The Pythagorean

Theorem
Crown Jewel of Mathematics
3
4
5
John C. Sparks
The Pyt hagor ean
Theor em
Cr own Jewel of Mat hemat i c s
By John C. Spark s
2
The Pyt hagor ean Theor em
Cr own Jewel of Mat hemat i c s
Copyright © 2008
John C. Sparks
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced
in any form—except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a
review—without permission in writing from the author or
publisher. Front cover, Py thagorean Dreams , a compos ite
mos aic of his torical Py thagorean proof s . Back cover photo by
Curtis Spark s
ISBN: XXXXXXXXX
First Published by Author House XXXXX
Library of Congress Control Number XXXXXXXX
Published by Au t h or Hou s e
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
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Produced by Sparrow-Hawke †reasures
Xenia, Ohio 45385
Printed in the United States of America
3
Dedi c at i on
I would like to dedicate The Pythagorean Theorem to:
Carolyn Sparks, my wife, best friend, and life partner for
40 years; our two grown sons, Robert and Curtis;
My father, Roscoe C. Sparks (1910-1994).
Fr om Ea r t h wit h Love
Do you remember, as do I,
When Neil walked, as so did we,
On a calm and sun-lit sea
One J uly, Tranquillity,
Filled with dreams and futures?
For in that month of long ago,
Lofty visions raptur ed all
Moonstruck with that starry call
From life beyond t his earthen ball...
Not wedded t o its surface.
But marriage is of dust to dust
Where seasoned limbs reclaim the ground
Though passing thoughts st ill fly around
Supernal realms never found
On the planet of our birt h.
And I, a man, love you true,
Love as God had made it so,
Not angel rust when then aglow,
But coupled here, now rib t o soul,
Dear Carolyn of mine.
July 2002: 33rd Wedding Anniversary
4
Con c e pt u a l Us e of t h e Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m by
An c ie n t Gr e e k s t o Es t i ma t e t h e Dis t a n c e
Fr om t h e Ea r t h t o t h e Su n
Sign ifica n ce
The wisp in my glass on a clear winter’s night
Is home for a billion wee glimmers of light ,
Each crystal itself one faraway dream
With faraway worlds surrounding its gleam.
And locked in t he realm of each tiny sphere
Is all that is met through an eye or an ear;
Too, all that is felt by a hand or our love,
For we are but whits in the sea seen above.
Such scales immense make wonder abound
And make a lone knee touch the cold ground.
For what is this man that he should be made
To sing to The One Whose breath heavens laid?
July 1999
5
Tabl e of Cont ent s
Pa ge
Lis t of Ta bles a n d Figu r e s 7
Lis t of Pr oofs an d De ve lopme n t s 1 1
Pr e fa c e 1 3
1 ] Con s ide r t h e Squ a r e s 1 7
2 ] Fou r Th ou s an d Ye a r s of Dis c over y 2 7
2.1] Pythagoras and the First Proof 27
2.2] Euclid’s Wonderful Windmill 36
2.3] Liu Hui Packs the Squares 45
2.4] Kurrah Transforms the Bride’s Chair 49
2.5] Bhaskara Unleashes the Power of Algebra 53
2.6] Leonardo da Vinci’s Magnificent Symmetry 55
2.7] Legendre Exploits Embedded Similarity 58
2.8] Henry Perigal’s Tombstone 61
2.9] President Garfield’s Ingenious Trapezoid 66
2.10] Ohio and the Elusive Calculus Proof * 68
2.11] Shear, Shape, and Area 83
2.12] A Challenge for all Ages 86
3 ] Dia mon ds of t h e Same Min d 8 8
3.1] Extension to Similar Areas 88
3.2] Pythagorean Triples and Triangles 90
3.3] Inscribed Circle Theorem 96
3.4] Adding a Dimension 98
3.5] Pythagoras and the Three Means 101
3.6] The Theorems of Heron, Pappus, 104
Kurrah, Stewart
3.7] The Five Pillars of Trigonometry 116
3.8] Fermat’s Line in the Line 130
* Section 2.10 requires knowledge of college-level calculus
and be omitted without loss of continuity.
6
Tabl e of Cont ent s…c ont i nued
Pa ge
4 ] Pe a r ls of Fu n a n d Won de r 1 3 6
4.1] Sam Lloyd’s Triangular Lake 136
4.2] Pythagorean Magic Squares 141
4.3] Earth, Moon, Sun, and Stars 144
4.4] Phi, PI, and Spirals 157
Epilogu e: Th e Cr own a n d t h e J e we ls 1 6 6
Appe n dic e s 1 6 9
A] Greek Alphabet 170
B] Mathematical Symbols 171
C] Geometric Foundations 172
D] References 177
Topic al In de x 1 7 9
7
Li st of Tabl es and Fi gur es
Tabl es
Nu mbe r a n d Tit le Pa ge
2.1: Prior to Pythagoras 28
2.2; Three Euclidean Metrics 69
2.3: Categories of Pythagorean Proof 86
3.1: A Sampling of Similar Areas 89
3.2: Pythagorean Triples with c < 100 92
3.3: Equal-Area Pythagorean Triangles 95
3.4: Equal-Perimeter Pythagorean Triangles 95
3.5: Select Pythagorean Radii 97
3.6: Select Pythagorean Quartets 99
3.7: Power Sums 135
4.1: View Distance versus Altitude 149
4.2: Successive Approximations for  2 164
Fi gur es
Nu mbe r a n d Tit le Pa ge
1.1: The Circle, Square, and Equilateral Triangle 17
1.2: Four Ways to Contemplate a Square 18
1.3: One Square to Two Triangles 19
1.4: One Possible Path to Discovery 19
1.5: General Right Triangle 20
1.6: Four Bi-Shaded Congruent Rectangles 21
1.7: A Square Donut within a Square 22
1.8: The Square within the Square is Still There 22
1.9: A Discovery Comes into View 23
1.10: Behold! 24
1.11: Extreme Differences versus… 25
8
Fi gur es…c ont i nued
Nu mbe r a n d Tit le Pa ge
2.1: Egyptian Knotted Rope, Circa 2000 BCE 27
2.2: The First Proof by Pythagoras 29
2.3: An Alternate Visual Proof by Pythagoras 30
2.4: Annotated Square within a Square 31
2.5: Algebraic Form of the First Proof 32
2.6: A Rectangular Dissection Proof 33
2.7: Twin Triangle Proof 34
2.8: Euclid’s Windmill without Annotation 36
2.9 Pondering Squares and Rectangles 37
2.10: Annotated Windmill 38
2.11: Windmill Light 40
2.12: Euclid’s Converse Theorem 43
2.13: Liu Hui’s Diagram with Template 45
2.14: Packing Two Squares into One 46
2.15: The Stomachion Created by Archimedes 48
2.16: Kurrah Creates the Brides Chair 49
2.17: Packing the Bride’s Chair into the Big Chair 50
2.18: Kurrah’s Operation Transformation 51
2.19: The Devil’s Teeth 52
2.20: Truth versus Legend 53
2.21: Bhaskara’s Real Power 54
2.22: Leonardo da Vinci’s Symmetry Diagram 55
2.23: Da Vinci’s Proof in Sequence 56
2.24: Subtle Rotational Symmetry 57
2.25: Legendre’s Diagram 58
2.26: Barry Sutton’s Diagram 59
2.27: Diagram on Henry Perigal’s Tombstone 61
2.28: Annotated Perigal Diagram 62
2.29: An Example of Pythagorean Tiling 64
2.30: Four Arbitrary Placements… 64
2.31: Exposing Henry’s Quadrilaterals 65
2.32: President Garfield’s Trapezoid 66
2.33: Carolyn’s Cauliflower 71
2.34: Domain D of F 72
9
Fi gur es…c ont i nued
Nu mbe r a n d Tit le Pa ge
2.35: Carolyn’s Cauliflower for y = 0 75
2.36: Behavior of G on IntD 76
2.37: Domain and Locus of Critical Points 77
2.38: Logically Equivalent Starting Points 79
2.39: Walking from Inequality to Equality… 80
2.40: Shearing a Rectangle 83
2.41: A Four-Step Shearing Proof 84
3.1: Three Squares, Three Crosses 88
3.2: Pythagorean Triples 90
3.3 Inscribed Circle Theorem 96
3.4 Three Dimensional Pythagorean Theorem 98
3.5: Three-Dimensional Distance Formula 100
3.6: The Three Pythagorean Means 101
3.7: The Two Basic Triangle Formulas 104
3.8: Schematic of Hero’s Steam Engine 104
3.9: Diagram for Heron’s Theorem 105
3.10: Diagram for Pappus’ Theorem 108
3.11: Pappus Triple Shear-Line Proof 109
3.12: Pappus Meets Pythagoras 110
3.13: Diagram for Kurrah’s Theorem 111
3.14: Diagram for Stewart’s Theorem 113
3.15: Trigonometry via Unit Circle 118
3.16: Trigonometry via General Right Triangle 120
3.17: The Cosine of the Sum 122
3.18: An Intricate Trigonometric Decomposition 125
3.19: Setup for the Law of Sines and Cosines 127
4.1: Triangular Lake and Solution 137
4.2: Pure and Perfect 4x4 Magic Square 141
4.3: 4x4 Magic Patterns 142
4.4: Pythagorean Magic Squares 143
4.5: The Schoolhouse Flagpole 144
4.6: Off-Limits Windmill 145
4.7 Across the Thorns and Nettles 146
4.8: Eratosthenes’s Egypt 147
10
Fi gur es…c ont i nued
Nu mbe r a n d Tit le Pa ge
4.9: Eratosthenes Measures the Earth 148
4.10: View Distance to Earth’s Horizon 149
4.11: Measuring the Moon 150
4.12: From Moon to Sun 153
4.13: From Sun to Alpha Centauri 155
4.14: The Golden Ratio 157
4.15: Two Golden Triangles 158
4.16: Triangular Phi 160
4.17: Pythagorean PI 161
4.18: Recursive Hypotenuses 162
4.19: Pythagorean Spiral 165
E.1: Beauty in Order 166
E.2: Curry’s Paradox 167
A.0: The Tangram 169
11
Li st of Pr oof s and Devel opment s
Se c t ion a n d Topic Pa ge
1.1: Speculative Genesis of Pythagorean Theorem 23
2.1: Primary Proof by Pythagoras* 29
2.1: Alternate Proof by Pythagoras* 30
2.1: Algebraic Form of Primary Proof* 32
2.1: Algebraic Rectangular Dissection Proof* 33
2.1: Algebraic Twin-Triangle Proof* 34
2.2: Euclid’s Windmill Proof* 39
2.2: Algebraic Windmill Proof* 40
2.2: Euclid’s Proof of the Pythagorean Converse 42
2.3: Liu Hui’s Packing Proof* 45
2.3: Stomachion Attributed to Archimedes 48
2.4: Kurrah’s Bride’s Chair 49
2.4: Kurrah’s Transformation Proof* 50
2.5: Bhaskara’s Minimal Algebraic Proof* 54
2.6: Leonardo da Vinci’s Skewed-Symmetry Proof * 56
2.7: Legendre’s Embedded-Similarity Proof* 58
2.7: Barry Sutton’s Radial-Similarity Proof* 59
2.8: Henry Perigal’s Quadrilateral-Dissection Proof*62
2.8: Two Proofs by Pythagorean Tiling* 64
2.9: President Garfield’s Trapezoid Proof* 66
2.10: Cauliflower Proof using Calculus* 71
2.11: Four-Step Shearing Proof* 84
3.1: Pythagorean Extension to Similar Areas 88
3.2: Formula Verification for Pythagorean Triples 91
3.3: Proof of the Inscribed Circle Theorem 96
3.4: Three-Dimension Pythagorean Theorem 98
3.4: Formulas for Pythagorean Quartets 99
3.4: Three-Dimensional Distance Formula 100
3.5: Geometric Development of the Three Means 101
3.6: Proof of Heron’s Theorem 106
3.6: Proof of Pappus’ General Triangle Theorem 108
3.6: Proof of Pythagorean Theorem 110
Using Pappus’ Theorem*
12
Li st of Pr oof s and Devel opment s…c ont i nued
Se c t ion a n d Topic Pa ge
3.6: Proof of Kurrah’s General Triangle Theorem 111
3.6: Proof of Pythagorean Theorem 112
Using Kurrah’s Theorem*
3.6: Proof of Stewart’s General Triangle Theorem 113
3.7: Fundamental Unit Circle Trigonometry
3.7: Fundamental Right Triangle Trigonometry 118
3.7: Development of Trigonometric Addition 122
Formulas
3.7: Development of the Law of Sines 127
3.7: Development of the Law of Cosines 128
3.8: Statement Only of Fermat’s Last Theorem 132
3.8: Statement of Euler’s Conjecture and Disproof 133
4.1: Triangular Lake—Statement and Solutions 137
4.2: 4x4 Magic Squares 141
4.2: Pythagorean Magic Squares 143
4.3: Heights and Distances on Planet Earth 144
4.3: Earth’s Radius and Horizon 147
4.3: Moon’s Radius and Distance from Earth 150
4.3: Sun’s Radius and Distance from Earth 152
4.3: Distance from Sun to Alpha Centauri 155
4.4: Development of the Golden Ratio Phi 157
4.4: Verification of Two Golden Triangles 158
4.4: Development of an Iterative Formula for PI 162
4.4: Construction of a Pythagorean Spiral 165
* These are actual distinct proofs of the Pythagorean
Theorem. This book has 20 such proofs in total.
13
Pr ef ac e
The Pythagorean Theorem has been with us for over 4000
years and has never ceased to yield its bounty to mathematicians,
scientists, and engineers. Amateurs love it in that most new proofs
are discovered by amateurs. Without the Pythagorean Theorem,
none of the following is possible: radio, cell phone, television,
internet, flight, pistons, cyclic motion of all sorts, surveying and
associated infrastructure development, and interstellar
measurement. The Pyt hagor ean Theor em, Cr own Jewel of Mat hemat i c s
chronologically traces the Pythagorean Theorem from a
conjectured beginning, Consi der t he Squar es (Chapter 1), through
4000 years of Pythagorean proofs, Four Thousand Year s of Di sc over y
(Chapter 2), from all major proof categories, 20 proofs in total.
Chapter 3, Di amonds of t he Same Mi nd, presents several
mathematical results closely allied to the Pythagorean Theorem
along with some major Pythagorean “spin-offs” such as
Trigonometry. Chapter 4, Pear l s of Fu n and Wonder , is a potpourri of
classic puzzles, amusements, and applications. An Epilogue, The
Cr own and t he Jewel s, summarizes the importance of the
Pythagorean Theorem and suggests paths for further exploration.
Four appendices service the reader: A] Gr eek Al phabet , B]
Mat hemat i c al Symbol s , C] Geomet r i c Foundat i ons, and D] Ref er enc es.
For the reader who may need a review of elementary geometric
concepts before engaging this book, Appendix C is highly
recommended. A Topi c al I ndex completes the book.
A Wor d on For mat s and Use of Symbol s
One of my interests is poetry, having written and
studied poetry for several years now. If you pick up a
textbook on poetry and thumb the pages, you will see
poems interspersed between explanations, explanations
that English professors will call prose. Prose differs from
poetry in that it is a major subcategory of how language is
used. Even to the casual eye, prose and poetry each have a
distinct look and feel.
14
So what does poetry have to do with mathematics?
Any mathematics text can be likened to a poetry text. In it,
the author is interspersing two languages: a language of
qualification (English in the case of this book) and a
language of quantification (the universal language of
algebra). The way these two languages are interspersed is
very similar to that of the poetry text. When we are
describing, we use English prose interspersed with an
illustrative phrase or two of algebra. When it is time to do
an extensive derivation or problem-solving activity—using
the concise algebraic language—then the whole page (or two
or three pages!) may consist of nothing but algebra. Algebra
then becomes the alternate language of choice used to
unfold the idea or solution. The Pyt hagor ean Theor em follows
this general pattern, which is illustrated below by a
discussion of the well-known quadratic formula.

Let 0
2
= + + c bx ax be a quadratic equation written
in the standard form as shown with 0 = a . Then
0
2
= + + c bx ax has two solutions (including complex and
multiple) given by the formula below, called the quadratic
formula.
a
ac b b
x
2
4
2
÷ ± ÷
= .
To solve a quadratic equation, using the quadratic formula,
one needs to apply the following four steps considered to be
a s olution proces s .
1. Rewrite the quadratic equation in standard form.
2. Identify the two coefficients and constant
term c b a ,& , .
3. Apply the formula and solve for the two x values.
4. Check your two answers in the original equation.
To illustrate this four-step process, we will solve the
quadratic equation 7 13 2
2
+ = x x .
15
0 7 13 2
7 13 2 :
2
2
1
= ÷ ÷
¬ + =
x x
x x 
****
7 , 13 , 2 :
2
÷ = ÷ = = c b a 
****
} 7 , {
4
15 13
4
225 13
4
56 169 13
) 2 ( 2
) 7 )( 2 ( 4 ) 13 ( ) 13 (
:
2
1
2
3
÷ e
¬
±
=
±
=
¬
+ ±
=
¬
÷ ÷ ÷ ± ÷ ÷
=
x
x
x
x 
****
:
4
 This step is left to the reader.

Taking a look at the text between the two happy-face
symbols  , we first see the usual mixture of algebra and
prose common to math texts. The quadratic formula itself,
being a major algebraic result, is presented first as a stand-
alone result. If an associated process, such as solving a
quadratic equation, is best described by a sequence of
enumerated steps, the steps will be presented in indented,
enumerated fashion as shown. Appendix B provides a
detailed list of all mathematical symbols used in this book
along with explanations.
Regarding other formats, italicized 9-font text is
used throughout the book to convey special cautionary
notes to the reader, items of historical or personal interest,
etc. Rather than footnote these items, I have chosen to
place them within the text exactly at the place where they
augment the overall discussion.
16
Lastly, throughout the book, the reader will notice a three-
squared triangular figure at the bottom of the page. One
such figure signifies a section end; two, a chapter end; and
three, the book end.
Cr edi t s
No book such as this is an individual effort. Many
people have inspired it: from concept to completion.
Likewise, many people have made it s o from drafting to
publishing. I shall list just a few and their contributions.
Elisha Loomis, I never knew you except through
your words in The Pythagorean Proposition; but thank you
for propelling me to fashion an every-person’s update
suitable for a new millennium. To those great Americans of
my youth—President John F. Kennedy, John Glenn, Neil
Armstrong, and the like—thank you all for inspiring an
entire generation to think and dream of bigger things than
themselves.
To my two editors, Curtis and Stephanie Sparks,
thank you for helping the raw material achieve full
publication. This has truly been a family affair.
To my wife Carolyn, the Heart of it All, what can I
say. You have been my constant and loving partner for
some 40 years now. You gave me the space to complete this
project and rejoiced with me in its completion. As always,
we are a proud team!
John C. Sparks
October 2008
Xenia, Ohio
17
1) Consi der t he Squar es
“If it was good enough for old Pythagoras,
It is good enough for me.” Unknown
How did the Pythagorean Theorem come to be a
theorem? Having not been trained as mathematical
historian, I shall leave the answer to that question to those
who have. What I do offer in Chapter 1 is a speculative,
logical sequence of how the Pythagorean Theorem might
have been originally discovered and then extended to its
present form. Mind you, the following idealized account
describes a discovery process much too smooth to have
actually occurred through time. Human inventiveness in
reality always has entailed plenty of dead ends and false
starts. Nevertheless, in this chapter, I will play the role of
the proverbial Monday-morning quarterback and execute a
perfect play sequence as one modern-day teacher sees it.
Figu r e 1 . 1 : Th e Cir c le , Squ a r e , a n d Equ ila t e r a l Tr ia n gle
Of all regular, planar geometric figures, the square
ranks in the top three for elegant simplicity, the other two
being the circle and equilateral triangle, Figu r e 1 . 1 . All
three figures would be relatively easy to draw by our distant
ancestors: either freehand or, more precisely, with a stake
and fixed length of rope.
18
For this reason, I would think that the square would be one
of the earliest geometrics objects examined.
Note: Even in my ow n early -s ixties high-s chool day s , s tring, chalk ,
and chalk -s tudded compas s es were us ed to draw ‘precis e’
geometric f igures on the black board. Whether or not this rank s me
with the ancien ts is a matter for the reader to decide.
So, how might an ancient mathematician study a
simple square? Four things immediately come to my
modern mind: translate it (move the position in planar
space), rotate it, duplicate it, and partition it into two
triangles by insertion of a diagonal as shown in Figu r e 1 . 2 .
Figu r e 1 . 2 : Fou r Wa ys t o Con t e mpla t e a Squ a r e
I personally would consider the partitioning of the square to
be the most interesting operation of the four in that I have
generated two triangles, two new geometric objects, from
one square. The two right-isosceles triangles so generated
are congruent—perfect copies of each other—as shown on
the next page in Figu r e 1 . 3 with annotated side lengths
s and angle measurements in degrees.
Trans late
Partition
My
Squ a r e
Rotate Replicate
19
Figu r e 1 . 3 : On e Squ a r e t o Two Tr ia n gle s
For this explorer, the partitioning of the square into perfect
triangular replicates would be a fascination starting point
for further exploration. Continuing with our speculative
journey, one could imagine the replication of a partitioned
square with perhaps a little decorative shading as shown in
Figu r e 1 . 4 . Moreover, let us not replicate just once, but
four times.
Figu r e 1 . 4 : On e Pos s ibl e Pa t h t o Dis c ove r y
1
¬
2
¬
3
¬
4
¬
5
¬
s
s s
s
0
90
0
90
0
45
0
45
0
45
0
45
20
Now, continue to translate and rotate the four replicated,
shaded playing piece pieces as if working a jigsaw puzzle.
After spending some trial-and-error time—perhaps a few
hours, perhaps several years—we stop to ponder a
fascinating composite pattern when it finally meanders into
view, Step 5 in Figu r e 1 . 4 .
Note: I have alw ays f ound it very amus ing to s ee a concis e and
logical textbook s equence [e.g. the f ive s teps s hown on the previous
page] pres ented in s uch a w ay that a s tudent is lef t to believe that
this is how the s equence actually happened in a his torical context.
Recall that Thomas Edis on had f our-thous and f ailures before finally
s ucceeding with the light bulb. Mathematicians are no les s prone to
dead ends and frus trations !
Since the sum of any two acute angles in any one of
the right triangles is again
0
90 , the lighter-shaded figure
bounded by the four darker triangles (resulting from Step 4)
is a square with area double that of the original square.
Further rearrangement in Step 5 reveals the fundamental
Pythagorean sum-of-squares pattern when the three
squares are used to enclose an empty triangular area
congruent to each of the eight original right-isosceles
triangles.
Of the two triangle properties for each little
triangle—the f act that each was right or the f act that each
w as is os celes —which was the key for the sum of the two
smaller areas to be equal to the one larger area? Or, were
both properties needed? To explore this question, we will
start by eliminating one of the properties, isosceles; in order
to see if this magical sum-of-squares pattern still holds.
Figu r e 1 . 5 is a general right triangle where the three
interior angles and side lengths are labeled.
Figu r e 1 . 5 : Ge n e r a l Righ t Tr ia n gle
A
B
C



