). To this end, suppose (x1,y1 ) and (x2,y2) satisfy
the equation

ax+by+c=0 ..(2)

with a, b, c reals and a, b, are not both 0.

Then we have ax1+by1+c=0 ax2+by2+c=0 (3)

Or by subtraction a(x2-x1)+b(y2-y1)=0 (4)

Now suppose a0 then the equation (3) become


x1+By1+C=0 x2+By2+C=0 (5)

where B=b/a C=c/a

since a0 we cannot have y2-y1=0 for otherwise (4) would reduce to a(x2-x1) or
(x2-x1)=0, a situation which is impossible. Solving equations (5) simultaneously
for B and C we have

C= which result in analogies

a:b:c =(y2-y1) :- ( x:2-x1) :( x2y1-x1y2)

and, except for a possible constant nonzero factor equation (2) becomes our
equation (1). A similar argument can be carried out if instead of supposing a0,
we suppose b0. Thus postulate 1 becomes in our interpretation, a theorem of

Axioms 2,3,4 5 are long and are in Eves page 96. For example in parallel axiom
we can prove that if A(x1,y1 ) is a point and m is the line ax+by+c=0, then the
unique line through A that does not intersect m is given by ax+by-(ax1+by1)=0

The isomorphism-analytic method of geometry.

Thus, finally, the algebraic model of the Euclidean base is valid, it is another
model of the Euclidean base. But in my same book we saw:

the categorical postulate set P: a set of postulates is categorical if every two

models of the set are isomorphic.

Yet the Euclidean axiom system is categorical.

Therefore, the geometric (our known geometry) and the algebraic model of
the Euclidean system are isomorphic, i.e they are identical, we can replace one
geometry with the other by replacing the original terms and the relations from
the archetype to the images, one becomes the translation of the other. This
enables us to translate every geometric theorem into a corresponding algebraic

statement and step by step to translate the geometric proof of the geometric
theorem into an algebraic proof of the corresponding algebraic statement. Here
we have to make clear that this isomorphism is the meaning of analytic geometry
and not the algebraic model of the geometry we constructed. It is the translation
that the isomorphism installs from geometry to algebra and from algebra to
geometry that produces the final geometric result. That is why we say that
analytical geometry is a method rather than a branch of mathematics.

The student who is more proficient in formalistic algebraic process and

thoughts, than in geometry meditation, prefers analytical geometry, is for him
the royal road to the geometry that Euclid thought did not exist, and which today,
after the discovery of computers, became a royal avenue for geometry.

Relative books

Foundations and Fundamental concepts of mathematics Howard Eves Dover

Mathematics and the Physical world Morris Kline dover

Dirk J.Struik

George Mpantes Serres Greece 17/5/17