21
Notice that the right-triangle property implies that the sum
of the two acute interior angles equals the right angle as
proved below.
= +
¬ = +
¬ =
= + +
  
 

  
0
0
0
90
90
& 180
Thus, for any right triangle, the sum of the two acute angles
equals the remaining right angle or
0
90 ; eloquently stated
in terms of Figu r e 1 . 5 as    = + .
Continuing our exploration, let’s replicate the
general right triangle in Figu r e 1 . 5 eight times, dropping all
algebraic annotations. Two triangles will then be fused
together in order to form a rectangle, which is shaded via
the same shading scheme in Figu r e 1 . 4 . Figu r e 1 . 6 shows
the result, four bi-shaded rectangles mimicking the four bi-
shaded squares in Figu r e 1 . 4 .
Figu r e 1 . 6 : Fou r Bi-Sh a de d Con gr u e n t Re c t a n gle s
With our new playing pieces, we rotate as before, finally
arriving at the pattern shown in Figu r e 1 . 7 .
22
Figu r e 1 . 7 : A Squ a r e Don u t wit h in a Squ a r e
That the rotated interior quadrilateral—the ‘square donut’—
is indeed a square is easily shown. Each interior corner
angle associated with the interior quadrilateral is part of a
three-angle group that totals
0
180 . The two acute angles
flanking the interior corner angle sum to
0
90 since these
are the two different acute angles associated with the right
triangle. Thus, simple subtraction gives the measure of any
one of the four interior corners as
0
90 . The four sides of
the quadrilateral are equal in length since they are simply
four replicates of the hypotenuse of our basic right triangle.
Therefore, the interior quadrilateral is indeed a square
generated f rom our bas ic triangle and its hy potenus e.
Suppose we remove the four lightly shaded playing
pieces and lay them aside as shown in Figu r e 1 . 8 .
Figu r e 1 . 8 : Th e Squ a r e wit h in t h e Squ a r e is St ill Th e r e
23
The middle square (minus the donut hole) is still plainly
visible and nothing has changed with respect to size or
orientation. Moreover, in doing so, we have freed up four
playing pieces, which can be used for further explorations.
If we use the four lighter pieces to experiment with
different ways of filling the outline generated by the four
darker pieces, an amazing discover will eventually manifest
itself—again, perhaps after a few hours of fiddling and
twiddling or, perhaps after several years—Figu r e 1 . 9 .
Note: To reiterate, Thomas Edis on tried 4000 different light-bulb
filaments before dis covering the right material f or s uch an
application.
Figu r e 1 . 9 : A Di s c ove r y Come s in t o Vie w
That the ancient discovery is undeniable is plain from
Figu r e 1 . 1 0 on the next page, which includes yet another
pattern and, for comparison, the original square shown in
Figu r e 1 . 7 comprised of all eight playing pieces. The 12
th
century Indian mathematician Bhaskara was alleged to
have simply said, “Behold!” when showing these diagrams
to students. Decoding Bhaskara’s terseness, one can create
four different, equivalent-area square patterns using eight
congruent playing pieces. Three of the patterns use half of
the playing pieces and one uses the full set. Of the three
patterns using half the pieces, the sum of the areas for the
two smaller squares equals the area of the rotated square in
the middle as shown in the final pattern with the three
outlined squares.
24
Figu r e 1 . 1 0 : Be h old!
Phrasing Bhaskara’s “proclamation” in modern algebraic
terms, we would state the following:
Th e Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m
Suppose we have a right triangle with side lengths
and angles labeled as shown below.
Then    = + and
2 2 2
C B A = + ¬ = +   
A
B
C



25
Our proof in Chapter 1 has been by visual inspection and
consideration of various arrangements of eight triangular
playing pieces. I can imagine our mathematically minded
ancestors doing much the same thing some three to four
thousand years ago when this theorem was first discovered
and utilized in a mostly pre-algebraic world.
To conclude this chapter, we need to address one
loose end. Suppose we have a non-right triangle. Does the
Pythagorean Theorem still hold? The answer is a
resounding no, but we will hold off proving what is known
as the converse of the Pythagorean Theorem,
   = + ¬ = +
2 2 2
C B A , until Chapter 2. However, we
will close Chapter 1 by visually exploring two extreme cases
where non-right angles definitely imply that
2 2 2
C B A = + .
Figu r e 1 . 1 1 : Ext r e me Diffe r e n c e s Ve r s u s
Pyt h a gor e a n Pe r fe c t ion
Pivot Poin t t o Pe r fe c t ion Be low
26
In Figu r e 1 . 1 1 , the lightly shaded squares in the upper
diagram form two equal sides for two radically different
isosceles triangles. One isosceles triangle has a large central
obtuse angle and the other isosceles triangle has a small
central acute angle. For both triangles, the darker shaded
square is formed from the remaining side. It is obvious to
the eye that two light areas do not sum to a dark area no
matter which triangle is under consideration. By way of
contrast, compare the upper diagram to the lower diagram
where an additional rotation of the lightly shaded squares
creates two central right angles and the associated
Pythagorean perfection.
Eu clid Alon e Ha s Looked on Bea u t y Ba r e
Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon t he earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, t he while they stare
At nothing, int ricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, ter rible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shown
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate t hey
Who, though once and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on st one.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
27
2) Four Thousand Year s of Di sc over y
Consider old Pyt hagoras,
A Greek of long ago,
And all that he did give to us,
Three sides whose squares now show
In houses, fields and highways straight;
In buildings standing tall;
In mighty planes that leave the gate;
And, micro-syst ems small.
Yes, all because he got it right
When angles equal ninety—
One geek (BC), his plain delight—
One world changed aplenty! J anuary 2002
2.1) Pyt hagor as and t he Fi r st Pr oof
Pythagoras was not the first in antiquity to know
about the remarkable theorem that bears his name, but he
was the first to formally prove it using deductive geometry
and the first to actively ‘market’ it (using today’s terms)
throughout the ancient world. One of the earliest indicators
showing knowledge of the relationship between right
triangles and side lengths is a hieroglyphic-style picture,
Figu r e 2 . 1 , of a knotted rope having twelve equally-spaced
knots.
Figu r e 2 . 1 : Egypt ia n Kn ot t e d Rope , Cir c a 2 0 0 0 BCE
28
The rope was shown in a context suggesting its use as a
workman’s tool for creating right angles, done via the
fashioning of a 3-4-5 right triangle. Thus, the Egyptians
had a mechanical device for demonstrating the converse of
the Pythagorean Theorem for the 3-4-5 special case:
0 2 2 2
90 5 4 3 = ¬ = +  .
Not only did the Egyptians know of specific
instances of the Pythagorean Theorem, but also the
Babylonians and Chinese some 1000 years before
Pythagoras definitively institutionalized the general result
circa 500 BCE. And to be fair to the Egyptians, Pythagoras
himself, who was born on the island of Samos in 572 BCE,
traveled to Egypt at the age of 23 and spent 21 years there
as a student before returning to Greece. While in Egypt,
Pythagoras studied a number of things under the guidance
of Egyptian priests, including geometry. Ta ble 2 . 1 briefly
summarizes what is known about the Pythagorean Theorem
before Pythagoras.
Da t e Cu lt u r e Pe r s on Evide n c e
2000
BCE
Egyptian Unknown
Workman’s rope for
fashioning a
3-4-5 triangle
1500
BCE
Babylonian
&
Chaldean
Unknown
Rules for right
triangles written on
clay tablets along
with geometric
diagrams
1100
BCE
Chinese
Tschou-
Gun
Written geometric
characterizations of
right angles
520
BCE
Greek Pythagoras
Generalized result
and deductively
proved
Ta ble 2 . 1 : Pr i or t o Pyt h a gor a s
29
The proof Pythagoras is thought to have actually
used is shown in Figu r e 2 . 2 . It is a visual proof in that no
algebraic language is used to support numerically the
deductive argument. In the top diagram, the ancient
observer would note that removing the eight congruent right
triangles, four from each identical master square, brings the
magnificent sum-of-squares equality into immediate view.
Figu r e 2 . 2 : Th e Fir s t Pr oof by Pyt h a gor a s
¹
+
30
Figu r e 2 . 3 is another original, visual proof
attributed to Pythagoras. Modern mathematicians would
say that this proof is more ‘elegant’ in that the same
deductive message is conveyed using one less triangle. Even
today, ‘elegance’ in proof is measured in terms of logical
conciseness coupled with the amount insight provided by
the conciseness. Without any further explanation on my
part, the reader is invited to engage in the mental deductive
gymnastics needed to derive the sum-of-squares equality
from the diagram below.
Figu r e 2 . 3 : An Alt e r n a t e Vis u a l Pr oof by Pyt h a gor a s
Neither of Pythagoras’ two visual proofs requires the
use of an algebraic language as we know it. Algebra in its
modern form as a precise language of numerical
quantification wasn’t fully developed until the Renaissance.
The branch of mathematics that utilizes algebra to facilitate
the understanding and development of geometric concepts
is known as analy tic geometry . Analytic geometry allows for
a deductive elegance unobtainable by the use of visual
geometry alone. Figu r e 2 . 4 is the square-within-the-square
(as first fashioned by Pythagoras) where the length of each
triangular side is algebraically annotated just one time.
31
Figu r e 2 . 4 : An n ot a t e d Squ a r e wit h in a Squ a r e
The proof to be shown is called a dis s ection proof due to the
fact that the larger square has been dissected into five
smaller pieces. In all dissection proofs, our arbitrary right
triangle, shown on the left, is at least one of the pieces. One
of the two keys leading to a successful dissection proof is
the writing of the total area in two different algebraic ways:
as a singular unit and as the sum of the areas associated
with the individual pieces. The other key is the need to
utilize each critical right triangle dimension—a , b, c —at
least once in writing the two expressions for area. Once the
two expressions are written, algebraic simplification will
lead (hopefully) to the Pythagorean Theorem. Let us start
our proof. The first step is to form the two expressions for
area.
) ( 4
) ( 4
& ) ( :
2
1
2
2
1
ab c A
A A A
b a A
bigsquare
e onetriangl re littlesqua bigsquare
bigsquare
+ =
¬ · + =
+ = 
The second step is to equate these expressions and
algebraically simplify.
= +
¬ + = + +
¬ + = +
2 2 2
2 2 2
2
1
2 2
2
2 2
) ( 4 ) ( :
c b a
ab c b ab a
ab c b a
set

c
a
b
b
c
32
Notice how quickly and easily our result is obtained once
algebraic is used to augment the geometric picture. Simply
put, algebra coupled with geometry is superior to geometry
alone in quantifying and tracking the diverse and subtle
relationships between geometric whole and the assorted
pieces. Hence, throughout the remainder of the book,
analytic geometry will be used to help prove and develop
results as much as possible.
Since the larger square in Figu r e 2 . 4 is dissected
into five smaller pieces, we will say that this is a Dissection
Order V (DRV) proof. It is a good proof in that all three
critical dimensions—a , b, c —and only thes e dimens ions are
used to verify the result. This proof is the proof most
commonly used when the Pythagorean Theorem is first
introduced. As we have seen, the origins of this proof can be
traced to Pythagoras himself.
We can convey the proof in simpler fashion by
simply showing the square-within-the-square diagram
(Figu r e 2 . 5 ) and the associated algebraic development
below unencumbered by commentary. Here forward, this
will be our standard way of presenting smaller and more
obvious proofs and/or developments.
Figu r e 2 . 5 : Al ge br a ic For m of t h e Fir s t Pr oof
= + ¬ + = + + ¬
+ = +
+ = + =
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
1
2 2
2
2
1
2 2
1
2 2
) ( 4 ) ( :
) ( 4 & ) ( :
c b a ab c b ab a
ab c b a
ab c A b a A
set


c
a
b
33
Figu r e 2 . 6 is the diagram for a second not-so-obvious
dissection proof where a rectangle encloses the basic right
triangle as shown. The three triangles comprising the
rectangle are similar (left to reader to show), allowing the
unknown dimensions x, y, z to be solved via similarity
principles in terms of a , b, and c . Once we have x, y, and z
in hand, the proof proceeds as a normal dissection.
Figu r e 2 . 6 : A Re c t a n gu la r Dis s e c t i on Pr oof
= +
¬ = + ¬ + =
¬
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
+ + = ¬
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
+ + =
¬
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
+ + =
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
+ + =
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
· + + · =
=
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
=
= ¬ =
= ¬ = = ¬ =
2 2 2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
2
2
2
2 2 2
2
1
3
2
2
2
1
1 1
1 2 1 2
1
2
:
1
2
:
:
,& , :
c b a
c
a
c
b
c
a
c
b
c
a
c
b
c
a
c
b
ab ab
c
a
c
b ab
ab
c
a
c
b ab
c
a
c
ab
ab
c
b
c
ab
A
ab
c
ab
c A
c
a
z
c
a
a
z
c
b
y
c
b
b
y
c
ab
x
c
a
b
x
set




c
x b
y
a
z
34
As the reader can immediately discern, this proof, a
DRIII, is not visually apparent. Algebra must be used along
with the diagram in order to quantify the needed
relationships and carry the proof to completion.
Note: This is not a good proof for beginning s tudents —s ay y our
average eighth or ninth grader—for two reas ons . One, the algebra is
s omew hat extens ive. Two, derived and not intuitively obvious
quantities repres enting various lengths are utiliz ed to formulate the
various areas . Thus , the original Py thagorean proof remains
s uperior for introductory purpos es .
Our last proof in this section is a four-step DRV
developed by a college student, Michelle Watkins (1997),
which also requires similarity principles to carry the proof
to completion. Figu r e 2 . 7 shows our two fundamental,
congruent right triangles where a heavy dashed line
outlines the second triangle. The lighter dashed line
completes a master triangle ABC A for which we will
compute the area two using different methods. The reader is
to verif y that each right triangle created by the merger of the
congruent right triangles is s imilar to the original right
triangle.
Step 1 is to compute the length of line segment x
using similarity principles. The two distinct area
calculations in Steps 2 and 3 result from viewing the master
triangle as either ABC A or CBA A . Step 4 sets the equality
and completes the proof.
Figu r e 2 . 7 : Twin Tr ia n gle Pr oof
c
a
b
x
A B
C
35
= + ¬ + =
¬ + =
+ =
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦ +
= A
¬
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
+ = A
= = A
= ¬ =
2 2 2 2 2 2
2 2
2
1
2
2
1
4
2 2
2
1
2 2
2
1
2
2
1
3
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
} { :
} { ) ( ) (
) ( ) ( :
) )( ( ) ( :
:
c b a b a c
b a c
b a
a
b a
a ABC Area
a
b
a a ABC Area
c c c CBA Area
a
b
x
a
b
b
x
set




One of the interesting features of this proof is that
even though it is a DRV, the five individual areas were not
all needed in order to compute the area associated with
triangle ABC in two different ways. However, some areas
were critical in a construction sense in that they allowed for
the determination of the critical parameter x. Other areas
traveled along as excess baggage so to speak. Hence, we
could characterize this proof as elegant but a tad inefficient.
However, our Twin Triangle Proof did allow for the
introduction of the construction principle, a principle that
Euclid exploited fully in his great Windmill Proof, the
subject of our next section.
36
2.2) Euc l i d’s Wonder f ul Wi ndmi l l
Euclid, along with Archimedes and Apollonius, is
considered one of the three great mathematicians of
antiquity. All three men were Greeks, and Euclid was the
earliest, having lived from approximately 330BCE to
275BCE. Euclid was the first master mathematics teacher
and pedagogist. He wrote down in logical systematic fashion
all that was known about plane geometry, solid geometry,
and number theory during his time. The result is a treatise
known as The Elements, a work that consists of 13 books
and 465 propositions. Euclid’s The Elements is one of most
widely read books of all times. Great minds throughout
twenty-three centuries (e.g. Bertrand Russell in the 20
th
century) have been initiated into the power of critical
thinking by its wondrous pages.
Figu r e 2 . 8 : Eu c lid’s Wi n dmill wit h ou t An n ot a t i on
37
Euclid’s proof of the Pythagorean Theorem (Book 1,
Proposition 47) is commonly known as the Windmill Proof
due to the stylized windmill appearance of the associated
intricate geometric diagram, Figu r e 2 . 8 .
Note: I think of it as more Art Deco.
There is some uncertainty whether or not Euclid was
the actual originator of the Windmill Proof, but that is really
of secondary importance. The important thing is that Euclid
captured it in all of elegant step-by-step logical elegance via
The Elements. The Windmill Proof is best characterized as a
construction proof as apposed to a dissection proof. In
Figu r e 2 . 8 , the six ‘extra’ lines—five dashed and one solid—
are inserted to generate additional k ey geometric objects
within the diagram needed to prove the result. Not all
geometric objects generated by the inters ecting lines are
needed to actualiz e the proof . Hence, to characterize the
associated proof as a DRXX (the reader is invited to verify
this last statement) is a bit unfair.
How and when the Windmill Proof first came into
being is a topic for historical speculation. Figu r e 2 . 9
reflects my personal view on how this might have happened.
Figu r e 2 . 9 : Pon de r in g Squ a r e s a n d Re c t a n gle s
38
First, three squares were constructed, perhaps by
the old compass and straightedge, from the three sides of
our standard right triangle as shown in Figu r e 2 . 9 . The
resulting structure was then leveled on the hypotenuse
square in a horizontal position. The stroke of intuitive
genius was the creation of the additional line emanating
from the vertex angle and parallel to the vertical sides of the
square. So, with this in view, what exactly was the beholder
suppose to behold?
My own intuition tells me that two complimentary
observations were made: 1) the area of the lightly-shaded
square and rectangle are identical and 2) the area of the
non-shaded square and rectangle are identical. Perhaps
both observations started out as nothing more than a
curious conjecture. However, subsequent measurements for
specific cases turned conjecture into conviction and
initiated the quest for a general proof. Ancient Greek genius
finally inserted (period of time unknown) two additional
dashed lines and annotated the resulting diagram as shown
in Figu r e 2 . 1 0 . Euclid’s proof follows on the next page.
Figu r e 2 . 1 0 : An n ot a t e d Win dmill
I
H
F
E
D
C B A
G
J
K
39
First we establish that the two triangles IJ D and GJ A are
congruent.
) ( 2 ) ( 2
) ( ) (
:
,& , :
2
1
GJA Area IJD Area
GJA Area IJD Area
GJA IJD
GJA IJD
GJA IJD JA JD JG IJ
A = A
¬ A = A
¬ A ~ A
A ~ A
¬ Z = Z = =


The next step is to establish that the area of the square
IJ GH is double the area of IJD A . This is done by carefully
observing the length of the base and associated altitude for
each. Equivalently, we do a similar procedure for rectangle
J ABK and GJA A .
Thus:
) ( ) ( :
) ( 2 ) ( :
) ( 2 ) ( :
5
4
3
JABK Area IJGH Area
GJA Area JABK Area
IJD Area IJGH Area
=
A =
A =



.
The equivalency of the two areas associated with the square
GDEF and rectangle BCDK is established in like fashion
(necessitating the drawing of two more dashed lines as
previously shown in Figu r e 2 . 8 ). With this last result, we
have enough information to bring to completion Euclid’s
magnificent proof.
= +
¬ +
= +
) ( ) ( ) (
) ( ) (
) ( ) ( :
6
ACDJ Area GDEF Area IJGH Area
BCDK Area JABK Area
GDEF Area IJGH Area 
Modern analytic geometry greatly facilitates Euclid’s
central argument. Figu r e 2 . 1 1 is a much-simplified
windmill with only key dimensional lengths annotated.
40
Figu r e 2 . 1 1 : Wi n dmill Ligh t
The analytic-geometry proof below rests on the
central fact that the two right triangles created by the
insertion of the perpendicular bisector are both similar to
the original right triangle. First, we establish the equality of
the two areas associated with the lightly shaded square and
rectangle via the following logic sequence:
{ }
shadedrect re shadedsqua
shadedrect
re shadedsqua
A A
a c
c
a
A
a A
c
a
x
c
a
a
x
=
= =
=
= ¬ =
4
2
2
3
2
2
2
1
:
:
:
:




.
Likewise, for the non-shaded square and rectangle:
b a
c
y x
41
c
b
y
c
b
b
y
2
1
: = ¬ = 
{ }
ct unshadedre uare unshadedsq
ct unshadedre
uare unshadedsq
A A
b c
c
b
A
b A
=
= =
=
4
2
2
3
2
2
:
:
:



Putting the two pieces together (quite literally), we have:
= + ¬ + =
¬ =
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
1
:
c b a b a c
c A
bigsquare

.
The reader probably has discerned by now that
similarity arguments play a key role in many proofs of the
Pythagorean Theorem. This is indeed true. In fact, proof by
s imilarity can be thought of a major subcategory just like
proof by dis s ection or proof by cons truction. Proof by
vis ualiz ation is also a major subcategory requiring crystal-
clear, additive dissections in order to make the Pythagorean
Theorem visually obvious without the help of analytic
geometry. Similarity proofs were first exploited in wholesale
fashion by Legendre, a Frenchman that had the full power
of analytic geometry at his disposal. In Section 2.7, we will
further reduce Euclid’s Windmill to its primal bare-bones
form via similarity as first exploited by Legendre.
Note: More complicated proofs of the Py thagorean Theorem us ually
are a hy brid of s everal approaches . The proof jus t given can be
thought of as a combination of cons truction, dis s ection, and
s imilarity . Since s imilarity w as the driving element in forming the
argument, I would primarily characteriz e it as a s imilarity proof .
Others may characteris tic it as a cons truction proof s ince no
argument is pos s ible without the ins ertion of the perpendicular
bis ector. Nonetheles s , creation of a perpendicular bis ection creates a
dis s ection es s ential to the f inal addition of s quares and rectangles !
Bottom line: all things act together in concert.
42
We close this section with a complete restatement of the
Pythagorean Theorem as found in Chapter 2, but now with
the inclusion of the converse relationship
0 2 2 2
90 = ¬ = +  C B A . Euclid’s subtle proof of the
Pythagorean Converse follows (Book 1 of The Elements,
Proposition 48).
Th e Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m a n d
Pyt h a gor e a n Con ve r s e
Suppose we have a triangle with side lengths
and angles labeled as shown below.
Then:
2 2 2
C B A = + · = +   
Figu r e 2 . 1 2 on the next page shows Euclid’s original
construction used to prove the Pythagorean Converse. The
shaded triangle conforms to the hypothesis
where
2 2 2
C B A = + by design. From the intentional design,
one is to show or deduce that     = + ¬ =
0
90 in order
to prove the converse.
Note: the ancients and even s ome of my f ormer public-s chool
teachers would have s aid ‘by cons truction’ ins tead of ‘by des ign.’
How ever, the y ear is 2008, not 1958, and the word des ign s eems to
be a s uperior convey or of the intended meaning.
A
B
C



43
Figu r e 2 . 1 2 : Eu c lid’s Con ve r s e Dia gr a m
Euclid’s first step was to construct a line segment of
length ' B where B B = ' . Then, this line segment was joined
as shown to the shaded triangle in such a fashion that the
corner angle that mirrors  was indeed a right angle of
0
90
measure—again by design! Euclid then added a second line
of unknown length X in order to complete a companion
triangle with common vertical side as shown in Figu r e
2 . 1 2 . Euclid finally used a formal verbally-descriptive logic
stream quite similar to the annotated algebraic logic stream
below in order to complete his proof.
Algebraic Logic Verbal Annotation
2 2 2
1
: C B A = +  1] By hypothesis
' :
2
B B =  2] By design
0
3
90 ' : = Z A B  3] By design
2 2 2
4
) ' ( : X B A = +  4] Pythagorean Theorem

C X
C X
B A X
B A X
=
¬ =
¬ + =
¬ + =
2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
5
) ' ( : 
5] Properties of algebraic
equality
A
B


' B
0
90
C

X
44
X AB ABC ' :
6
A ~ A  6] The three corresponding
sides are equal in length (SSS)

0
7
90 : =   7] The triangles ABC A and
X AB' A are congruent

= +
¬ = +
¬ = + +
¬ = + +
  
 
 
  
0
0 0
0
8
90
180 90
180 : 
8] Properties of algebraic
equality
We close this section by simply admiring the simple and
profound algebraic symmetry of the Pythagorean Theorem
and its converse as ‘chiseled’ below
2 2 2
C B A = + · = +   
B
C



A
45
2.3) Li u Hui Pac ks t he Squar es
Liu Hui was a Chinese philosopher and
mathematician that lived in the third century ACE. By that
time, the great mathematical ideas of the Greeks would
have traveled the Silk Road to China and visa-versa, with
the cross-fertilization of two magnificent cultures enhancing
the further global development of mathematics. As just
described, two pieces of evidence strongly suggest that
indeed this was the case.
Figu r e 2 . 1 3 is Liu Hui’s exquisite diagram
associated with his vis ual proof of the Pythagorean
Theorem.
Figu r e 2 . 1 3 : Liu Hu i’s Dia gr a m wit h Te mp la t e
46
In it, one clearly sees the Greek influence of Pythagoras and
Euclid. However, one also sees much, much more: a more
intricate and clever visual demonstration of the
‘Pythagorean Proposition’ than those previously
accomplished.
Note: Elis ha Loomis , a f ellow Ohioan, whom we s hall meet in
Section 2.10, firs t us ed the expres s ion ‘Py thagorean Propos ition’
over a century ago.
Is Liu Hui’s diagram best characterized as a
dissection (a humongous DRXIIII not counting the black
right triangle) or a construction?
Figu r e 2 . 1 4 : Pa c k in g Two Squ a r e s in t o On e
We will say neither although the diagram has
elements of both. Liu Hui’s proof is best characterized as a
pack ing proof in that the two smaller squares have been
dissected in such a fashion as to allow them to pack
themselves into the larger square, Figu r e 2 . 1 4 . Some years
ago when our youngest son was still living at home, we
bought a Game Boy™ and gave it to him as a Christmas
present. In time, I took a liking to it due to the nifty puzzle
games.
47
One of my favorites was Boxel™, a game where the player
had to pack boxes into a variety of convoluted warehouse
configurations. In a sense, I believe this is precisely what
Liu Hui did: he perceived the Pythagorean Proposition as a
packing problem and succeeded to solve the problem by the
masterful dismemberment and reassembly as shown above.
In the s pirit of Liu Hui, actual s tep-by -s tep conf irmation of the
‘pack ing of the pieces ’ is lef t to the reader as a challenging
vis ual exercis e.
Note: One could s ay that Euclid s ucceeded in pack ing tw o s quares
into two rectangles , the s um of which equaled the s quare formed on
the hy potenus e.
So what might have been the origin of Liu Hui’s
packing idea? Why did Liu Hui use such odd-shaped pieces,
especially the two obtuse, scalene triangles? Finally, why
did Liu Hui dissect the three squares into exactly fourteen
pieces as opposed to twenty? Archimedes (287BCE-
212BCE), a Greek and one of the three greatest
mathematicians of all time—Isaac Newton and Karl Gauss
being the other two—may provide some possible answers.
Archimedes is commonly credited (rightly or
wrongly) with a puzzle known by two names, the
Archimedes’ Square or the Stomachion, Figu r e 2 . 1 5 on the
next page. In the Stomachion, a 12 by 12 square grid is
expertly dissected into 14 polygonal playing pieces where
each piece has an integral area. Each of the fourteen pieces
is labeled with two numbers. The first is the number of the
piece and the second is the associated area. Two views of
the Stomachion are provided in Figu r e 2 . 1 5 , an ‘artist’s
concept’ followed by an ‘engineering drawing’. I would like
to think that the Stomachion somehow played a key role in
Liu Hui’s development of his magnificent packing solution
to the Pythagorean Proposition. Archimedes’ puzzle could
have traveled the Silk Road to China and eventually found
its way into the hands of another ancient and great out-of-
the-box thinker!
48
Figu r e 2 . 1 5 : Th e St oma c h i on Cr e a t e d by Ar c h ime de s
1
1 , 1 2
3 , 1 2
2 , 1 2
5 , 3
6 , 2 1
7 , 6
8 , 1 2
9 , 2 4
1 0 , 3
1 2 , 6
1 3 , 6
1 4 , 1 2
1 1 , 9
4 , 6
1
49
2.4) Kur r ah Tr ansf or ms t he Br i de’s Chai r
Our youngest son loved Transformers™ as a child,
and our oldest son was somewhat fond of them too. For
those of you who may not remember, a transformer is a
mechanical toy that can take on a variety of shapes—e.g.
from truck to robot to plane to boat—depending how you
twist and turn the various appendages. The idea of
transforming shapes into shapes is not new, even though
the 1970s brought renewed interest in the form of highly
marketable toys for the children of Baby Boomers. Even
today, a new league of Generation X parents are digging in
their pockets and shelling out some hefty prices for those
irresistible Transformers™.
Thabit ibn Kurrah (836-901), a Turkish-born
mathematician and astronomer, lived in Baghdad during
Islam’s Era of Enlightenment paralleling Europe’s Dark
Ages. Kurrah (also Qurra or Qorra) developed a clever and
original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem along with a non-
right triangle extension of the same (Section 3.6) Kurrah’s
proof has been traditionally classified as a dissection proof.
Then again, Kurrah’s proof can be equally classified as a
trans former proof . Let’s have a look.
Figu r e 2 . 1 6 : Ku r r a h Cr e a t e s t h e Br id e ’s Ch a ir
¬
The Bride’s Chair
+
50
Figu r e 2 . 1 6 shows Kurrah’s creation of the Bride’s
Chair. The process is rather simple, but shows Kurrah’s
intimate familiarity with our fundamental Pythagorean
geometric structure on the left. Four pieces comprise the
basic structure and these are pulled apart and rearranged
as depicted. The key rearrangement is the one on the top
right that reassembles the two smaller squares into a new
configuration known as the bride’s chair. Where the name
‘Bride’s Chair’ originated is a matter for speculation;
personally, I think the chair-like structure looks more like a
Lazy Boy™.
Now what? Kurrah had a packing problem—two
little squares to be packed into one big square—which he
cleverly solved by the following dissection and subsequent
transformation. Figu r e 2 . 1 7 pictorially captures Kurrah’s
dilemma, and his key dissection that allowed the
transformation to proceed.
Figu r e 2 . 1 7 : Pa c k in g t h e Br ide ’s Ch a ir i n t o
Th e Big Squ a r e
What Kurrah did was to replicate the shaded triangle and
use it to frame two cutouts on the Bride’s Chair as shown.
Figu r e 2 . 1 8 is ‘Operation Transformation’ showing
Kurrah’s rotational sequence that leads to a successful
packing of the large square.
¬
The Bride’s Chair
?
!
51
Note: as is the occas ional cus tom in this volume, the reader is as k ed
to s upply all dimens ional details k nowing that the diagram is
dimens ionally correct. I am convinced that Kurrah hims elf would
have demanded the s ame.
Figu r e 2 . 1 8 : Ku r r a h ’s Ope r a t ion Tr a n s for ma t ion
As Figu r e 2 . 1 8 clearly illustrates, Kurrah took a cleverly
dissected Bride’s Chair and masterfully packed it into the
big square though a sequence of rotations akin to those
employed by the toy Transformers™ of today—a
demonstration of pure genius!
P is a fixed
pivot point
¹
!
P
¹
!
P
P
!
P
P
P
52
The Bride’s Chair and Kurrah’s subsequent
dissection has long been the source for a little puzzle that
has found its way into American stores for at least forty
years. I personally dub this puzzle ‘The Devil’s Teeth’,
Figu r e 2 . 1 9 . As one can see, it nothing more than the
Bride’s Chair cut into four pieces, two of which are identical
right triangles. The two remaining pieces are arbitrarily cut
from the residual of the Bride’s Chair. Figu r e 2 . 1 9 depicts
two distinct versions of ‘The Devil’s Teeth’.
Figu r e 2 . 1 9 : ‘Th e De vil’s Te e t h ’
The name ‘Devil’s Teeth’ is obvious: the puzzle is a devilish
one to reassemble. If one adds a little mysticism about the
significance of the number four, you probably got a winner
on your hands. In clos ing, I can imagine Paul Harvey doing a
radio s pot f ocus ing on Kurrah, the Bride’s Chair, and the
thous and-y ear-old Trans f ormers ™ proof . Af ter the
commercial break , he des cribes ‘The Devil’s Teeth’ and the
s ucces s f ul mark eter who s tarted this bus ines s out of a
garage. “And that is the res t of the s tory . Good day .”
Note: I pers onally remember this puz z le from the early 1960s .
53
2.5) Bhaskar a Unl eashes t he Power of Al gebr a
We first met Bhaskara in Chapter 2. He was the 12
th
century (circa 1115 to 1185) Indian mathematician who
drew the top diagram shown in Figu r e 2 . 2 0 and simply
said, “Behold!”, completing his proof of the Pythagorean
Theorem. However, legend has a way of altering details and
fish stories often times get bigger. Today, what is commonly
ascribed to Bhaskara’s “Behold!” is nothing more than the
non-annotated square donut in the lower diagram. I, f or
one, have a very hard time beholding exactly what I am
s uppos e to behold when viewing the non-annotated s quare
donut. Appealing to Paul Harvey’s famous radio format a
second time, perhaps there is more to this story. There is.
Bhaskara had at his disposal a well-developed algebraic
language, a language that allowed him to capture precisely
via analytic geometry those truths that descriptive geometry
alone could not easily convey.
Figu r e 2 . 2 0 : Tr u t h Ve r s u s Le ge n d
54
What Bhaskara most likely did as an accomplished
algebraist was to annotate the lower figure as shown again
in Figu r e 2 . 2 1 . The former proof easily follows in a few
steps using analytic geometry. Finally, we are ready for the
famous “Behold! as Bhaskara’s magnificent DRV
Pythagorean proof unfolds before our eyes.
Figu r e 2 . 2 1 : Bh a s k a r a ’s Re a l Powe r
= + ¬ + =
¬ + + ÷ =
¬ + ÷ =
+ ÷ =
¬ · + =
=
2 2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2
1
2 2
2
2
1
2
2
1
2 2
) ( 4 ) ( :
) ( 4 ) (
) ( 4
& :
c b a b a c
ab b ab a c
ab b a c
ab b a A
A A A
c A
set
bigsquare
e onetriangl re littlesqua bigsquare
bigsquare


Bhaskara’s proof is minimal in that the large square has
the smallest possible linear dimension, namely c . It also
utilizes the three fundamental dimensions—a , b, & c —as
they naturally occur with no scaling or proportioning. The
tricky part is size of the donut hole, which Bhaskara’s use
of analytic geometry easily surmounts. Thus, only one word
remains to describe this historic first—behold!
a
b
c
55
2.6 ) Leonar do da Vi nc i ’s Magni f i c ent Symmet r y
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was born in
Anchiano, Italy. In his 67 years, Leonardo became an
accomplished painter, architect, designer, engineer, and
mathematician. If alive today, the whole world would
recognize Leonardo as ‘world class’ in all the
aforementioned fields. It would be as if Stephen Hawking
and Stephen Spielberg were both joined into one person.
For this reason, Leonardo da Vinci is properly characterized
as the first and greatest Renaissance man. The world has
not seen his broad-ranging intellectual equivalent since!
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Leonardo da Vinci,
the eclectic master of many disciplines, would have
thoroughly studied and concocted an independent proof of
the Pythagorean Theorem.
Figu r e 2 . 2 2 is the diagram that Leonardo used to
demonstrate his proof of the Pythagorean Proposition. The
added dotted lines are used to show that the right angle of
the fundamental right triangle is bisected by the solid line
joining the two opposite corners of the large dotted square
enclosing the lower half of the diagram. Alternately, the two
dotted circles can also be used to show the same (reader
exercise).
Figu r e 2 . 2 2 : Le on a r do da Vin c i’s Sym me t r y Dia gr a m
56
Figu r e 2 . 2 3 is the six-step sequence that visually
demonstrates Leonardo’s proof. The critical step is Step 5
where the two figures are acknowledged by the observer to
be equivalent in area. Step 6 immediately follows.
Figu r e 2 . 2 3 : Da Vin c i’s Pr oof in Se qu e n c e
1

2

3

4

5

6

= =
57
In Figu r e 2 . 2 4 , we enlarge Step 5 and annotate the critical
internal equalities. Figu r e 2 . 2 4 also depicts the subtle
rotational symmetry between the two figures by labeling the
pivot point P for an out-of-plane rotation where the lower
half of the top diagram is rotated
0
180 in order to match
the bottom diagram. The reader is to supply the supporting
rationale. While doing so, take time to reflect on the subtle
and brilliant genius of the Renaissance master—Leonardo
da Vinci!
Figu r e 2 . 2 4 : Su bt le Rot a t ion a l Symm e t r y
=
b
c
a a
b
0
45
0
45
bc Z
bc Z
ca Z
ca Z
c
a
b
0
45
0
45
bc Z
bc Z
ca Z
ca Z
c
b
a
P
58
2.7) Legendr e Expl oi t s Embedded Si mi l ar i t y
Adrian Marie Legendre was a well-known French
mathematician born at Toulouse in 1752. He died at Paris
in 1833. Along with Lagrange and Laplace, Legendre can be
considered on of the three fathers of modern analytic
geometry, a geometry that incorporates all the inherent
power of both algebra and calculus. With much of his life’s
work devoted to the new analytic geometry, it should come
as no surprise that Legendre should be credited with a
powerful, simple and thoroughly modern—for the time—
new proof of the Pythagorean Proposition. Legendre’s proof
starts with the Windmill Light (Figu r e 2 . 1 1 ). Legendre then
pared it down to the diagram shown in Figu r e 2 . 2 5 .
Figu r e 2 . 2 5 : Le ge n dr e ’s Dia gr a m
He then demonstrated that the two right triangles formed by
dropping a perpendicular from the vertex angle to the
hypotenuse are both similar to the master triangle. Armed
with this knowledge, a little algebra finished the job.
= + ¬ = +
¬ = +
= ¬ =
= ¬ =
2 2 2
2 2
3
2
2
2
1
:
:
:
c b a c
c
b
c
a
c y x
c
b
y
c
b
b
y
c
a
x
c
a
a
x



Notice that this is the first proof in our historical sequence
lacking an obvious visual component.
b a
c
y x
59
But, this is precisely the nature of algebra and analytic
geometry where abstract ideas are more precisely (and
abstractly) conveyed than by descriptive (visual) geometry
alone. The downside is that visual intuition plays a minimal
role as similarity arguments produce the result via a few
algebraic pen strokes. Thus, this is not a suitable beginner’s
proof.
Similarity proofs have been presented throughout
this chapter, but Legendre’s is historically the absolute
minimum in terms of both geometric augmentation (the
drawing of additional construction lines, etc.) and algebraic
terseness. Thus, it is included as a major milestone in our
survey of Pythagorean proofs. To summarize, Legendre’s
proof can be characterized as an embedded similarity proof
where two smaller triangles are created by the dropping of
just one perpendicular from the vertex of the master
triangle. All three triangles—master and the two created—
are mutually similar. Algebra and similarity principles
complete the argument in a masterful and modern way.
Note: as a dis s ection proof, Legendre’s proof could be characteriz ed
as a DRII, but the vis ual dis s ection is us eles s without the pow erful
help of algebra, es s ential to the completion of the argument.
Not all similarity proofs rely on complicated ratios
such as c a x /
2
= to evaluate constructed linear
dimensions in terms of the three primary quantities a , b, &
c . Figu r e 2 . 2 6 is the diagram recently used (2002) by J.
Barry Sutton to prove the Pythagorean Proposition using
similarity principles with minimally altered primary
quantities.
Figu r e 2 . 2 6 Ba r r y Su t t on ’s Dia gr a m
b a
c -b
Circle of radius b
E
A C B D
b b
c
6 0
We end Section 2.7 by presenting Barry’s proof in
step-by-step fashion so that the reader will get a sense of
what formal geometric logic streams look like, as they are
found in modern geometry textbooks at the high school or
college level.

1
:  Construct right triangle AEC A with sides a , b, c .

2
:  Construct circle Cb centered at C with radius b.

3
:  Construct triangle BED A with hypotenuse 2 b.
A = A right BED
4
:  By inscribed triangle theorem since
the hypotenuse for BED A equals and
exactly overlays the diameter for Cb
CED AEB Z = Z
5
:  The same common angle BEC Z is
subtracted from the right angles
AEC Z and BED Z
CDE CED Z = Z
6
:  The triangle CED A is isosceles.
CDE AEB Z = Z
7
:  Transitivity of equality
AED AEB A ~ A
8
:  The angle DAE Z is common to both
triangles and CDE AEB Z = Z . Hence
the third angle is equal and similarity
is assured by AAA.
With the critical geometric s imilarity f irmly es tablis hed by
traditional logic, Barry f inis hes his proof with an algebraic
coup-de-grace that is ty pical of the modern approach!

= + ¬ ÷ =
¬ ÷ + =
¬
÷
=
+
¬ =
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
9
) )( (
:
c b a b c a
b c b c a
a
b c
b c
a
AE
AB
AD
AE

Equality of similar ratios
6 1
2.8) Henr y Per i gal ’s Tombst one
Henry Perigal was an amateur mathematician and
astronomer who spent most of his long life (1801-1898)
near London, England. Perigal was an accountant by trade,
but stargazing and mathematics was his passion. He was a
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and treasurer of
the Royal Meteorological Society. Found of geometric
dissections, Perigal developed a novel proof of the
Pythagorean Theorem in 1830 based on a rather intricate
dissection, one not as transparent to the casual observer
when compared to some of the proofs from antiquity. Henry
must have considered his proof of the Pythagorean Theorem
to be the crowning achievement of his life, for the diagram
is chiseled on his tombstone, Figu r e 2 . 2 7 . Notice the clever
use of key letters found in his name: H, P, R, G, and L.
Figu r e 2 . 2 7 : Dia gr a m on He n r y Pe r i ga l’s Tombs t on e
AB
2
=AC
2
+CB
2
DISCOVERED BY H. P.
1 8 3 0
L
C
R
H
H
P
G
B A
G
R
L
P
6 2
In Figu r e 2 . 2 8 , we update the annotations used by Henry
and provide some key geometric information on his overall
construction.
Figu r e 2 . 2 8 : An n ot a t e d Pe r iga l Dia gr a m
We are going to leave the proof to the reader as a challenge.
Central to the Perigal argument is the fact that all eight of
the constructed quadrilaterals are congruent. This
immediately leads to fact that the middle square embedded
in the ‘c ’ square is identical to the ‘a ’ square from which
2 2 2
c b a = + can be established.
Perigal’s proof has since been cited as one of the
most ingenious examples of a proof associated with a
phenomenon that modern mathematicians call a
Pythagorean Tiling.
I H
C F
Master right
triangle a , b, c
D
B
A G
E
b a
c
b
2
b
2
Each line segment is
constructed from the
midpoint of a side
and runs parallel to
the corresponding
side of the ‘b’ square.
This is the center of
the ‘a ’ square. The
two cross lines run
parallel to the
corresponding sides
of the ‘c ’ square.
All eight
constructed
quadrilaterals are
congruent
6 3
In the century following Perigal, both Pythagorean Tiling
and tiling phenomena in general were extensively studied
by mathematicians resulting in two fascinating discoveries:
1] Py thagorean Tiling guaranteed that the exis tence of
countles s dis s ection proof s of the Py thagorean Theorem.
2] Many previous dis s ection proof s were in actuality s imple
variants of each, ines capably link ed by Py thagorean Tiling.
Gone forever was the keeping count of the number of proofs
of the Pythagorean Theorem! For classical dissections, the
continuing quest for new proofs became akin to writing the
numbers from 567 , 234 , 1 to 567 , 334 , 1 . People started to
ask, what is the point other than garnering a potential entry
in the Guinness Book of World Records? As we continue
our Pythagorean journey, keep in mind Henry Perigal, for it
was he (albeit unknowingly) that opened the door to this
more general way of thinking.
Note: Elis ha Loomis whom we s hall meet in Section 2.10, publis hed
a book in 1927 entitled The Py thagorean Propos ition, in which he
details over 350 original proofs of the Py thagore an Theorem.
We are now going to examine Perigal’s novel proof
and quadrilateral filling using the modern methods
associated with Pythagorean Tiling, an example of which is
shown in Figu r e 2 . 2 9 on the next page. From Figu r e 2 . 2 9 ,
we see that three items comprise a Pythagorean Tiling
where each item is generated, either directly or indirectly,
from the master right triangle.
1) The Bride’s Chair, w hich s erves as a bas ic tes s ellation
unit w hen repeatedly draw n.
2) The mas ter right triangle its elf , which s erves as an
‘anchor-point’ s ome where within the tes s ellation pattern.
3) A s quare cutting grid, aligned as s hown with the
triangular anchor point. The length of each line s egment
within the grid equals the length of the hy potenus e f or the
mas ter triangle. Theref ore, the area of each s quare hole
equals the area of the s quare f ormed on the hy pot enus e.
6 4
Figu r e 2 . 2 9 : An Exa mple of Pyt h a gor e a n Tilin g
As Figu r e 2 . 2 9 illustrates, the square cutting grid
immediately visualizes the cuts needed in order to dissect
and pack the two smaller squares into the hypotenuse
square, given a particular placement of the black triangle.
Figu r e 2 . 3 0 shows four different, arbitrary placements of
the anchor point that ultimately lead to four dissections
and four proofs once the cutting grid is properly placed.
Bottom line: a different placement means a different proof!
Figu r e 2 . 3 0 : Fou r Ar bit r a r y Pla c e me n t s of t h e
An c h or Poin t
6 5
Returning to Henry Perigal, Figu r e 2 . 3 1 shows the
anchor placement and associated Pythagorean Tiling
needed in order to verify his 1830 dissection. Notice how
the viability of Henry Perigal’s proof and novel quadrilateral
is rendered immediately apparent by the grid placement. As
we say in 2008, slick!
Figu r e 2 . 3 1 : Expos in g He n r y’s Qu a dr i la t e r a ls
With Pythagorean Tiling, we can have a thousand different
placements leading to a thousand different proofs. Should
we try for a million? Not a problem! Even old Pythagoras
and Euclid might have been impressed.
6 6
2.9 ) Pr esi dent Gar f i el d’s I ngeni ous Tr apezoi d
The Ohioan James A. Garfield (1831-1881) was the
20
th
president of the United States. Tragically, Garfield’s
first term in office was cut short by an assassin’s bullet:
inaugurated on 4 March 1881, shot on 2 July 1881, and
died of complications on 19 Sept 1881. Garfield came from
modest Midwestern roots. However, per hard work he was
able to save enough extra money in order to attend
William’s College in Massachusetts. He graduated with
honors in 1856 with a degree in classical studies. After a
meteoric stint as a classics professor and (within two years)
President of Hiram College in Ohio, Garfield was elected to
the Ohio Senate in 1859 as a Republican. He fought in the
early years of the Civil War and in 1862 obtained the rank
of Brigadier General at age 31 (achieving a final rank of
Major General in 1864). However, Lincoln had other plans
for the bright young Garfield and urged him to run for the
U.S. Congress. Garfield did just that and served from 1862
to 1880 as a Republican Congressman from Ohio,
eventually rising to leading House Republican.
While serving in the U.S. Congress, Garfield
fabricated one of the most amazing and simplistic proofs of
the Pythagorean Theorem ever devised—a dissection proof
that looks back to the original diagram attributed to
Pythagoras himself yet reduces the number of playing
pieces from five to three.
Figu r e 2 . 3 2 : Pr e s ide n t Ga r fie ld’s Tr a pe zoid
¬
b
a
c
6 7
Figu r e 2 . 3 2 is President Garfield’s Trapezoid diagram in
upright position with its origin clearly linked to Figu r e 2 . 3 .
Recall that the area of a trapezoid, in particular the area of
the trapezoid in Figu r e 2 . 3 2 , is given by the formula:
{ }{ } b a b a A
Trap
+ + = ) (
2
1
.
Armed with this information, Garfield completes his proof
with a minimum of algebraic pen strokes as follows.
{ }{ }
{ }{ }
{ }
{ }
= + ¬ = +
¬ + = + +
¬ + + = + +
¬ + + = + +
¬ + + = + +
+ + =
+ + =
2 2 2 2
2
1
2
2
1
2
2
1
2
2
1
2
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2 2
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2 2
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
1
3
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
1
2
2
) ( :
:
) ( :
c b a c b a
c ab b ab a
ab c ab b ab a
ab c ab b ab a
ab c ab b a b a
ab c ab A
b a b a A
set
Trap
Trap



.
Note: Pres ident Garf ield actually publis hed his proof in the 1876
edition of the Journal of Education, Volume 3, Is s ue 161, where the
trapez oid is s hown ly ing on its right s ide.
It does not get any simpler than this! Garfield’s proof is a
magnificent DRIII where all three fundamental quantities a ,
b, c are used in their natural and fundamental sense. An
extraordinary thing is that the proof was not discovered
sooner considering the ancient origins of Garfield’s
trapezoid. Isaac Newton, the co-inventor of calculus, once
said. “If I have seen further, it has been by standing on the
shoulders of giants.” I am sure President Garfield, a giant in
his own right, would concur. Lastly, speaking of agreement,
Garfield did have this to say about his extraordinary and
simple proof of the Pythagorean Proposition, “This is one
thing upon which Republicans and Democrats should both
agree.”
6 8
2.10] Ohi o and t he El usi ve Cal c ul us Pr oof
Elisha Loomis (1852-1940), was a Professor of
Mathematics, active Mason, and contemporary of President
Garfield. Loomis taught at a number of Ohio colleges and
high schools, finally retiring as mathematics department
head for Cleveland West High School in 1923. In 1927,
Loomis published a still-actively-cited book entitled The
Pythagorean Proposition, a compendium of over 250 proofs
of the Pythagorean Theorem—increased to 365 proofs in
later editions. The Pythagorean Proposition was reissued in
1940 and finally reprinted by the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics in 1968, 2
nd
printing 1972, as part
of its “Classics in Mathematics Education” Series.
Per the Pythagorean Proposition, Loomis is credited
with the following statement; there can be no proof of the
Py thagorean Theorem us ing either the methods of
trigonometry or calculus . Even today, this statement
remains largely unchallenged as it is still found with source
citation on at least two academic-style websites
1
. For
example, Jim Loy states on his website, “The book The
Pythagorean Proposition, by Elisha Scott Loomis, is a fairly
amazing book. It contains 256 proofs of the Pythagorean
Theorem. It shows that you can devise an infinite number of
algebraic proofs, like the first proof above. It shows that you
can devise an infinite number of geometric proofs, like
Euclid's proof. And it shows that there can be no proof
using trigonometry, analytic geometry, or calculus. The
book is out of print, by the way.”
That the Pythagorean Theorem is not provable using
the methods of trigonometry is obvious since trigonometric
relationships have their origin in a presupposed
Pythagorean right-triangle condition. Hence, any proof by
trigonometry would be a circular proof and logically invalid.
However, calculus is a different matter.
1
See Math Forum@Drexel,
http:/ / mathforum.org/ library / drmath/ view/ 6259.html ;
Jim Loy webs ite,http:/ / w w w.jimloy .com/ geometry / py thag.htm .
6 9
Even though the Cartesian coordinate finds its way into
many calculus problems, this backdrop is not necessary in
order for calculus to function since the primary purpose of
a Cartesian coordinate system is to enhance our
visualization capability with respect to functional and other
algebraic relationships. In the same regard, calculus most
definitely does not require a metric of distance—as defined
by the Distance Formula, another Pythagorean derivate—in
order to function. There are many ways for one to metricize
Euclidean n-space that will lead to the establishment of
rigorous limit and continuity theorems. Ta ble 2 . 2 lists the
Pythagorean metric and two alternatives. Reference 19
presents a complete and rigorous development of the
differential calculus for one and two independent variables
using the rectangular metric depicted in Ta ble 2 . 2 .
METRIC SET DEFINITION SHAPE
Pythagorean
 < ÷ + ÷
2
0
2
0
) ( ) ( y y x x
Circle
Taxi Cab  < ÷ + ÷ | | | |
0 0
y y x x Diamond
Rectangular  < ÷ | |
0
x x and  < ÷ | |
0
y y Square
Ta ble 2 . 2 Th r e e Eu c lid e a n Me t r ic s
Lastly, the derivative concept—albeit enhanced via
the geometric concept of slope introduced with a touch of
metrics—is actually a much broader notion than
instantaneous “rise over run”. So what mathematical
principle may have prompted Elisha Loomis, our early 20
th
century Ohioan, to discount the methods of calculus as a
viable means for proving the Pythagorean Theorem? Only
that calculus requires geometry as a substrate. The implicit
and untrue assumption is that all reality-based geometry is
Pythagorean. For a realty-based geometric counterexample,
the reader is encouraged to examine Taxicab Geometry: an
Adventure in Non-Euclidean Geometry by Eugene Krauss,
(Reference 20).
70
Whatever the original intent or implication, the Pythagorean
Proposition has most definitely discouraged the quest for
calculus-based proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem, for they
are rarely found or even mentioned on the worldwide web.
This perplexing and fundamental void in elementary
mathematics quickly became a personal challenge to search
for a new calculus-based proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Calculus excels in its power to analyze changing processes
incorporating one or more independent variables. Thus, one
would think that there ought to be something of value in
Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz’s brainchild—hailed by
many as the greatest achievement of Western science and
certainly equal to the Pythagorean brainchild—that would
allow for an independent metrics-free investigation of the
Pythagorean Proposition.
Note: I pers onally remember a copy of the Py thagorean
Propos ition—no doubt, the 1940 edition—s itting on my f ather’s
book s helf while y et a high-s chool s tudent, Clas s of 1965.
Initial thoughts/questions were twofold. Could
calculus be used to analyze a general triangle as it
dynamically changed into a right triangle? Furthermore,
could calculus be used to analyze the relationship amongst
the squares of the three sides
2
A ,
2
B ,
2
C throughout the
process and establish the sweet spot of equality
2 2 2
C B A = + —the Pythagorean Theorem? Being a lifelong
Ohioan from the Greater Dayton area personally
historicized this quest in that I was well aware of the
significant contributions Ohioans have made to technical
progress in a variety of fields. By the end of 2004, a viable
approach seemed to be in hand, as the inherent power of
calculus was unleashed on several ancient geometric
structures dating back to the time of Pythagoras himself.
Figu r e 2 . 3 3 , Carolyn’s Cauliflower (so named in honor of
my wife who suggested that the geometric structure looked
like a head of cauliflower) is the geometric anchor point for
a calculus-based proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.
71
Figu r e 2 . 3 3 : Ca r olyn ’s Ca u lifl owe r
The goal is to use the optimization techniques of
multivariable differential calculus to show that the three
squares
2
A ,
2
B , and
2
C constructed on the three sides of
the general triangle shown in Figu r e 2 . 3 3 , with angles are
 ,  , and  , satisfy the Pythagorean condition if and only
if    = + . Since
0
180 = + +    for any triangle, the
rightmost equality    = + is equivalent to the
condition
0
90 =  , which in turn implies that triangle
) , , (    is a right triangle.
:
1
 To start the proof , let 0 > C be the fixed length of an
arbitrary line segment placed in a horizontal position. Let x
be an arbitrary point on the line segment which cuts the
line segment into two sub-lengths: x and x C ÷ . Let
C y s < 0 be an arbitrary length of a perpendicular line
segment erected at the point x . Since x and y are both
arbitrary, they are both independent variables in the classic
sense.
x C-x
y
A
2
B
2
C
2
α
β
← γ →
72
In addition, y serves as the altitude for the arbitrary triangle
) , , (    defined by the construction shown in Figu r e
2 . 3 3 . The sum of the two square areas
2
A and
2
B in
Figu r e 2 . 3 3 can be determined in terms of x and y as
follows:
Cy y x C y x B A 2 ) ] ([ ) (
2 2 2 2
÷ + ÷ + + = + .
The terms
2
) ( y x + and
2
) ] ([ y x C + ÷ are the areas of the
left and right outer enclosing squares, and the term Cy 2 is
the combined area of the eight shaded triangles expressed
as an equivalent rectangle. Define ) , ( y x F as follows:
2 2 2 2
} { ) , ( C B A y x F ÷ + =
Then, substituting the expression for
2 2
B A + , we have
2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2 2
} ] [ { 4 ) , (
} 2 2 2 { ) , (
} 2 ) ] ([ ) {( ) , (
y x C x y x F
Cx y x y x F
C Cy y x C y x y x F
÷ ÷ =
¬ ÷ + =
¬ ÷ ÷ + ÷ + + =
We now restrict the function F to the compact, square
domain } 0 , 0 | ) , {( C y C x y x D s s s s = shown in Figu r e
2 . 3 4 where the symbols BndDand IntD denote the
boundary of D and interior of D respectively.
Figu r e 2 . 3 4 : Doma in D of F
(0, C) (C, C)
(C, 0) (0, 0)
IntD
BndD
73
Being polynomial in form, the function F is both
continuous and differentiable on D. Continuity implies
that F achieves both an absolute maximum and absolute
minimum on D, which occur either on BndDor IntD.
Additionally, 0 ) , ( > y x F for all points ) , ( y x in D due to
the presence of the outermost square in
2 2
} ] [ { 4 ) , ( y x C x y x F ÷ ÷ = .
This implies in turn that 0 ) , (
min min
> y x F for point(s)
) , (
min min
y x corresponding to absolute minimum(s) for
F on D. Equality to zero will be achieved if and only if
0 ] [
2
min min min
= ÷ ÷ y x C x .
Returning to the definition for F , one can immediately see
that the following four expressions are mutually equivalent
2 2 2
2 2 2
2
min min min
min min
0
0 ] [
0 ) , (
C B A
C B A
y x C x
y x F
= +
· = ÷ +
· = ÷ ÷
· =
:
2
 We now employ the optimization methods of
multivariable differential calculus to search for those points
) , (
min min
y x where 0 ) , (
min min
= y x F (if such points exist)
and study the implications. First we examine ) , ( y x F for
points ) , ( y x restricted to the four line segments comprising
BndD.
1.
2
]} [ { 4 ) 0 , ( x C x x F ÷ = . This implies 0 ) 0 , ( = x F only
when 0 = x or C x = on the lower segment of BndD.
Both of these x values lead to degenerate cases.
74
2. 0 } ] [ { 4 ) , (
2 2
> ÷ ÷ = C x C x C x F for all points on the
upper segment of BndD since the smallest value
that | ] [ |
2
C x C x ÷ ÷ achieves is 4 / 3
2
C , as
determined via the techniques of single-variable
differential calculus.
3. 0 4 ) , ( ) , 0 (
4
> = = y y C F y F for all points other than
0 = y (a degenerate case) on the two vertical
segments of BndD.
To examine F on IntD, first take the partial derivatives of
F with respect to x and y . This gives after simplification:
} ] [ ]{ 2 [ 8 / ) , (
2
y x C x x C x y x F ÷ ÷ ÷ = c c
} ] [ { 16 / ) , (
2
y x C x y y y x F ÷ ÷ ÷ = c c
Next, set the two partial derivatives equal to z
0 / ) , ( / ) , ( = c c = c c y y x F x y x F .
Solving for the associated critical points ) , (
cp cp
y x yields
one specific critical point and an entire locus of critical
points as follows:
) 0 , (
2
C
, a specific critical point
0 ] [
2
= ÷ ÷
cp cp cp
y x C x ,
an entire locus of critical points.
The specific critical point ) 0 , (
2
C
is the midpoint of the lower
segment for BndD. We have that
0 4 / ) 0 , (
4
2
> = C F
C
.
75
Thus, the critical point ) 0 , (
2
C
is removed from further
consideration since 0 ) 0 , (
2
>
C
F , which in turn
implies
2 2 2
C B A = + . As a geometric digression, any point
) 0 , (x on the lower segment of BndD represents a
degenerate case associated with Figu r e 2 . 3 3 since a viable
triangle cannot be generated if the y value (the altitude) is
zero as depicted in Figu r e 2 . 3 5
Figu r e 2 . 3 5 : Ca r olyn ’s Ca u lifl owe r for y = 0
To examine the locus of critical points
0 ] [
2
= ÷ ÷
cp cp cp
y x C x , we first need to ask the following
question: Given a critical point ) , (
cp cp
y x on the locus with
C x
cp
< < 0 , does the critical point necessarily lie in IntD?
Again, we turn to the techniques of single-variable
differential calculus for an answer.
1
A
2
A
3
A
C-x
y = 0
x
76
Let
cp
x be the x component of an arbitrary critical point
) , (
cp cp
y x . Now
cp
x must be such that C x
cp
< < 0 0 in
order for the quantity 0 ] [ > ÷
cp cp
x C x . This in turn allows
two real-number values for
cp
y . In light of Figu r e 2 . 3 3 ,
only those
cp
y values where 0 >
cp
y are of interest.
Figu r e 2 . 3 6 : Be h a vior of G on In t D
Define the continuous quadratic function
2
] [ ) ( y x C x y G
cp cp
÷ ÷ = on the vertical line segment
connecting the two points ) 0 , (
cp
x and ) , ( C x
cp
on BndD as
shown in Figu r e 2 . 3 6 . On the lower segment, we have
0 ] [ ) 0 ( > ÷ =
cp cp
x C x G for all
cp
x in C x
cp
< < 0 . On the
upper segment, we have that 0 ] [ ) (
2
< ÷ ÷ = C x C x C G
cp cp
for all
cp
x in C x
cp
< < 0 . This is since the maximum that
) , ( C x G can achieve for any
cp
x in C x
cp
< < 0 is 4 / 3
2
C ÷
per the optimization techniques of single-variable calculus.
Now, by the intermediate value theorem, there must be a
value C y < < * 0 where 0 *) ( ] [ *) (
2
= ÷ ÷ = y x C x y G
cp cp
.
By inspection, the associated point *) , ( y x
cp
is in IntD,
and, thus, by definition is part of the locus of critical points
with ) , ( *) , (
cp cp cp
y x y x = .
(xcp, 0) & G(0) > 0
(xcp, C) & G(C) < 0
(xcp, y cp)
&
G(y cp) = 0
G(y ) is
defined on
this line
77
Since
cp
x was chosen on an arbitrary basis, all critical
points ) , (
cp cp
y x defined by 0 ] [
2
= ÷ ÷
cp cp cp
y x C x lie
in IntD.
:
3
 Thus far, we have used the techniques of differential
calculus (both single and multi-variable) to establish a
locus of critical points 0 ] [
2
= ÷ ÷
cp cp cp
y x C x lying entirely
within IntD. What is the relationship of each point
) , (
cp cp
y x to the Pythagorean Theorem? As observed at the
end of Step 1, one can immediately state the following:
2 2 2
2 2 2
2
min min min
min min
0
0 ] [
0 ) , (
C B A
C B A
y x C x
y x F
= +
· = ÷ +
· = ÷ ÷
· =
.
Figu r e 2 . 3 7 : D a n d Loc u s of Cr it ic a l Poin t s
N L
M = (xcp, y cp)
÷
xcp
y cp
C - xcp
η
θ
β α
γ = θ + η
P
78
However, the last four-part equivalency is not enough. We
need information about the three angles in our arbitrary
triangle generated via the critical point ) , (
cp cp
y x as shown
in Figu r e 2 . 3 7 . In particular, is    + = a right angle? If
so, then the condition
2 2 2
C B A = + corresponds to the fact
that LMN A is a right triangle and we are done! To proceed,
first rewrite 0 ] [
2
= ÷ ÷
cp cp cp
y x C x as
cp
cp
cp
cp
x C
y
y
x
÷
= .
Now study this proportional equality in light of Figu r e 2 . 3 7 ,
where one sees that it establishes direct proportionality of
non-hypotenuse sides for the two triangles LPM A and
MPN A . From Figu r e 2 . 3 7 , we see that both triangles have
interior right angles, establishing that
MPN LPM A ~ A .
Thus   = and   = . Since the sum of the remaining
two angles in a right triangle is
0
90 both
0
90 = +  and
0
90 = +   . Combining
0
90 = +   with the equality
  = and the definition for  immediately leads to
0
90 = + =    , establishing the key fact that LMN A is a
right triangle and the subsequent simultaneity of the two
conditions
= +
· = +
  
2 2 2
C B A
Figu r e 2 . 3 8 on the next page summarizes the
various logic paths applicable to the now established
Cauliflower Proof of the Py thagorean Theorem with Convers e.
79
Figu r e 2 . 3 8 : Logic a lly Equ iva le n t St a r t in g Poin t s
Starting with any one of the five statements in Figu r e 2 . 3 8 ,
any of the remaining four statements can be deduced via
the Cauliflower Proof by following a permissible path as
indicated by the dashed lines. Each line is double-arrowed
indicating total reversibility along that particular line.
Once the Pythagorean Theorem is established, one
can show that the locus of points
0 ] [
2
= ÷ ÷
cp cp cp
y x C x
describes a circle centered at ) 0 , (
2
C
with radius
2
C
by
rewriting the equation as
2
2
2 2
2
] [ ) (
C
cp
C
cp
y x = + ÷ .
This was not possible prior to the establishment of the
Pythagorean Theorem since the analytic equation for a
circle is derived using the distance formula, a corollary of
the Pythagorean Theorem. The dashed circle described by
2
2
2 2
2
] [ ) (
C
cp
C
cp
y x = + ÷
in Figu r e 2 . 3 7 nicely reinforces the fact that LMN A is a
right triangle by the Inscribed Triangle Theorem of basic
geometry.
F(x,y ) = 0
A
2
+ B
2
= C
2
x(C - x)
2
+ y
2
= 0
α + β = γ
∂F/∂x = ∂F/∂y = 0
80
Our final topic in this Section leads to a more
general statement of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Let ) , (
cp cp
y x be an arbitrary interior critical point as
established by the Cauliflower Proof. Except for the single
boundary point ) 0 , (
2
c
on the lower boundary of ) ( f D , the
interior critical points ) , (
cp cp
y x are the only possible critical
points. Create a vertical line segment passing through
) , (
cp cp
y x and joining the two points ) 0 , (
cp
x and ) , ( c x
cp
as
shown in Figu r e 2 . 3 9 below. As created, this vertical line
segment will pass through one and only one critical point.
Figu r e 2 . 3 9 : Wa lk in g Fr om In e qu a lit y t o
Equ a lit y t o In e qu a lit y
(xcp, C)
(0, C) (C, C)
(0, 0) (C, 0)
A1 +A2 <A3
A1 +A2 >A3
(xcp, o)
(xcp, ycp) & A1 +A2 =A3
81
Define a new function
2 2
3 2 1
2 2 2 ) , ( y cx x A A A y x g
cp cp cp
+ ÷ = ÷ + =
for all points y on the vertical line segment where the stick
figure is walking. The function ) , ( y x g
cp
is clearly
continuous on the closed line segment { } ] , 0 [ : c y y e where
) , 0 ( c y
cp
e . We note the following three results:
1. 0 ) ( 2 ) 0 , ( < ÷ = c x x x g
cp cp cp
2. ( ) 0 ] [ 2 ) , (
2
= ÷ ÷ ÷ =
cp cp cp cp cp
y x c x y x g
3. 0 ) ( 2 2 ) , (
2
> ÷ + =
cp cp cp
x c c x c x g .
By continuity, we can immediately deduce that our function
) , ( y x g
cp
has the following behavior directly associated with
the three results as given above:
1. 0 ) , ( < y x g
cp
for all ) , 0 [
cp
y y e
This in turn implies that
3 2 1
A A A < + .
2. 0 ) , ( =
cp cp
y x g
This in turn implies that
3 2 1
A A A = + .
3. 0 ) , ( > y x g
cp
for all ] , ( c y y
cp
e
This in turn implies that
3 2 1
A A A > + .
Tying these results to the obvious measure of the associated
interior vertex angle  in Figu r e 2 . 3 7 leads to our final
revised statement of the Pythagorean Theorem and converse
on the next page.
82
Th e Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m a n d
Pyt h a gor e a n Con ve r s e
Suppose we have a family of triangles built from a
common hypotenuse C with side lengths and angles
labeled in general fashion as shown below.
Then the following three cases apply
1.
2 2 2
C B A < + · < +   
2.
2 2 2
C B A = + · = +   
3.
2 2 2
C B A > + · > +   
with the Py thagorean Theorem and Convers e being Cas e 2.
A B
C



83
2.11) Shear , Shape, and Ar ea
Our last major category of proof for the Pythagorean
Proposition is that of a shearing proof. Shearing proofs have
been around for at least one thousand years, but they have
increased in popularity with the advent of the modern
computer and associated computer graphics.
The heart of a shearing proof is a rectangle that
changes to a parallelogram preserving area as shown in
Figu r e 2 . 4 0 . Area is preserved as long as the length and
altitude remain the same. In a sense, one could say that a
shearing force F is needed to alter the shape of the
rectangle into the associated parallelogram, hence the name
s hearing proof . Shearing proofs distinguish themselves from
transformer proofs in that playing pieces will undergo both
shape changes and position changes. In transformer proofs,
the playing pieces only undergo position changes.
Figu r e 2 . 4 0 : Sh e a r in g a Re c t a n gle
Shearing proofs are primarily visual in nature, making them
fantastic to watch when animated on a computer. As such,
they are of special interest to mathematical hobbyists, who
collectively maintain their delightful pursuit of new ones.
Identical b and h
throughout implies
A1 =A2 =A3
A3
F
A2 A1 b
h
F
84
The one shearing proof that we will illustrate, without the
benefit of modern technology, starts with a variant of
Euclid’s Windmill, Figu r e 2 . 4 1 . Four basic steps are
needed to move the total area of the big square into the two
smaller squares.
Figu r e 2 . 4 1 : A Fou r St e p Sh e a r in g Pr oof
Step descriptors are as follows:
Sh e a r Lin e
2 ] Sh e a r Up
3 ] Pu s h Up 4 ] Sh e a r Ou t
1 ] St a r t
A1 A2
A1
A2
A1 A2
A1 A2
85
Step 1: Cut the big square into two pieces using Euclid’s
perpendicular as a cutting guide.
Step 2: Shear a first time, transforming the two rectangles
into associated equal-area parallelograms whose slanted
sides run parallel to the two doglegs of the master triangle.
Step 3: Push the two parallelograms are pushed vertically
upward to the top of the shear line, which is a projection of
the altitude for each square.
Step 4: Shear a second time to squeeze both parallelograms
into the associated little squares.
To s ummariz e the s hear proof : The hy potenus e s quare is cut
into two rectangles per the Euclidean s hear line. The
rectangles are s heared into equivalent-area parallelograms ,
which are then pus hed up the Euclidean s hear line into a
pos ition allowing each parallelogram to be s heared back to
the as s ociated little s quare.
86
2.12) A Chal l enge f or Al l Ages
As shown in this chapter, proving the Pythagorean
Theorem has provided many opportunities for mathematical
discovery for nearly 4000 years. Moreover, the Pythagorean
Theorem does not cease in its ability to attract new
generations of amateurs and professionals who want to add
yet another proof to the long list of existing proofs. Proofs
can be of many types and at many levels. Some are suitable
for children in elementary school such as the visual proof
attributed to Pythagoras himself—super effective if made
into a plastic or wood hand-manipulative set. Other proofs
only require background in formal geometry such as the
shearing proof in Section 2.11. Still others require
background in both algebra and geometry. The Cauliflower
Proof requires a background in calculus. Thus, one can say
there is a proof f or all ages as , indeed, there have been
proof s throughout the ages . The Pythagorean Crown Jewel
never ceases to awe and inspire!
Type Exa mple Comme n t
Visual
Dissection
Pythagoras Elementary School
Advanced
Visual
Dissection
Liu Hui Middle School
Algebraic
Dissection
Bhaskara Middle School
Construction Euclid Early High School
Transformer Kurrah Middle School
Similarity Legendre High School
Tiling Perigal Early High School
Calculus ‘Cauliflower’ Early College
Shearing Section 2.11 Early High School
Ta ble 2 . 3 : Ca t e gor ie s of Pyt h a gor e a n Pr oofs
87
In Ta ble 2 . 3 , we briefly summarize the categories of existing
proofs with an example for each. Not all proofs neatly tuck
into one category or another, but rather combine various
elements of several categories. A prime example is
Legendre’s similarity proof. In Chapter 3, Di amonds of t he
Same Mi nd, we will explore a sampling of major mathematical
‘spin offs’ attributed to the Pythagorean Theorem. In doing
so, we will get a glimpse of how our Crown Jewel has
permeated many aspects of today’s mathematics and, by
doing so, underpinned many of our modern technological
marvels and discoveries.
Eu clid ’s Bea u t y Revis it ed
Never did Euclid, as Newton ‘, discer n
Areas between an edge and a curve
Where ancient precisions of straight defer
To infinitesimal addends of t urn,
Precisely tallied in order to learn
Those planes t hat Euclid could only observe
As beauty…then barren of quadrature
And numbers for which Fair Order did yearn.
Thus beauty of worth meant beauty in square,
Or, those simple forms that covered the same.
And, though, Archimedes reckoned with care
Arcs of exhaustion no purist would claim,
Yet, his were the means for Newton to bare
True Beauty posed…in Principia’s frame.
October 2006
88
3) Di amonds of t he Same Mi nd
“Philosophy is written in this grand book—I mean the universe—which
stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless
one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters
in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and
its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures, without
which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it;
without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.” Galileo
Galilei
3.1) Ext ensi on t o Si mi l ar Ar eas
All squares are geometrically similar. When we ‘fit’ length—
the primary dimension associated with a square—to all
three sides of a right triangle, we have that
2 2 2
c b a = + or
3 2 1
A A A = + by the Pythagorean Theorem. The equation
3 2 1
A A A = + not only applies to areas of squares fitted to
the sides of a right triangle, but also to any geometrically
similar planar figure fitted to the sides of a right triangle
such as the three similar crosses shown in Figu r e 3 . 1 .
Figu r e 3 . 1 : Th r e e Squ a r e s , Th r e e Cr os s e s
A1
A2
A3
a b
c
b
a
c
A1
A2
A3
89
We can formally state this similarity principle as a theorem,
one first espoused by Euclid for the special case of similar
rectangles (Book 6, Proposition 31).
Similar-Figure Theorem: Suppose three similar geometric
figures are fitted to the three sides of a right triangle in
such a fashion that
2
1
ka A = ,
2
2
kb A = , and
2
3
kc A =
where the constant of proportionality k is identical for all
three figures. Then we have that
3 2 1
A A A = + .
Proof : From the Pythagorean Theorem
= + ¬ = + ¬ = +
3 2 1
2 2 2 2 2 2
A A A kc kb ka c b a
Ta ble 3 . 1 provides several area formulas of the form
2
kc A = for a sampling of geometric figures fitted to a
hypotenuse of length c . In order to apply the similar-figure
theorem to any given set of three geometric figures, the
fitting constant k must remain the same for the remaining
two sides a and b .
SIMILAR FIGURE DIMENSION
AREA
FORMULA
Square Side length
2
1 c A · =
Rectangle Length or height
2
c A
c
h
· =
Semicircle Diameter
2
8
c A · =

Equilateral Triangle Side length
2
4
3
c A =
Cross (Figu r e 3 . 1 ) Side length
2
3c A =
Pentagon Side length
2
72048 . 1 c A =
Hexagon Side length
2
2
3 3
c A =
Ta ble 3 . 1 : A Sa mplin g of Simila r Ar e a s
9 0
3.2) Pyt hagor ean Tr i pl es and Tr i angl es
Figu r e 3 . 2 : Pyt h a gor e a n Tr iple s
A Py thagorean Triple is a set of three positive
integers ) , , ( c b a satisfying the classical Pythagorean
relationship
2 2 2
c b a = + .
Furthermore, a Py thagorean Triangle is simply a right
triangle having side lengths corresponding to the integers in
a Pythagorean Triple. Figu r e 3 . 2 shows the earliest and
smallest such triple, ) 5 , 4 , 3 ( , known to the Egyptians some
4000 years ago in the context of a construction device for
laying out right angles (Section 2.1). The triple ) 10 , 8 , 6 ( was
also used by early builders to lay out right triangles.
Pythagorean triples were studied in their own right by the
Babylonians and the Greeks. Even today, Pythagorean
Triples are a continuing and wonderful treasure chest for
professionals and amateurs alike as they explore various
numerical relationships and oddities using the methods of
number theory, in particular Diophantine analysis (the
study of algebraic equations whose answers can only be
positive integers). We will not even attempt to open the
treasure chest in this volume, but simply point the reader
to the great and thorough references by Beiler and
Sierpinski where the treasures are revealed in full glory.
5
4
3
2 2
n m b ÷ =
mn a 2 =
2 2
n m c + =
9 1
What we will do in Section 3.2 is present the
formulas for a well-known method for generating
Pythagorean Triples. This method provides one of the
traditional starting points for further explorations of
Pythagorean Triangles and Triples.
Theorem: Let 0 > > n m be two positive integers. Then a set
of Pythagorean Triples is given by the formula:
) , , 2 ( ) , , (
2 2 2 2
n m n m mn c b a + ÷ =
Proof:
= + = +
¬ + + = +
¬ + ÷ + = +
¬ ÷ + = +
2 2 2 2 2 2
4 2 2 4 2 2
4 2 2 4 2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
) (
2
2 4
) ( ) 2 (
c n m b a
n n m m b a
n n m m n m b a
n m mn b a
From the formulas for the three Pythagorean Triples, we
can immediately develop expressions for both the perimeter
P and area A of the associated Pythagorean Triangle.
) ( 2 2
) ( ) )( 2 (
2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2
2
1
n m m n m n m mn P
n m mn n m mn A
+ = + + ÷ + =
÷ = ÷ =
One example of an elementary exploration is to find all
Pythagorean Triangles whose area numerically equals the
perimeter. To do so, first set
2 , 3 & 1 , 3
2 ) (
) ( 2 ) (
2 2
= = = =
¬ = ÷
¬ + = ÷
¬ =
n m n m
n m n
n m m n m mn
P A
For 1 , 3 = = n m , we have that 24 = = P A .
For 2 , 3 = = n m , we have that 30 = = P A .
9 2
Ta ble 3 . 2 lists all possible Pythagorean Triples with long
side 100 < c generated via the n m& formulas on the
previous page. Shaded are the two solutions where P A = .
M N A=2 MN B=M
2
-N
2
C=M
2
+N
2
T P A
2 1 4 3 5 PT 12 6
3 1 6 8 10 C 24 24
3 2 12 5 13 PT 30 30
4 1 8 15 17 P 40 60
4 2 16 12 20 C 48 96
4 3 24 7 25 PT 56 84
5 1 10 24 26 C 60 120
5 2 20 21 29 P 70 210*
5 3 30 16 34 C 80 240
5 4 40 9 41 PT 90 180
6 1 12 35 37 P 84 210*
6 2 24 32 40 C 96 384
6 3 36 27 45 C 108 486
6 4 48 20 52 C 120 480
6 5 60 11 61 PT 132 330
7 1 14 48 50 C 112 336
7 2 28 45 53 P 126 630
7 3 42 40 58 C 140 840*
7 4 56 33 65 P 154 924
7 5 70 24 74 C 168 840*
7 6 84 13 85 PT 182 546
8 1 16 63 65 P 144 504
8 2 32 60 68 C 160 960
8 3 48 55 73 P 176 1320
8 4 64 48 80 C 192 1536
8 5 80 39 89 P 208 1560
9 1 18 80 82 C 180 720
9 2 36 77 85 P 198 1386
9 3 54 72 90 C 216 1944
9 4 72 65 97 P 234 2340
Ta ble 3 . 2 : Pyt h a gor e a n Tr ip le s wit h c <1 0 0
Examining the table, one will first notice a column headed
by the symbol T, which doesn’t match with any known
common abbreviations such as A (area) or P (perimeter).
The symbol T stands for ty pe or triple ty pe.
9 3
There are three Pythagorean-triple types: primitive (P),
primitive twin (PT), and compos ite (C). The definitions for
each are as follows.
1. Primitive: A Pythagorean Triple ) , , ( c b a where there is no
common factor for all three positive integers c b a ,& , .
2. Primitive twin: A Pythagorean Triple ) , , ( c b a where the
longest leg differs from the hypotenuse by one.
3. Compos ite: A Pythagorean Triple ) , , ( c b a where there is a
common factor for all three positive integers c b a ,& , .
The definition for primitive twin can help us find an
associated n m& condition for identifying the same. If
mn a 2 = is the longest leg, then
1 1 ) (
1 2
1 2
1
2
2 2
2 2
+ = ¬ = ÷
¬ = + ÷
¬ + = +
¬ + =
n m n m
n mn m
mn n m
a c
.
Examining Ta ble 3 . 2 confirms the last equality; primitive
twins occur whenever 1 + = n m . As a quick exercise, we
invite the reader to confirm that the two cases 7 , 8 , = n m
and 8 , 9 , = n m also produce Pythagorean twins with
100 > c .
If
2 2
n m b ÷ = is the longest leg [such as the case for
2 & 7 = = n m ], then
1 2
1
1
2
2 2 2 2
=
¬ + ÷ = +
¬ + =
n
n m n m
b c
.
9 4
The last equality has no solutions that are positive integers.
Therefore, we can end our quest for Pythagorean Triples
where 1 + = b c .
Ta ble 3 . 2 reveals two ways that Composite
Pythagorean Triples are formed. The first way is when the
two generators n m& have factors in common, examples of
which are 2 & 6 = = n m , 3 & 6 = = n m , 4 & 6 = = n m or
4 & 8 = = n m . Suppose the two generators n m& have a
factor in common which simply means kq m kp m = = & .
Then the following is true:
) ( ) ( ) (
) ( ) ( ) (
2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
2
q p k kq kp n m c
q p k kq kp n m b
pq k kpkq mn a
+ = + = + =
÷ = ÷ = ÷ =
= = =
.
The last expressions show that the three positive integers
c b a & , have the same factor k in common, but now to the
second power. The second way is when the two generators
n m& differ by a factor of two: ... 3 , 2 , 1 , 2 = + = k k n m .
Exploring this further, we have
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2
4 4 2 ) 2 (
4 2 ) 2 (
2 2 ) 2 ( 2
n nk n n k n c
k k n k n b
kn n n k n a
n
+ + = + + =
+ = ÷ + =
+ = + =
.
Each of the integers c b a & , is divisible by two. Thus, all
three integers share, as a minimum, the common factor
two.
In General: If 0 > k is a positive integer and ) , , ( c b a is a
Pythagorean triple, then ) , , ( kc kb ka is also a Pythagorean
Triple. Proof : lef t as a challenge to the reader.
9 5
Thus, if we multiply any given primitive Pythagorean Triple,
say ) 5 , 3 , 4 ( , by successive integers ... 3 , 2 = k ; one can create
an unlimited number composite Pythagorean Triples and
associated Triangles ) 10 , 6 , 8 ( , ) 15 , 9 , 12 ( , etc.
We close this section by commenting on the
asterisked * values in Ta ble 3 . 2 . These correspond to cases
where two or more Pythagorean Triangles have identical
planar areas. These equal-area Pythagorean Triangles are
somewhat rare and provide plenty of opportunity for
amateurs to discover new pairs. Ta ble 3 . 3 is a small table
of selected equal-area Pythagorean Triangles.
A B C AREA
20 21 29 210
12 35 37 210
42 40 58 840
70 24 74 840
112 15 113 840
208 105 233 10920
182 120 218 10920
390 56 392 10920
Ta ble 3 . 3 : Equ a l-Ar e a Pyt h a gor e a n Tr ia n gle s
Rarer yet are equal-perimeter Pythagorean Triangles.
Ta ble 3 . 4 shows one set of four equal-perimeter
Pythagorean Triangles where the perimeter 000 , 000 , 1 < P .
Rumor has it that there are six other sets of four where
000 , 000 , 1 < P !
A B C PERIM
153868 9435 154157 317460
99660 86099 131701 317460
43660 133419 140381 317460
13260 151811 152389 317460
Ta ble 3 . 4 : Equ a l-Pe r im e t e r Pyt h a gor e a n Tr ia n gle s
9 6
3.3) I nsc r i bed Ci r c l e Theor em
The Inscribed Circle Theorem states that the radius
of a circle inscribed within a Pythagorean Triangle is a
positive integer given that the three sides have been
generated by the n m& process described in Section 3.2.
Figu r e 3 . 3 shows the layout for the Inscribed Circle
Theorem.
Figu r e 3 . 3 : In s c r ibe d Cir c le Th e or e m
The proof is simple once you see the needed dissection. The
key is to equate the area of the big triangle ABC A to the
sum of the areas for the three smaller triangles ADB A ,
BDC A , and ADC A . Analytic geometry deftly yields the
result.
÷ =
¬ ÷ + = +
¬ ÷ = +
¬ ÷ = + + ÷ +
¬ + + ÷ +
= ÷ ÷
A + A + A
= A ÷
) (
) )( ( ) (
) ( 2 2 2
) ( 2 ) ( ) ( 2
) )( )( ( ) )( )( ( 2 ) )( (
) ( 2 ) ( :
) ( ) ( ) (
) ( :
2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
2 2
2
1
2 2
2
1
2
1
2 2
2
1
2
1
n m n r
n m n m mn r m n m
n m mn r m rmn
n m mn r n m r n m rmn
n m r n m r mn r
n m mn
ADC Area BDC Area ADB Area
ABC Area
2 2
n m b ÷ =
A
B
C
mn a 2 =
2 2
n m c + =
D
r
r
r
9 7
The last equality shows that the inscribed radius r
is a product of two positive integral quantities ) ( n m n ÷ .
Thus the inscribed radius itself, called a Py thagorean
Radius , is a positive integral quantity, which is what we set
out to prove. The proof also gives us as a bonus the actual
formula for finding the inscribed radius ) ( n m n r ÷ = .
Ta ble 3 . 5 gives r values for all possible n m& values where
7 s m .
M N A=2 MN B=M
2
-N
2
C=M
2
+N
2
R=N(M-N)
2 1 4 3 5 1
3 1 6 8 10 2
3 2 12 5 13 2
4 1 8 15 17 3
4 2 16 12 20 4
4 3 24 7 25 3
5 1 10 24 26 4
5 2 20 21 29 6
5 3 30 16 34 6
5 4 40 9 41 4
6 1 12 35 37 5
6 2 24 32 40 8
6 3 36 27 45 9
6 4 48 20 52 8
6 5 60 11 61 5
7 1 14 48 50 6
7 2 28 45 53 10
7 3 42 40 58 12
7 4 56 33 65 12
7 5 70 24 74 10
7 6 84 13 85 6
Ta ble 3 . 5 : Se l e c t Pyt h a gor e a n Ra dii
9 8
3.4) Addi ng a Di mensi on
Inscribe a right triangle in cattycorner fashion and
within a rectangular solid having the three side lengths A,
B, and C as shown in Figu r e 3 . 4 . Once done, the
Pythagorean Theorem can be easily extended to three
dimensions as follows.
Figu r e 3 . 4 : Th r e e Dime n s ion a l Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m
Extens ion Theorem: Let three mutually-perpendicular line
segments have lengths A, B and C respectively, and let
these line segments be joined in unbroken end-to-end
fashion as shown in Figu r e 3 . 4 . Then the square of the
straight-line distance from the beginning of the first
segment to the end of the last line segment is given by
2 2 2 2
D C B A = + +
Proof : From the Pythagorean Theorem, we have
2 2 2
D C X = + . From the Pythagorean Theorem a second
time, we have
2 2 2
X B A = + . Thus
= + +
¬ = +
= +
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
&
D C B A
X B A
D C X
D
A
C
B
X
9 9
A Pythagorean Quartet is a set of four positive
integers ) , , , ( d c b a satisfying the three-dimensional
Pythagorean relationship
2 2 2 2
d c b a = + + .
Pythagorean quartets can be generated using the n m&
formulas below.
2 2
2
2
2
2
2
n m d
n c
mn b
m a
+ =
=
=
=
To verify, square the expressions for c b a & , , add, and
simplify.
= +
= + +
= + +
2 2 2
2
4 4
2 2 2 2 2
) 2 (
4 4
) 2 ( ) 2 ( ) (
d n m
n mn m
n mn m
Ta ble 3 . 6 lists the first twelve Pythagorean quartets so
generated.
M N A=M
2
B=2 MN C=2 N
2
D=M
2
+2 N
2
2 1 4 4 2 6
3 1 9 6 2 11
3 2 9 10 8 17
4 1 16 8 2 18
4 2 16 16 8 24
4 3 16 24 18 34
5 1 25 10 2 27
5 2 25 20 8 33
5 3 25 30 18 43
5 4 25 40 32 57
6 1 36 12 2 38
6 2 36 24 8 44
Ta ble 3 . 6 : Se l e c t Pyt h a gor e a n Qu a r t e t s
100
Our last topic in Section 3.4 addresses the famous
Distance Formula, a far-reaching result that is a direct
consequence of the Pythagorean Theorem. The Distance
Formula—an alternate formulation of the Pythagorean
Theorem in analytic-geometry form—permeates all of basic
and advanced mathematics due to its fundamental utility.
Figu r e 3 . 5 : Th r e e -Dime n s ion a l Dis t a n c e For m u la
Theorem: Let ) , , (
1 1 1
z y x and ) , , (
2 2 2
z y x be two points in
three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate space as shown in
Figu r e 3 . 5 . Let D be the straight-line distance between
the two points. Then the distance D is given by
2
1 2
2
1 2
2
1 2
) ( ) ( ) ( z z y y x x D ÷ + ÷ + ÷ = .
Proof :
÷ + ÷ + ÷ =
¬ ÷ + ÷ + ÷ =
¬ + + =
2
1 2
2
1 2
2
1 2
2
1 2
2
1 2
2
1 2
2
2 2 2 2
) ( ) ( ) (
) ( ) ( ) (
z z y y x x D
z z y y x x D
C B A D
D
A
C
B
) , , (
1 1 1
z y x
) , , (
2 2 2
z y x
) , , (
1 1 2
z y x
) , , (
1 2 2
z y x
x
y
z
101
3.5) Pyt hagor as and t he Thr ee Means
The Pythagorean Theorem can be used to visually
display three different statistical means or averages:
arithmetic mean, geometric mean, and harmonic mean.
Suppose b a & are two numbers. From these two
numbers, we can create three different means defined by
Arithmetic Mean:
2
b a
M
A
+
=
Geometric Mean: ab M
G
=
Harmonic Mean:
b a
ab
M
b a
H
+
=
+
=
2 2
1 1
.
Collectively, these three means are called the Pythagorean
Means due to their interlocking relationships with respect
to s ix right-triangles as shown in Figu r e 3 . 6 .
Figu r e 3 . 6 : Th e Th r e e Pyt h a gor e a n Me a n s
a b
2
b a
R
b a D
+
=
+ =
R
x
y
÷ ÷
A
E
C
D
F
B
G
x EC M
G
= =
y FC M
H
= =
R GB M
A
= =
A G H
M M M s s
102
In Figu r e 3 . 6 , the line AD has length b a + and is
the diameter for a circle with center 2 / ] [ b a + . Triangle
ACD A utilizes AD as its hypotenuse and the circle rim as
its vertex making ACD A a right triangle by construction.
Since EC is perpendicular to AD, ACE A and ECD A are
both similar to ACD A . Likewise, the three triangles
GCE A , GFE A , and EFC A form a second similarity group
by construction.
Next, we show that the three line segments GB ,
EC , and FC are the three Pythagorean Means
A
M ,
G
M ,
and
H
M as defined.

Arithmetic Mean: The line segment GB is a radius and has
length 2 / ] [ b a + by definition. It immediately follows that:
2
b a
GB M
A
+
= = .
Geometric Mean: The similarity relationship
ECD ACE A ~ A leads to the following proportion:
ab x EC M
ab x ab x
x
b
a
x
G
= = =
¬ = ¬ =
¬ =
2
.
Harmonic Mean: By construction, the line segment GC is a
radius with length 2 / ] [ b a + . Line segment EF is
constructed perpendicular to GC . This in turn makes
EFC GCE A ~ A , which leads to the following proportion
and expression for FC .
103
b a
H
b a
b a b a
y FC M
b a
ab
y
ab
y
x
y
x
x
y
1 1
2
2
2
2
2
2
+
= = =
¬
+
= ¬ =
= ¬ =
+
+ +
Examining the relative lengths of the three line segments
GB , EC , and FC in Figu r e 3 . 6 immediately establishes
the inequality
A G H
M M M s s for the three Pythagorean
Means. The reader is invited to verify that
A G H
M M M = =
when b a = .
As is usually done in mathematics, our two-number
Pythagorean Mean definitions can easily be generalized to
multi-number definitions. Let n i a
i
, 1 , = be n numbers.
Then the following definitions apply:
General Arithmetic Mean:
n
a
M
n
i
i
A
¯
=
=
1
General Geometric Mean:
n
n
i
i G
a M
I
=
=
1
General Harmonic Mean:
¯
=
=
n
i i
H
a
n
M
1
1
.
To close, various sorts of means are some of the
most widely used quantities in modern statistics. Three of
these have geometric origins and can be interpreted within
a Pythagorean context.
104
3.6 ) The Theor ems of Her on, Pappus,
Kur r ah, and St ewar t
The Pythagorean Theorem uses as its starting point
a right triangle. Suppose a triangle is not a right triangle.
What can we say about relationships amongst the various
parts of a triangle’s anatomy: sides, areas, and altitudes?
Most students of mathematics can recite the two basic
formulas as presented in Figu r e 3 . 7 . Are there other f acts
that one can glean?
Figu r e 3 . 7 : Th e Two Ba s ic Tr ia n gle For mu la s
In this section, we will look at four investigations into this
very question spanning a period of approximately 1700
years. Three of the associated scientists and
mathematicians—Heron, Pappus, and Stewart—are new to
our study. We have previously introduced Kurrah in Section
2.4.
Heron, also known as Hero of Alexandria, was a
physicist, mathematician, and engineer who lived in the 1
st
century ACE.
Figu r e 3 . 8 : Sc h e ma t ic of He r o’s St e a m En gin e
a
b
c
h
÷
c b a Perimeter
ch Area
+ + =
=
2
1
105
Hero was the founder of the Higher Technical School at the
then world-renown center of learning at Alexandria, Egypt.
He invented the first steam engine, schematically depicted
in Figu r e 3 . 8 , a device that rotated due to the thrust
generated by steam exiting through two nozzles
diametrically placed on opposite sides of the axis of
rotation. Working models of Hero’s steam engine are still
sold today as tabletop scientific collectables.
In his role as an accomplished mathematician,
Heron (as he is better known in mathematical circles)
discovered one of the great results of classical mathematics,
a general formula for triangular area known as Heron’s
Theorem. Heron did not originally use the Pythagorean
Theorem to prove his result. Both the Pythagorean Theorem
and Heron’s Theorem are independent and co-equal results
in that each can be derived without the use of the other and
each can be used to prove the other. In this section, we will
show how the Pythagorean Theorem, coupled with ‘heavy’
analytic geometry, is used to render the truth of Heron’s
Theorem. First, we state Heron’s historic result.
Heron’s Theorem: Suppose a general triangle (a triangle
having no special angles such as right angles) has three
sides whose lengths are a , b , and c respectively. Let
2 / ] [ c b a s + + = be the semi-perimeter for the same. Then
the internal area A enclosed by the general triangle, Figu r e
3 . 9 , is given by the formula:
) )( )( ( c s b s a s s A ÷ ÷ ÷ = .
Figu r e 3 . 9 : Dia gr a m for He r on ’s Th e or e m
a
b
c
h
x x c ÷
÷
106
Proof of Heron’s Theorem:
:
1
 Using the Pythagorean Theorem, create two equations
2 1
&E E in the two unknowns h and x .
2 2 2
2
2 2 2
1
) ( :
:
a x c h E
b x h E
= ÷ +
= +
:
2
 Subtract
2
E from
1
E and then solve for x .
c
a b c
x
a b c cx
a b x c x
2
2
) (
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2 2
÷ +
=
¬ ÷ = ÷
¬ ÷ = ÷ ÷
:
3
 Substitute the last value for x into
1
E .
2
2
2 2 2
2
2
b
c
a b c
h =

÷ +
+
:
4
 Solve for h .
| |
| |
| | { } | | { }
| | { }| | { }
{ }{ }{ }{ }
2
2
2 2 2 2
2
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
2
2 2 2 2 2
2
2
2 2 2 2 2
4
4
4
2 2
4
4
4
4
c
a b c a b c b c a c b a
h
c
a b c b c a
h
c
a b c cb a b c cb
h
c
a b c b c
h
c
a b c b c
h
+ + ÷ + ÷ + ÷ +
=
¬
÷ + ÷ ÷
=
¬
÷ + + ÷ + ÷
=
¬
÷ + ÷
=
¬
÷ + ÷
=
107
:
5
 Solve for area using the formula ch A
2
1
= .
{ }{ }{ }{ }
{ }{ }{ }{ }
{ }{ }{ }{ }
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
16
4
2 2
1
· · ·
+ + ÷ + + ÷ + + ÷ + +
=
¬
+ + ÷ + ÷ + ÷ +
=
¬
+ + ÷ + ÷ + ÷ +
=
a b c a b c a b c b a c c b a
A
a b c a b c b c a c b a
A
c
a b c a b c b c a c b a
c A
:
6
 Substitute 2 / ] [ c b a s + + = and simplify to obtain the
final result.
÷ ÷ ÷ =
¬ ÷ ÷ ÷ =
¬
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
÷
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
÷
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
÷ =
) )( )( (
) )( )( (
} {
2
2
2
2
2
2
c s b s a s s A
s a s b s c s A
s
a
s
b
s
c
s A
***
Pappus, like Heron, was a prominent mathematician
of the Alexandrian School and contributed much to the field
of mathematics. There are several ‘Pappus Theorems’ still in
use today. Notable is the Pappus Theorem utilized in multi-
variable calculus to determine the volume of a solid of
revolution via the circular distance traveled by a centroid.
In his masterwork, The Mathematical Collection (circa 300
ACE), he published the following generalization of the
Pythagorean Theorem which goes by his name.
Pappus ’ Theorem: Let ABC A be a general triangle with
sides AB , AC , and BC . Suppose arbitrary parallelograms
having areas
1
A and
2
A are fitted to sides AC and BC as
shown in Figu r e 3 . 1 0 .
108
If a parallelogram of area
3
A is fitted to side AB via the
construction method in Figu r e 3 . 1 0 , then
3 2 1
A A A = + .
Figu r e 3 . 1 0 : Dia gr a m for Pa ppu s ’ Th e or e m
Proof of Pappus ’ Theorem:
:
1
 Let ABC A be a general triangle. Fit an arbitrary
parallelogram of area
1
A to the side AC ; likewise, fit the
arbitrary parallelogram of area
2
A to the side BC .
:
2
 Linearly extend the outer sides—dotted lines—of the
two fitted parallelograms until they meet at the point D.
:
3
 Construct a dashed shear line through the points D
and C as shown in Figu r e 3 . 1 0 . Let d EF DC = = .
Construct two additional shear lines through points A and
B with both lines parallel to the line passing through points
D and C.
3 2 1
A A A = +
1
A
2
A
d
3
A
d
A B
C
D
E
F
109
:
4
 Construct the parallelogram with area
3
A as shown
with two sides of length AB and two sides of length DC .
We claim that if the third parallelogram is constructed in
this fashion, then
3 2 1
A A A = + .
:
5
 Figu r e 3 . 1 1 depicts the two-step shearing proof for
Pappus’ Theorem. The proof is rather easy once the
restrictions for the rectangle to be fitted on side AB are
known. Figu r e 3 . 1 1 shows the areas of the two original
parallelograms being preserved through a two-step
transformation that preserves equality of altitudes. This is
done by keeping each area contained within two pairs of
parallel guidelines —lik e railroad track s . In this fashion,
1
A
is morphed to the left side of the constructed parallelogram
having area
3
A . Likewise,
2
A is morphed to the right side
of the same. Summing the two areas gives the sought after
result:
= +
3 2 1
A A A
Figu r e 3 . 1 1 : Pa ppu s Tr iple Sh e a r Lin e Pr oof
1
A
2
A
3
A
1
A
2
A
110
Note
1
: The reader is invited to compare the s hearing proof of Pappus
to the one pres ented in Section 2.11 and notice the s equence
revers al.
Note
2
: Pappus ’ Theorem is res trictive in that one mus t cons truct the
third parallelogram according to the proces s laid out in the proof.
Perhaps the theorem evolved af ter many trials with the s quares of
Py thagoras as Pappus tried to relate s iz e of s quares to the s ides of
a general triangle. In doing s o, s quares became rectangles and
parallelograms as the inves tigation broadened. I s us pect, as is
us ually the cas e, pers piration and ins piration combined to produce
the magnificent res ult above!
Like Herron’s Theorem, both the Pythagorean
Theorem and Pappus’ Theorem are independent and co-
equal results. Figu r e 3 . 1 2 shows the methods associated
with Pappus’ Theorem as they are used to prove the
Pythagorean Theorem, providing another example of a
Pythagorean shearing proof in addition to the one shown in
Section 2.11. The second set of equally spaced sheer lines
on the left side, are used to cut the smaller square into two
pieces so that a fitting within the rails can quite literally
occur.
Figu r e 3 . 1 2 : Pa ppu s Me e t s Pyt h a gor a s
***
A3
A2
A1
A2 A1
Dou ble Sh e a r
An d Fit s ide
111
We already have introduced Thabit ibn Kurrah in
Section 2.4 with respect to his Bride’s Chair and associated
transformer proof. Kurrah also investigated non-right
triangles and was able to generalize the Pythagorean
Proposition as follows.
Kurrah’s Theorem: Suppose a general triangle AED A has
three sides whose lengths are AD, AE , and ED. Let the
vertex angle  = ZAED as shown in Figu r e 3 . 1 3 .
Construct the two line segments ED and EC in such a
fashion that both  = ZABE and  = ZDCE . Then we
have that
) (
2 2
CD AB AD ED AE + = + .
Figu r e 3 . 1 3 : Dia gr a m for Ku r r a h ’s Th e or e m
Proof of Kurrah’s Theorem:
:
1
 Establish similarity for three key triangles by noting
that angle BAE Z is common to ABE A and AED A .
Likewise EDC Z is common to ECD A and AED A . This
and the fact that DCE ABE AEB Z = Z = Z implies
ECD ABE AED A ~ A ~ A .



A
E
D
C B
112
:
2
 Set up and solve two proportional relationships
AD CD ED
ED
AD
CD
ED
AD AB AE
AE
AD
AB
AE
· = ¬ =
· = ¬ =
2
2
&
:
3
 Add the two results above and simplify to complete the
proof.
( ) + = +
¬ · + · = +
CD AB AD ED AE
AD CD AD AB ED AE
2 2
2 2
Kurrah’s Theorem can be used to prove the Pythagorean
Theorem for the special case
0
90 =  via the following very
simple logic sequence.
For, if the angle  happens to be a right angle, then we
have a merging of the line segment EB with the line
segment EC . This in turn implies that the line segment
BC has zero length and AD CD AB = + . Substituting into
Kurrah’s result gives
= +
2 2 2
AD ED AE ,
Note: Yet another proof of the Py thagorean Theorem!
***
Mathew Stewart (1717-1785) was a professor at the
University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
The famous theorem as stated on the next page—although
attributed to Stewart—has geometric similarities to
theorems originally discovered and proved by Apollonius.
113
Some historians believe Stewart’s Theorem can be traced as
far back as Archimedes. Other historians believe that
Simpson (one of Stewart’s academic mentors) actually
proved ‘Stewart’s Theorem’. Controversy aside, Stewart was
a brilliant geometer in his own right. Like Euclid, Stewart
was an expert organizer of known and useful results in the
burgeoning new area of mathematical physics—especially
orbital mechanics.
Unlike the three previous theorems, Stewart’s
Theorem is not co-equal to the Pythagorean Theorem. This
means that Stewart’s Theorem requires the use of the
Pythagorean Theorem in order to construct a proof.
Independent proofs of Stewart’s Theorem are not possible
and, thus, any attempt to prove the Pythagorean Theorem
using Stewart’s Theorem becomes an exercise in circular
logic. We now proceed with the theorem statement
Figu r e 3 . 1 4 : Dia gr a m for St e wa r t ’s Th e or e m
Stewart’s Theorem: Suppose a general triangle (a
triangle having no special angles such as right angles) has
sides with lengths a , b , and c . Let a line segment of
unk nown length d be drawn from the vertex of the triangle
to the horizontal side as shown in Figu r e 3 . 1 4 , cutting c
into two portions m and n where n m c + = . Then, the
following relations hip holds among the s ix line s egments
whos e lengths are m d c b a , , , , , and n :
] [
2 2 2
mn d c mb na + = + .
a
b
n m c + =
h
x
÷
d
m n
114
Proof of Stew art’s Theorem
:
1
 Using the Pythagorean Theorem, create three equations
3 2 1
,& , E E E in the three unknowns d , h , and x .
2 2 2
3
2 2 2
2
2 2 2
1
:
) ( :
) ( :
x h d E
x m h a E
x n h b E
+ =
+ + =
÷ + =
:
2
 Solve
3
E for
2
h Substitute result in
1
E and
2
E ,
simplify.
mx m d a E
nx n d b E
x m x d a E
x n x d b E
2 :
2 :
) ( :
) ( :
2 2 2
2
2 2 2
1
2 2 2 2
2
2 2 2 2
1
+ + =
÷ + =
¬ + + ÷ =
÷ + ÷ =
:
3
 Formulate
2 1
nE mE + and simplify using n m c + = .
+ = +
¬ + = +
¬ + + + = +
¬ + + + = + +
¬ + + =
÷ + =
) (
) ( ) (
:
2 :
2 :
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
2 1
2 2 2
2
2 2 2
1
mn d c na mb
mnc cd na mb
n m mn d n m na mb
nm mn nd md na mb nE mE
nmx nm nd na nE
mnx mn md mb mE
Stewart’s result can be used to solve for the unknown line-
segment length d in terms of the known lengths m c b a , , ,
and n .
115
In pre-computer days, both all four theorems in this section
had major value to the practicing mathematician and
scientist. Today, they may be more of an academic
curiosity. However, this in no way detracts from those
before us whose marvelous and clever reasoning led to
these four historic landmarks marking our continuing
Pythagorean journey.
Ta ble 3 . 7 summarizes the four theorems presented
in this section. A reversible proof in the context below is a
proof that is can be independently derived and the used to
prove the Pythagorean Theorem.
WHO? WHAT?
PROOF
REVERSIBLE?
PROOF
SHOWN?
Heron:
Greek
Triangular Area in
Terms of Sides
Yes No
Pappus:
Greek
Generalization for
Parallelograms
Erected on sides
Yes Yes
Kurrah:
Turkish
Generalization for
Squares of Side
Lengths
Yes Yes
Stewart:
Scottish
Length Formula for
Line Segment
Emanating from Apex
No
Not
Possible
Ta ble 3 . 7 : Pyt h a gor e a n Ge n e r a liza t ion s
116
3.7) The Fi ve Pi l l ar s of Tr i gonomet r y
Language is an innate human activity, and
mathematics can be defined as the language of
measurement! This definition makes perfect sense, for
humans have been both measuring and speaking/writing
for a very long time. Truly, the need to measure is in our
‘blood’ just as much as the need to communicate.
Trigonometry initially can be thought of as the mathematics
of ‘how far’, or ‘how wide’, or ‘how deep’. All of the preceding
questions concern measurement, in particular, the
measurement of distance. Hence, trigonometry, as originally
conceived by the ancients, is primarily the mathematical
science of measuring distance. In modern times,
trigonometry has been found to be useful in scores of other
applications such as the mathematical modeling and
subsequent analysis of any reoccurring or cyclic pattern.
Geometry, particularly right-triangle or Pythagorean
geometry, was the forerunner to modern trigonometry.
Again, the ancients noticed that certain proportions
amongst the three sides of two similar triangles (triangles
having equal interior angles) were preserved—no matter the
size difference between the two triangles. These proportions
were tabulated for various angles. They were then used to
figure out the dimensions of a large triangle using the
dimensions of a smaller, similar triangle. This one
technique alone allowed many powerful things to be done
before the Common Era: e.g. construction of the Great
Pyramid, measurement of the earth’s circumference (25,000
miles in today’s terms), estimation of the distance from the
earth to the moon, and the precise engineering of roadways,
tunnels, and aqueducts. ‘Nascent trigonometry’, in the form
of right-triangle geometry, was one of the backbones of
ancient culture.
In modern times trigonometry has grown far beyond
its right triangle origins. It can now be additionally
described as the mathematics describing periodic or cyclic
processes.
117
One example of a periodic process is the time/distance
behavior of a piston in a gasoline engine as it repeats the
same motion pattern some 120,000 to 200,000 times in a
normal hour of operation. Our human heart also exhibits
repetitive, steady, and cyclic behavior when in good health.
Thus, the heart and its beating motion can be analyzed
and/or described using ideas from modern trigonometry as
can any electromagnetic wave form.
Note: On a recent trip to Lincoln, Nebras k a, I calculated that the
wheel on our Toy ota would revolve approximately 1,000,000 times
in a tw elve-hour journey —very definitely a cy clic, repetitive proces s .
Returning to measurement of distance, look up to
the night sky and think ‘how far to the stars’—much like
our technical ancestors did in ancient Greece, Rome,
Babylon, etc. Trigonometry has answered that question in
modern times using the powerful parallax technique. The
parallax technique is a marriage of modern and old: careful,
precise measurement of known distances/angles
extrapolated across vast regions of space to calculate the
distance to the stars. The Greeks, Romans, and
Babylonians would have marveled! Now look down at your
GPS hand-held system. Turn it on, and, within a few
seconds, you will know your precise location on planet
earth. This fabulous improvement on the compass operates
using satellites, electronics, and bas ic trigonometry as
developed from right triangles and the associated
Py thagorean Theorem. And if you do not have a GPS device,
you surely have a cell phone. Every fascinating snippet of
cellular technology will have a mathematical foundation in
trigonometry and the Pythagorean Theorem.
Trigonometry rests on five pillars that are
constructed using direct Pythagorean principles or derivates
thereof. These five pillars serve as the foundation for the
whole study of trigonometry, and, from these pillars, one
can develop the subject in its entirety.
Note: In 1970, while I w as in graduate s chool, a mathematics
profes s or s tated that he could teach every thing that there is to k now
about trigonometry in tw o hours . I have long s ince realiz ed that he
is right. The five Py thagorean pillars mak e this s tatement s o.
118
To start a formal exploration of trigonometry, first
construct a unit circle of radius 1 = r and center ) 0 , 0 ( . Let
t be the counterclockwise arc length along the rim from the
point ) 0 , 1 ( to the point ) , ( ) ( y x t P = . Positive values for t
correspond to rim distances measured in the
counterclockwise direction from ) 0 , 1 ( to ) , ( ) ( y x t P =
whereas negative values for t correspond to rim distances
measured in the clockwise direction from ) 0 , 1 ( to
) , ( ) ( y x t P = . Let  be the angle subtended by the arc
length t , and draw a right triangle with hypotenuse
spanning the length from ) 0 , 0 ( to ) , ( y x as shown in Figu r e
3 . 1 5 .
Figu r e 3 . 1 5 : Tr igon ome t r y via Un it Cir c le
The first pillar is the collection definition for the s ix
trigonometric f unctions . Each of the six functions has as
their independent or input variable either  or t . Each
function has as the associated dependent or output variable
some combination of the two right-triangular sides whose
lengths are x and y .

) 0 , 0 ( ) 0 , 1 (
t
x
) , ( ) ( y x t P =
y
1 = r
119
The six trigonometric functions are defined as follows:
1] y t = = ) sin( ) sin( 2]
y
t
1
) csc( ) csc( = = 
3] x t = = ) cos( ) cos( 4]
x
t
1
) sec( ) sec( = = 
5]
x
y
t = = ) tan( ) tan( 6]
y
x
t = = ) cot( ) cot(
As the independent variable t increases, one eventually
returns to the point ) 0 , 1 ( and circles around the rim a
second time, a third time, and so on. Additionally, any fixed
point ) , (
0 0
y x on the rim is passed over many times as we
continuously spin around the circle in a positive or negative
direction. Let
0
t or
0
 be such that
) , ( ) ( ) (
0 0 0 0
y x P t P = =  . Since 1 = r , one complete
revolution around the rim of the circle is equivalent to  2
units and, consequently,
... 3 , 2 , 1 : ) 2 ( ) (
0 0
± ± ± = + = n n t P t P  . We also have that
) 360 ( ) (
0
0
0
  ÷ = P P . For ) sin(
0
t , this translates to
) 2 sin( ) sin(
0 0
 n t t + = or ) 360 sin( ) sin(
0
0
0
  ÷ = . Identical
behavior is exhibited by the five remaining trigonometric
functions.
In general, trigonometric f unctions cy cle through the s ame
values over and over again as the independent variable t
indef initely increas es on the interval ) , 0 [ · or, by the s ame
tok en, indef initely decreas es on the interval ] 0 , (÷· ,
corres ponding to repeatedly revolving around the rim of the
unit circle in Fi gu re 3 . 1 5 .
120
This one characteristic alone suggests that (at least in
theory) trigonometric functions can be used to model the
behavior of any natural or contrived phenomena having an
oscillating or repeating action over time such as the
induced ground-wave motion of earthquakes or the induced
atmospheric-wave motion due to various types of music or
voice transmission.
Figu r e 3 . 1 6 : Tr igon ome t r y via Ge n e r a l Righ t Tr ia n gle
The six trigonometric functions also can be defined
using a general right triangle. Let ABC A be an arbitrary
right triangle with angle  as shown on the previous page
in Figu r e 3 . 1 6 . The triangle ABC A is similar to
triangle { } ) , ( ), 0 , 1 ( ), 0 , 0 ( y x A . This right-triangle similarity
guarantees:
1]
AC
BC y
= =
1
) sin( 2]
BC
AC
y
= =
1
) csc(
3]
AC
AB x
= =
1
) cos( 4]
AB
AC
x
= =
1
) sec(
5]
AB
BC
x
y
= = ) tan( 6]
AC
AB
y
x
= = ) cot(

) 0 , 0 ( ) 0 , 1 (
x
) , ( y x
y
1

A B
C
121
The following four relationships are immediately
evident from the above six definitions. These four
relationships will comprise our primitive trigonometric
identities .
1]
) sin(
1
) csc(

 = 2]
) cos(
1
) sec(

 =
3]
) cos(
) sin(
) tan(


 = 4]
) sin(
) cos(
) cot(


 =
Since the four trigonometric functions ) csc( , ) sec( ,
) tan( , and ) cot( reduce to nothing more than
combinations of sines and cosines, one only needs to know
the value of ) sin( and ) cos( for a given  in order to
evaluate these remaining four functions. In practice,
trigonometry is accomplished by table look up. Tables for
the six trigonometric function values versus  are set up
for angles from
0
0 to
0
90 in increments of ' 10 or less.
Various trigonometric relationships due to embedded
symmetry in the unit circle were used to produce
trigonometric functional values corresponding to angles
ranging from
0
90 to
0
360 . Prior to 1970, these values were
manually created using a book of mathematical tables.
Nowadays, the painstaking operation of table lookup is
transparent to the user via the instantaneous modern
electronic calculator.
Our second pillar is a group of three identities,
collectively called the Py thagorean identities . The
Pythagorean identities are a direct consequence of the
Pythagorean Theorem. From the Pythagorean Theorem and
the definitions of ) sin(t and ) cos(t , we immediately see
that
1 ) ( cos ) ( sin
2 2
= + t t .
122
This is the first Pythagorean identity. Dividing the identity
1 ) ( cos ) ( sin
2 2
= + t t , first by ) ( cos
2
t , and a second time by
) ( sin
2
t gives
) ( csc 1 ) ( cot
& ) ( sec 1 ) ( tan
2 2
2 2
t t
t t
= +
= +
.
These are the second and third Pythagorean identities. All
three Pythagorean identities are extensively used in
trigonometric analysis in order to convert from one
functional form to another on an as-needed basis when
dealing with various real-world problems involving angles
and measures of distances. In Section 4.3, we will explore a
few of these fascinating real-world applications.
The addition f ormulas for ) cos(   ± , ) sin(   ±
and ) tan(   ± in terms of ) cos( , ) sin( , ) tan( ,
) cos( , and ) sin( , and ) tan( comprise as a group the
third pillar of trigonometry.
Figu r e 3 . 1 7 : Th e Cos in e of t h e Su m
) 0 , 0 ( ) 0 , 1 (


 ÷
  +
)} sin( ), {cos(     + +
)} sin( ), {cos(  
)} sin( ), {cos(   ÷
1
D
2
D
123
As with any set of identities, the addition formulas provide
important conversion tools for manipulation and
transforming trigonometric expressions into needed forms.
Figu r e 3 . 1 7 on the previous page is our starting point for
developing the addition formula for the quantity
) cos(   + , which states
) sin( ) sin( ) cos( ) cos( ) cos(       ÷ = + .
Using Figu r e 3 . 1 7 , we develop the addition formula via five
steps.
:
1
 Since the angle   + in the first quadrant is equal to
the angle ) (   ÷ + bridging the first and fourth quadrants,
we have the distance equality
2 1
D D = .
:
2
 Use the Pythagorean Theorem (expressed in analytic
geometry form via the 2-D Dis tance Formula) to capture this
equality in algebraic language.
2 2
2 2
2 1
)]} sin( [ ) {sin( )} cos( ) {cos(
} 0 ) {sin( } 1 ) {cos(
)}] sin( ), {cos( )}, sin( ), [{cos(
)] 0 , 1 ( )}, sin( ), [{cos(
   
   
   
   
÷ ÷ + ÷
= ÷ + + ÷ +
¬ ÷
= + +
¬ =
D
D
D D
:
3
 Square both sides of the last expression:
2 2
2 2
)]} sin( [ ) {sin( )} cos( ) {cos(
} 0 ) {sin( } 1 ) {cos(
   
   
÷ ÷ + ÷
= ÷ + + ÷ +
124
:
4
 Square where indicated.
) ( sin ) sin( ) sin( 2 ) ( sin
) ( cos ) cos( ) cos( 2 ) ( cos
) ( sin 1 ) cos( 2 ) ( cos
2 2
2 2
2 2
   
   
     
+ +
+ + ÷
= + + + + ÷ +
:
5
 Use the Pythagorean identity 1 ) ( cos ) ( sin
2 2
= +   , true
for any common angle  , to simply to completion.
÷ = +
¬ +
÷ = + ÷
¬
+ ÷ = + ÷
¬ + + ÷
= + + ÷
¬ + +
+ ÷ +
= + + ÷ + + +
) sin( ) sin( ) cos( ) cos( ) cos(
) sin( ) sin( 2
) cos( ) cos( 2 ) cos( 2
) sin( ) sin( 2
) cos( ) cos( 2 2 ) cos( 2 2
) sin( ) sin( 2 ] 1 [ ) cos( ) cos( 2 ] 1 [
1 ) cos( 2 ] 1 [
) sin( ) sin( 2 )] ( sin ) ( [sin
) cos( ) cos( 2 )] ( cos ) ( [cos
1 ) cos( 2 )] ( sin ) ( [cos
2 2
2 2
2 2
     
 
   
 
   
   
 
   
   
     
The last development, though lengthy, illustrates the
combined power of algebra and existing trigonometric
identities in order to produce new relationships for the
trigonometric functions. Replacing  with  ÷ and noting
that
) sin( ) sin(
& ) cos( ) cos(
 
 
÷ =
÷ =
from Figu r e 3 . 1 7 immediately gives the companion formula
+ = ÷ ) sin( ) sin( ) cos( ) cos( ) cos(      
125
Figu r e 3 . 1 7 can be used as a jumping-off point for
an alternate method for simultaneously developing addition
formulas for ) cos(   + and ) sin(   + . In Figu r e 3 . 1 8 ,
the point )} sin( ), {cos(     + + is decomposed into
components.
Figu r e 3 . 1 8 : An In t r ic a t e Tr igon ome t r ic
De c ompos it i on
This is done by using the fundamental definitions of ) sin(
and ) cos( based on both general right triangles and right
triangles having a hypotenuse of unit length as shown in
Figu r e 3 . 1 6 . The reader is as k ed to f ill in the details on how
the various s ide-lengths in Fi gu re 3 . 1 8 are obtained —a
great practice exercis e f or f acilitating unders tanding of
elementary trigonometric concepts .
) 0 , 0 ( ) 0 , 1 ( 

)} sin( ), {cos(     + +
)} sin( ), {cos(  
) cos(
) sin(
) cos( ) sin(
1
  = y
÷
) cos( ) cos(
1
  = x

) cos( ) sin(
2
  = y
) sin( ) sin(
2
  = x
x
y
126
From Figu r e 3 . 1 8 , we have that
÷ = +
¬ ÷ = +
) sin( ) sin( ) cos( ) cos( ) cos(
) cos(
2 1
     
  x x
and
+ = +
¬ + = +
) cos( ) sin( ) cos( ) sin( ) sin(
) sin(
2 1
     
  y y
.
Using the trigonometric relationships ) cos( ) cos(   ÷ = and
) sin( ) sin(   ÷ = a second time quickly leads to the
companion formula for ) sin(   ÷ :
÷ = ÷ ) cos( ) sin( ) cos( ) sin( ) sin(       .
The addition formula for ) tan(   + is obtained from
the addition formulas for ) sin(   + and ) cos(   + in the
following fashion
¬
÷
+
= +
¬
+
+
= +
) sin( ) sin( ) cos( ) cos(
) cos( ) sin( ) cos( ) sin(
) tan(
) cos(
) sin(
) tan(
   
   
 
 
 
 

÷
+
= +
¬
÷
+
= +
) tan( ) tan( 1
) tan( ) tan(
) tan(
) cos( ) cos(
) sin( ) sin( ) cos( ) cos(
) cos( ) cos(
) cos( ) sin( ) cos( ) sin(
) tan(
 
 
 
 
   
 
   
 
We will leave it to the reader to develop the companion
addition formula for ) tan(   ÷ .
127
The remaining two pillars are the Law of Sines and the La w
of Cos ines . Both laws are extensively used in surveying
work and remote measuring of inaccessible distances,
applications to be discussed in Section 4.3.
Figu r e 3 . 1 9 : Se t u p for t h e La w of Sin e s a n d Cos in e s
Figu r e 3 . 1 9 is the setup diagram for both the Law of Sines
and the Law of Cosines. Let ABC A be a general triangle
and drop a perpendicular from the apex as shown. Then, for
the Law of Sines we have—by the fundamental definition of
) sin( and ) sin( based on a general right triangle—that
=
¬ =
=
¬ =
=
¬ =
) sin( ) sin(
) sin( ) sin( :
) sin(
) sin( :
) sin(
) sin( :
3
2
1
 
 




a b
a b
a h
a
h
b h
b
h



a
b
c y x = +
÷



h
x y
A B
C
128
The last equality is easily extended to include the third
angle  within ABC A leading to our final result.
La w of Sin e s
) sin( ) sin( ) sin(   
c a b
= =
The ratio of the sine of the angle to the side opposite the
angle remains constant within a general triangle.
To develop the Law of Cosines, we proceed as follows
using the same triangle ABC A as a starting point and
recalling that ) sin( b h = .
:
1
 Solve for y and x in terms of the angle 
) cos(
) cos( ) cos(

 
b c y c x
b y
b
y
÷ = ÷ =
¬ = ¬ =
:
2
 Use the Pythagorean Theorem to complete the
development.

÷ + =
¬ = + ÷
¬ = + + ÷
¬ = + ÷
¬ = +
) cos( 2
) cos( 2
) ( sin ) ( cos ) cos( 2
)] sin( [ )] cos( [
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2


  
 
bc b c a
a b bc c
a b b bc c
a b b c
a h x
The last equality is easily extended to include the third
angle  , leading to our final result on the next page.
129
La w of Cos i n e s
) cos( 2
2 2 2
 bc b c a ÷ + =
The square of the side opposite the angle is equal to the
sum of the squares of the two sides bounding the angle
minus twice their product multiplied by the cosine of the
bounded angle.
Similar expressions can be written for the remaining two
sides. We have
) cos( 2
) cos( 2
2 2 2
2 2 2


ac c a b
ab b a c
÷ + =
÷ + =
.
The Law of Cosines serves as a generalized form of the
Pythagorean Theorem. For if any one of the three angles
(say  in particular) is equal to
0
90 , then 0 ) cos( = 
implying that
2 2 2
2 2 2
} 0 { 2
b c a
bc b c a
+ =
¬ ÷ + =
In closing we will say that trigonometry in itself is a
vast topic that justifies its own course. This is indeed how it
is taught throughout the world. A student is first given a
course in elementary trigonometry somewhere in high
school or early college. From there, advanced topics—s uch
as Fourier analy s is of wavef orms and trans mis s ion
phenomena—are introduced on an as-needed basis
throughout college and graduate school. Yet, no matter how
advanced either the s ubject of trigonometry or as s ociated
applications may become, all levels of modern trigonometry
can be directly traced back to the Py thagorean Theorem.
130
3.8) Fer mat ’s Li ne i n t he Sand
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 have turned the Pythagorean
Theorem ‘every which way but loose’. For in these pages, we
have examined it from a variety of different aspects, proved
it in a number of different ways, and developed some far-
reaching applications and extensions. In order to provide a
fitting capstone, we close Chapter 4 with a mathematical
line in the sand, a world-renown result that not only states
that which is impos s ible, but also subtlety implies that the
Pythagorean Theorem is the only example of the pos s ible.
Pierre de Fermat, a Frenchman, was born in the
town of Montauban in 1601. Fermat died in 1665. Like
Henry Perigal whom we met in Section 2.8, Fermat was a
dedicated amateur mathematician by passion, with his full-
time job being that of a mid-level administrator for the
French government. It was Fermat’s passion—over and
above his official societal role—that produced one of the
greatest mathematical conjectures of all time, Fermat’s Las t
Theorem. This theorem was to remain unproved until the
two-year period 1993-1995 when Dr. Andrew Wiles, an
English mathematician working at Princeton, finally verified
the general result via collaboration with Dr. Richard N.
Taylor of The University of California at Irvine.
Note: A PBS s pecial on Fermat’s Las t Theorem revealed that Dr.
Wiles had a life-long pas s ion, s tarting at the age of 12, to be the
mathematician to prove Fermat’s Las t Theorem. Dr. Wiles was in his
early f orties at the time of program taping. Wiles proof of Fermat’s
Las t Theorem is 121 pages long, which exceed the combined length
of Chapters 2 through 4.
So what exactly is Fermat’s Las t Theorem? Before we
answer this question, we will provide a little more historical
background. A Diophantine equation is an algebra equation
whose potential solutions are integers and integers alone.
They were first popularized and studied extensively by the
Greek mathematician Diophantus (250 ACE) who wrote an
ancient text entitled Arithmetica.
131
An example of a Diophantine equation is the Pythagorean
relationship
2 2 2
z y x = + where the solutions z y x , , are
restricted to integers. We examined the problem of finding
integer solutions to
2 2 2
z y x = + in Section 4.2 when we
studied Pythagorean Triples. Likewise, Diophantus himself
examined Pythagorean Triples and wrote about them in his
Arithmetica. The subject of Pythagorean Triples was the
focus of Fermat’s studies sometime in 1637 (as the story
goes) when he pondered a natural extension.
Fe r ma t ’s Fu n d a me n t a l Qu e s t ion
Since many sets of three integers z y x , , exist where
2 2 2
z y x = + , could it be that there exist a set of three
integers z y x , , such that
3 3 3
z y x = + ? What about
4 4 4
z y x = + , etc.
For the cubic relationship
3 3 3
z y x = + , one can come
tantalizingly close as the following five examples show:
1 3753 3230 2676
1 1010 812 791
1 172 138 135
1 144 138 71
1 9 8 6
3 3 3
3 3 3
3 3 3
3 3 3
3 3 3
÷ = +
÷ = +
÷ = +
÷ = +
÷ = +
.
But as we say in present times, almost does not count
except when one is tossing horseshoes or hand grenades.
Fermat must have quickly come to the realization that
3 3 3
z y x = + ,
4 4 4
z y x = + and companions constituted a
series of Diophantine impossibilities, for he formulated the
following in the margin of his copy of Arithmetica.
132
Fe r ma t ’s La s t Th e or e m
The Diophantine equation
n n n
z y x = +
where x , y , z , and n are all integers,
has no nonzero solutions for 2 > n .
Fermat also claimed to have proof, but, alas, it was
too large to fit in the margin of his copy of Arithmetica!
Fermat’s Theorem and the tantalizing reference to a proof
were not to be discovered until after Fermat’s death in
1665. Fermat’s son, Clement-Samuel, discovered his
father’s work concerning Diophantine equations and
published an edition of Arithmetica in 1670 annotated with
his father’s notes and observations.
The impossible integer relationship
2 : > = + n z y x
n n n
became known as Fermat’s Last
Theorem—a theorem that could not be definitively proved or
disproved by counterexample for over 300 years until Wiles
closed this chapter of mathematical history in the two-year
span 1993-1995. To be fair, according to current historians,
Fermat probably had a proof for the case 3 = n and the case
4 = n . But a general proof for all 2 > n was probably
something way out of reach with even the best
mathematical knowledge available in Fermat’s day.
***

133
The Pythagorean relationship
2 2 2
z y x = + forever
stands as the only solvable Diophantine equation having
exactly three variables and like powers. We will call this
‘Fermat’s Line in the Sand’. Then again, suppose we add
more terms on the left-hand side. Is Diophantine equality
possible for power sums having a common exponent 2 > n ,
for example, a nontrivial quartet of integers w z y x , , , where
3 3 3 3
w z y x = + + ?
The German mathematician Leonhard Euler
(1707,1783) studied this issue and made an educated
guess. In his famous Euler’s Conjecture, he simply stated
that the number of terms on the left-hand side needed to
guarantee a Diophantine solution was equal to the power
involved.
Eu le r ’s Con je c t u r e
Suppose } , 1 : { k i x
i
= is a solution set to the Diophantine
equation
n
k
i
n
i
z x =
¯
=1
where
i
x are all integers.
Then we must have that n k > .
At first glance, Euler’s Conjecture seems reasonable. More
terms provide the additional ‘degrees of freedom’ or ‘wiggle
room’ needed to accommodate the more restrictive higher
powers, better raising (no pun intended) one’s chances of
producing an equality. And indeed, equalities are found. For
we have
5 5 5 5 5 5
4 4 4 4 4
3 3 3 3
2 2 2
107 100 80 7 57 43
353 272 315 120 30
6 5 4 3
5 4 3
= + + + +
= + + +
= + +
= +
,
all examples of Euler’s Conjecture.
134
However, Euler’s Conjecture did not stand the test of
time as Fermat’s Last Theorem did. In 1966, Lander and
Parker found a counterexample for 5 = n :
5 5 5 5 5
144 133 110 84 27 = + + +
Two counterexamples for 4 = n followed in 1988. The first
was discovered by Noam Elkies of Harvard. The second, the
smallest possible for a quartet of numbers raised to the
fourth power, was discovered by Roger Frye of Thinking
Machines Corporation.
4 4 4 4
673 , 615 , 20 960 , 187 639 , 465 , 15 440 , 682 , 2 = + +
4 4 4 4
481 , 422 560 , 414 519 , 217 800 , 95 = + +
Today, power sums—both equal and non-equal—provide a
source of mathematical recreation of serious and not-so-
serious amateurs alike. A typical ‘challenge problem’ might
be as follows:
Find s ix pos itive integers z y x w v u , , , , , s atis f y ing the power
s um
7 7 7 7 7 7
z y x w v u + = + + + where the as s ociated linear
s um z y x w v u + + + + + is minimal.
Ta ble 3 . 7 on the next page displays just a few of the
remarkable examples of the various types of power s ums .
With this table, we close Chapter 3 and our examination of
select key spin-offs of the Pythagorean Theorem.

135
# EXPRESSION
1
3 3 3 3
5 4 3 6 + + =
2
3 3 3
1 7 3 371 + + =
3
3 3 3
7 0 4 407 + + =
4
3 2 1
5 3 1 135 + + =
5
3 2 1
5 7 1 175 + + =
6
4 4 4 4
4 3 6 1 1634 + + + =
7
5 3 4 3
5 3 4 3 3435 + + + =
8
3 2 1
8 9 5 598 + + =
9
5 5 5 5 5
8 4 7 4 5 748 , 54 + + + + =
10
2
13 169 = and
2
31 961 =
11
2
45 2025 = and 45 25 20 = +
12
3
17 4913 = and 17 3 1 9 4 = + + +
13
2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1
6 7 6 1 6 7 6 1 1676 + + + = + + + =
14
2 2
33 12 1233 + =
15
2 2
100 990 990100 + =
16
2 2
2353 9412 94122353 + =
17
7 6 5 4 3 2 1
8 9 7 6 4 6 2 2646798 + + + + + + =
18
4 3 2 1
7 2 4 2 2427 + + + =
19
3 3 3
59 18 22 221859 + + =
20
3
) 4 3 ( 343 + =
Ta ble 3 . 7 : Powe r Su ms
136
4) Pear l s of Fun and Wonder
Pearls of ancient mind and wonder,
Time will never pillage, plunder,
Or give your soul to the wor m—
Or worse yet, for nerds to keep
With their mental treasures deep
Where secret squares are cut asunder.
So, come good fun, have a turn,
Bring your gold, build and learn!
April 2005
4.1) Sam Ll oyd’s Tr i angul ar Lake
Sa m Lloyd wa s a fa mou s Amer ica n cr ea t or of
pu zzles , t r icks a n d con u n dr u ms wh o pr odu ced mos t of h is
ma s t er pieces in t h e la t e 1800s . Ma n y of Lloyd’s pu zzles
h a ve s u r vived a n d a ct u a lly t h r ived, h a vin g fou n d t h eir wa y
in t o moder n pu zzle collect ion s . Ma r t in Ga r dn er , of Scien t ific
Amer ica n fa me, h a s been a t r emen dou s pr es er ver of Lloyd’s
lega cy t o r ecr ea t ion a l ma t h ema t ics . Recr ea t ion a l
ma t h ema t ics , on e migh t cla s s ify t h a t ph r a s e a s a n
oxymor on . Yet , ba ck in t h e la t e 1800s , Lloyd’s h eyda y,
people a ct u a lly wor ked pu zzles for even in g r ela xa t ion , mu ch
like we moder n s wa t ch TV or pla y video ga mes . Th e n eed t o
r ela x h a s a lwa ys been t h er e; h ow people fu lfill t h e n eed is
mor e a fu n ct ion of t h e er a in wh ich we live a n d t h e a va ila ble
t ech n ology t h a t en a bles u s t o r ecr ea t e.
On e of Sa m Lloyd’s fa mou s cr ea t ion s is h is
Tr ia n gu la r La ke. Lloyd s u bt let y gives h is r ea der s t wo
ch oices : s olu t ion by s wea t a n d br u t e for ce, or s olu t ion by
clever n es s a n d min ima l effor t . Th e clever s olu t ion r equ ir es
u s e of t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em. Wh a t follows is Lloyd’s
or igin a l s t a t emen t :
“The ques tion I as k our puz z lis ts is to determine how many
acres there would be in that triangular lak e, s urrounded as
s hown in Fi gu re 4 . 1 by s quare plots of 370, 116 and 74
acres .
137
The problem is of peculiar interes t to thos e of a mathematical
turn, in that it gives a pos itive and def inite ans wer to a
propos ition, which, according to us ual methods produces one
of thos e ever-decreas ing, but never-ending decimal f ractions .
Figu r e 4 . 1 : Tr ia n gle La k e a n d Solu t ion
In t h e yea r 2006, t h e Tr ia n gu la r La ke does n ot
r equ ir e a gr ea t dea l of or igin a l t h ou gh t t o s olve. Nowa da ys ,
we wou ld s a y it is a ‘cookie cu t t er ’ pr oblem a n d r equ ir es n o
s wea t wh a t s oever ! On e s imply n eeds t o a pply Her on ’s
for mu la for t r ia n gu la r a r ea , ) )( )( ( a s b s a s s A ÷ ÷ ÷ =
u s in g a moder n elect r on ic ca lcu la t or . Th e a n s wer is
a va ila ble a ft er a few keys t r okes .

00037 . 11 ) 70169 . 10 )( 53369 . 8 )( 06864 . 0 ( 30402 . 19
) )( )( ( :
30402 . 19
2
74 116 370
2
:
60233 . 8 74
,& 77033 . 10 116 , 23538 . 19 370 :
3
2
1
= =
¬ ÷ ÷ ÷ =
=
¬
+ +
=
+ +
=
= =
= = = =
A
a s b s a s s A
s
c b a
s
c
b a



3 7 0
Ac r e s
7 4
Ac r e s 1 1 6
Ac r e s
A
D C B
E
F
5
4
7 1 0
Tr ia n gu la r
La k e
138
We h a ve a ch ieved five-digit a ccu r a cy in t en s econ ds .
Elect r on ic ca lcu la t or s a r e in deed won der fu l, bu t h ow wou ld
on e obt a in t h is a n s wer befor e a n a ge of t ech n ology?
Gr a n t ed, Her on ’s for mu la wa s a va ila ble in 1890, bu t t h e
for mu la n eeded n u mber s t o wor k, n u mber s ph r a s ed in
t er ms of decima l equ iva len t s for t h os e wa r y of r oot s . To
pr odu ce t h es e decima l equ iva len t s wou ld r equ ir e t h e
ma n u a l, la bor iou s ext r a ct ion of t h e t h r ee s qu a r e
r oot s 370 , 116 , a n d 74 , n ot t o men t ion ext r a ct ion t h e
fin a l r oot in Her on ’s For mu la it s elf. Th u s , a decima l
a ppr oa ch wa s pr oba bly n ot a ver y good fir es ide opt ion in
1890. On e wou ld h a ve t o in ject a dos e of clever n es s , a los t
a r t in t oda y’s br u t e-for ce elect r on ic wor ld.
Lloyd’s or igin a l s olu t ion en t a ils a ma s t er fu l
decompos it ion of t h r ee r igh t t r ia n gles . In Figu r e 4 . 1 , t h e
a r ea of t h e t r ia n gu la r la ke is t h e a r ea of ABF A , wh ich we
den ot e a s ABF
A
A .
Now:
EFCD R FBC AFE ABD ABF
A A A A A
÷ A ÷ A ÷ A = A .
For ABD A , we h a ve t h a t
370
370 17 9
2 2
2
2 2 2
=
¬ = + =
¬ + =
AB
AB
DB DA AB
Not ice Lloyd wa s a ble t o clever ly con s t r u ct a r igh t t r ia n gle
wit h t wo per pen dicu la r s ides (ea ch of in t egr a l len gt h )
pr odu cin g a h ypot en u s e of t h e n eeded len gt h 370 . Th is
wa s n ot a ll h e did!
For AFE A , we h a ve t h a t
74 74 7 5
2 2
2
2 2 2
= ¬ = + =
¬ + =
AF AF
EF EA AF
139
Fin a lly, for FBC A
116 116 10 4
2 2
2
2 2 2
= ¬ = + =
¬ + =
FB FB
CB CF FB
Th u s , ou r t h r ee t r ia n gles ABD A , AFE A , a n d FBC A for m
t h e bou n da r y of t h e Tr ia n gu la r La ke. Th e a r ea of t h e
Tr ia n gu la r La ke dir ect ly follows
= ÷ ÷ ÷ = A
¬ ÷ A ÷ A ÷ A = A
11 ) 7 )( 4 ( ) 10 )( 4 ( ) 7 )( 5 ( ) 17 )( 9 (
2
1
2
1
2
1
ABF
EFCD R FBC AFE ABD ABF
A
A A A A A
.
Th e t r u t h of Lloyd’s pr oblem s t a t emen t is n ow eviden t : to
thos e of a mathematical turn, the number 11 is a very
pos itive and def initive ans wer not s ullied by an irrational
decimal expans ion.
On e migh t a s k if it is pos s ible t o ‘gr in d t h r ou gh ’
Her on ’s for mu la a n d a r r ive a t 11 u s in g t h e s qu a r e r oot s a s
is . Obviou s ly, du e t o t h e a lgebr a ic complexit y, Lloyd wa s
cou n t in g on t h e pu zzler t o give u p on t h is mor e br u t e-for ce
dir ect a ppr oa ch a n d r es or t t o s ome s or t of clever n es s .
However , it is pos s ible t o gr in d! Below is t h e compu t a t ion a l
s equ en ce, a n a lgebr a ic n igh t ma r e in deed.
Note: I happen to agree with Lloy d’s ‘forcing to clevernes s ’ in that I
have given s tudents a s imilar computational exercis e for y ears . In
this exercis e requiring logarithm us e, electronic calculators are
deliberately rendered us eles s due to overf low or underf low of
derived numerical quantities . Students mus t res ort to ‘old f as hion’
clever us e of logarithms in order to complete the computations
involving extreme numbers .
2
74 116 370
2
:
74 ,& 116 , 370 :
2
1
+ +
=
+ +
=
= = =
c b a
s
c b a


140
¬
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
÷ + + +
· ÷ +
=
¬
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
÷ + ÷ +
· ÷ + + +
=
¬ ÷ ÷ ÷ =
2
1
2
2
1
3
) 116 74 370 )( 116 74 370 (
) 370 ] 74 116 ([
4
1
) 116 74 370 )( 74 370 116 (
) 370 74 116 )( 370 74 116 (
4
1
) )( )( ( :
A
A
a s b s a s s A 

{ }
{ } { }
{ } = = =
¬ ÷ = ÷ =
¬ + · ÷ =
¬
¦
¦
)
¦
¦
`
¹
¦
¦
¹
¦
¦
´
¦
÷ +
+ + ÷ ÷
÷ +
· ÷ + +
=
11
4
44
1936
4
1
400 , 32 336 , 34
4
1
180 ) 74 )( 116 ( 4
4
1
) 180 74 116 2 ( ) 180 74 116 2 (
4
1
) 116 74 116 370 116
116 74 74 370 74
116 370 74 370 370 (
) 370 74 74 116 2 116 (
4
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
2
1
2
1
A
A
A
A
141
4.2) Pyt hagor ean Magi c Squar es
A magic s quare is a n a r r a y of cou n t in g n u mber s
(pos it ive in t eger s ) geomet r ica lly a r r a n ged in a s qu a r e.
Figu r e 4 . 2 s h ows a 4X4 ma gic s qu a r e. Wh er e is t h e ma gic
in t h is s qu a r e?
1 15 6 12
8 10 3 13
11 5 16 2
14 4 9 7
Figu r e 4 . 2 : Pu r e a n d Pe r fe c t 4 X4 Ma gic Squ a r e
An s wer : if on e a dds t h e fou r n u mber s in a n y on e r ow, a n y
on e colu mn , or a lon g a n y on e of t h e t wo dia gon a ls —t ot a lin g
10 differ en t wa ys —on e will obt a in t h e s a me n u mber 34 for
ea ch s u m s o don e, ca lled t h e magic s um.
Normal or Pure Magic Squares a r e ma gic s qu a r es wh er e t h e
n u mber s in t h e lit t le s qu a r es a r e con s ecu t ive cou n t in g
n u mber s s t a r t in g wit h on e. Perf ect 4X4 Magic Squares a r e
ma gic s qu a r es h a vin g ma n y a ddit ion a l fou r -n u mber
pa t t er n s t h a t s u m t o 34, s uch as the f our corners of any
s maller s quare embedded in the 4x4 s quare. Figu r e 4 . 3
depict s a s a mplin g of fou r -n u mber pa t t er n s t h a t s u m t o 34
for t h e ma gic s qu a r e s h own in Figu r e 4 . 2 .
142
X X X X O X X O X X
O X X O O O
O X O X O O
O O O O O X O X X X
X X X X X O X O
X X O O X O O X
O O X X O X O X
O O O O O X X O
X X O O O X X X
X X X X X O O O
O O X X X O X X
O O O O O X O O
Figu r e 4 . 3 : 4 X4 Ma gic Pa t t e r n s
Th e 4X4 ma gic s qu a r e h a s wit h in it s ever a l s u m-of-
s qu a r es a n d s u m-of-cu bes equ a lit ies t h a t pr ovide a ddit ion a l
exa mples of power s u ms a s dis cu s s ed in Sect ion 3.8.
1. Th e s u m of t h e s qu a r es in t h e fir s t r ow equ a ls t h e s u m
of t h e s qu a r es in t h e fou r t h r ow: A s imila r equ a lit y
h olds for t h e s econ d a n d t h ir d r ows .
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
7 9 4 14 12 6 15 1 + + + = + + +
2. Th e s u m of t h e s qu a r es in t h e fir s t colu mn equ a ls t h e
s u m of t h e s qu a r es in t h e fou r t h colu mn . A s imila r
equ a lit y h olds for t h e s econ d a n d t h ir d colu mn s .
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
7 2 13 12 14 11 8 1 + + + = + + +
3. Th e s u m of t h e cu bes for t h e n u mber s on t h e t wo
dia gon a ls equ a ls t h e s u m of t h e cu bes for t h e n u mber s
r ema in in g wit h in t h e s qu a r e:
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
8 11 4 9 2 13 6 15
12 3 5 14 7 16 10 1
+ + + + + + +
= + + + + + + +
Th e r ea der is in vit ed t o ver ify a ll t h r ee power s u ms !
143
Ma gic s qu a r es of a ll t ypes h a ve in t r igu ed ma t h
en t h u s ia s t s for deca des . Wh a t you s ee below in Figu r e 4 . 4
is a Pyt h a gor ea n ma s t er piece t h a t cou ples t h r ee ma gic
s qu a r es of differ en t s izes (or orders ) wit h t h e t r u t h of t h e
Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em. Roya l Va le Hea t h , a well-kn own
Br it is h pu zzle ma ker , cr ea t ed t h is won der in En gla n d pr ior
t o 1930. Of t h e fift y n u mber s u s ed in t ot a l, n on e a ppea r s
mor e t h a n on ce.
THE PYTHAGOREAN 3 -4 -5 WONDER SET OF
THREE MAGIC SQUARES
5X5 ma gic su m is a ls o
174. Squ a re t h e s u m of
t wen t y-five n u mber s t o
obt a in 756,900
4X4 ma gic su m is
a ls o 174. Squ a re
t h e s u m of s ixt een
n u mber s t o
obt a in 484,416
16 22 28 34 74
3X3 ma gic
s u m is 174.
Squ a r e t he
s u m of n in e
n u mber s t o
obt a in
272,484
36 43 48 47 33 73 20 21 27
61 54 59 49 46 37 42 25 26 32 72 19
56 58 60 39 40 51 44 71 18 24 30 31
57 62 55 50 45 38 41 29 35 70 17 23
2 2 2
5 4 3 = + & 900 , 756 416 , 484 484 , 272 = + !
Figu r e 4 . 4 : Pyt h a gor e a n Ma gic Squ a r e s
144
4.3) Ear t h, Moon, Sun, and St ar s
In t h is s ect ion , we move a wa y fr om r ecr ea t ion a l u s e
of t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em a n d ba ck t o t h e ph ys ica l wor ld
a n d u n iver s e in wh ich we live. In doin g s o, we will exa min e
t h e power of t r igon omet r y a s a t ool t o mea s u r e dis t a n ces . In
pa r t icu la r , we a r e in t er es t ed in inacces s ible or remote
dis tances , dis t a n ces t h a t we ca n n ot ‘r ea ch ou t a n d t ou ch ’ in
or der t o mea s u r e dir ect ly.
Th e fir s t exa mple is det er min in g t h e h eigh t H of t h e
fla gpole in fr on t of t h e loca l h igh s ch ool. A plet h or a of
Amer ica n t r igon omet r y s t u den t s t h r ou gh ou t t h e yea r s h a ve
been s en t ou t s ide t o mea s u r e t h e h eigh t of t h e pole,
obviou s ly a n in a cces s ible dis t a n ce u n les s you en t ice t h e
lit t le gu y t o s h immy u p t h e pole a n d dr op a plu mb bob. Be
ca r efu l, for t h e pr in cipa l ma y be lookin g!
Figu r e 4 . 5 illu s t r a t es h ow we mea s u r ed t h a t old
s ch oolh ou s e fla gpole u s in g t h e elemen t a r y idea s of
t r igon omet r y. We wa lked ou t a kn own dis t a n ce fr om t h e
ba s e of pole a n d s igh t ed t h e a n gle fr om t h e h or izon t a l t o t h e
t op of t h e pole.
Figu r e 4 . 5 : Th e Sc h oolh ou s e Fla gpole
Note: Students us ually performed this s ighting with a hand-made
device cons is ting of a protractor and a pivoting s oda s traw . In
actual s urvey ing, a s ophis ticated ins trument called a theodolite is
us ed to accomplis h the s ame end.
5 0
0
B=2 5 ft 5 ft
H?
A
145
On ce t h es e t wo mea s u r emen t s a r e t a ken , t h e h eigh t of t h e
fla gpole ea s ily follows if on e a pplies t h e elemen t a r y
defin it ion of tan , a s given in Sect ion 3.7, t o t h e r igh t
t r ia n gle depict ed in Figu r e 4 . 5 t o obt a in t h e u n kn own
len gt h A.
= + =
= · =
¬ · =
¬ =
ft ft ft H
ft ft A
ft A
ft
A
79 . 34 5 79 . 29 :
79 . 29 ) 19176 . 1 ( ) 25 (
) 50 tan( ) 25 (
) 50 tan(
25
:
2
0
0
1


A common mis t a ke is t h e fa ilu r e t o a dd t h e h eigh t fr om
gr ou n d level t o t h e eleva t ion of t h e s igh t in g in s t r u men t .
Figu r e 4 . 6 s h ows a ma r ked in cr ea s e in complexit y
over t h e pr eviou s exa mple. Her e t h e object ive is t o mea s u r e
t h e h eigh t H of a h is t or ic win dmill t h a t h a s been fen ced off
fr om vis it or s . To a ccomplis h t h is mea s u r emen t via t h e
t ech n iqu es of t r igon omet r y, t wo a n gu la r mea s u r emen t s a r e
ma de 25 feet a pa r t r es u lt in g in t wo t r ia n gles a n d a s s ocia t ed
ba s e a n gles a s s h own .
Figu r e 4 . 6 : Off-Limit s Win dmill
5 0
0
B=2 5 ft 5 f
H?
A
6 5
0
X
146
Th e fou r -s t ep s olu t ion follows . All lin ea r mea s u r emen t s a r e
in feet .
= + =
= ¬ =
¬ + =
¬

+ =
¬ + =
= ¬ =
¬ =
+ =
¬ · + =
¬ · + =
¬ =
+
ft ft A H
ft A A
A A
A
A
X A
A
X X A
X
A
X A
X A
X A
X
A
05 . 72 5 :
. 05 . 67 79 . 29 44427 . 0
55573 . 79 . 29
14451 . 2
19176 . 1 79 . 29
19176 . 1 79 . 29 :
14451 . 2
14451 . 2
) 65 tan( :
19176 . 1 79 . 29
) 19176 . 1 ( ) 25 (
) 50 tan( ) 25 (
) 50 tan(
25
:
4
3
0
2
0
0
1




Ou r n ext down-to-earth exa mple is t o fin d t h e
s t r a igh t -lin e dis t a n ce L t h r ou gh a pa t ch of t h or n s a n d
n et t les —mos t defin it ely a n in a cces s ible dis t a n ce—a s s h own
in Figu r e 4 . 7 .
Figu r e 4 . 7 : Ac r os s t h e Th or n s a n d Ne t t le s
A=1 0 0 ft
B= 1 2 0 ft
L?
Th or n s a n d
n et t les .
0
40 = 
147
Fin din g t h e in a cces s ible dis t a n ce L r equ ir es t h e mea s u r in g
of t h e t wo a cces s ible dis t a n ces A & B a n d in clu ded a n gle  .
On ce t h es e mea s u r emen t s a r e obt a in ed, t h e La w of Cos in es
is dir ect ly u t ilized t o fin d L.

= ¬ =
¬ ÷ + =
¬ ÷ + =
ft L L
L
AB B A L
556 . 77 93 . 6014
) 40 cos( ) 120 )( 100 ( 2 120 100
) cos( 2 :
2
0 2 2 2
2 2 2
1
 
---
Ou r n ext mea s u r emen t , mu ch mor e a mbit iou s , wa s
fir s t per for med by Er a t os t h en es (275-194 BCE), t h e
Dir ect or of t h e Alexa n dr ia n Libr a r y in Egypt . Er a t os t h en es
in ven t ed a n in gen iou s met h odology for det er min in g t h e
ea r t h ’s cir cu mfer en ce. His met h odology u t ilized ba s ic
t r igon omet r ic pr in ciples in con ju n ct ion wit h t h r ee
u n der lyin g a s s u mpt ion s qu it e a dva n ced for h is t ime:
1) Th e ea r t h wa s r ou n d
2) Wh en s u n r a ys fin a lly r ea ch ed t h e ea r t h a ft er
t r a velin g acros s the unk nown void , t h ey a r r ived a s
pa r a llel bea ms .
3) Alexa n dr ia a n d t h e t own of Syen e (500 miles t o t h e
Sou t h ) fell on t h e s a me mer idia n : a n a s s u mpt ion n ot
qu it e cor r ect a s s h own in Figu r e 4 . 8 .
Figu r e 4 . 8 : Er a t os t h e n e s ’ Egypt
Ale xa n dr ia
Sye n e
(As wa n )
Nile
148
Figu r e 4 . 9 depict s Er a t os t h en es ’ met h odology. A mir r or
wa s pla ced a t t h e bot t om of a deep well a t Syen e. Th is
mir r or wou ld r eflect ba ck t h e r a ys of t h e n oon da y s u n t o a n
obs er ver du r in g t h a t t ime of yea r wh en t h e s u n wa s s h in in g
dir ect ly over h ea d. Th is wa s t ime cor r ela t ed wit h a s econ d
obs er va t ion a t Alexa n dr ia wh er e t h e s h a dow len gt h of a n
obelis k (of kn ow h eigh t ) wa s mea s u r ed a llowin g
det er min a t ion of t h e s u n ’s in ciden t a n gle.
Figu r e 4 . 9 : Er a t os t h e n e s Me a s u r e s t h e Ea r t h
Er a t os t h en es r ea s on ed t h a t t h e cir cu mfer en t ia l dis t a n ce
fr om t h e obelis k a t Alexa n dr ia t o t h e well a t Syen e (500
miles ) r epr es en t ed
0
2 . 7 of t h e ea r t h ’s cir cu mfer en ce. A
s imple pr opor t ion wa s t h en s olved a llowin g t h e
det er min a t ion of t h e ea r t h ’s t ot a l cir cu mfer en ce C. Th e
ea r t h ’s r a diu s R ea s ily followed.
miles
miles
R
miles C
C
miles
O
O
3979
2
000 , 25
:
000 , 25
500
360
2 . 7
:
2
1
= =
= ¬ =



Er a t os t h en es ca me ver y clos e t o moder n mea s u r emen t s
(Th e ea r t h ’s mea n r a diu s is miles 3959 ) by t h is in gen iou s
met h od n ow well over 2000 yea r s old. It is a s olid exa mple
of ma t h ema t ics a n d n a t u r a l s cien ce t ea min g t o pr odu ce a
miles t on e of r a t ion a l t h ou gh t in t h e h is t or y of h u ma n it y.
Parallel Sunray s
Parallel Sunray s
Sh a dow
Obelis k a t
Alexa n dr ia
7 . 2
0
7 . 2
0
Well a t
Syen e
Mir r or
Su n
R & C=?
149
On ce we kn ow t h e mea s u r emen t of t h e ea r t h ’s r a diu s , we
ca n immedia t ely u s e t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em t o ca lcu la t e
t h e view dis t a n ce V t o a n u n obs t r u ct ed h or izon a s a
fu n ct ion of t h e obs er ver ’s h eigh t H a bove t h e ea r t h ’s
s u r fa ce, Figu r e 4 . 1 0 .
Figu r e 4 . 1 0 : Vie w Dis t a n c e t o Ea r t h ’s Hor i zon
Th e view-dis t a n ce ca lcu la t ion pr oceeds a s follows .
2
2 2
2 2 2 2
2 2 2
2
2
2
) (
H RH V
H RH V
H RH R R V
H R R V
+ =
¬ + =
¬ + + = +
¬ + = +
Ta ble 4 . 1 gives s elect view dis t a n ces t o t h e h or izon a s a
fu n ct ion of viewer a lt it u de.
H V H V
5 ft . 2.73 miles 100,000 ft
387.71
miles
100 ft 12.24 miles 150 miles 1100 miles
1000ft 38.73 miles 1000 miles 2986 miles
30,000 ft 212.18 miles R=3959 miles
R 3
Ta ble 4 . 1 : Vie w Dis t a n c e ve r s u s Alt it u de
R
R+H
V
Ea r t h
150
---
High a bove t h e ea r t h , we s ee t h e moon h a n gin g in
t h e even in g s ky a t a n a n gle a n d in clin a t ion t h a t va r ies
a ccor din g t o la t it u de, da t e, a n d t ime. Th e a n cien t Gr eeks
wer e t h e fir s t t o mea s u r e t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e moon a n d t h e
moon ’s dia met er . Th ey a ct u a lly did t h is u s in g s ever a l
differ en t wa ys . We will follow s u it by employin g t h e moder n
La w of Sin es , u t ilizin g it on e of t h e s a me geocen t r ic s et u ps
t h a t t h e Gr eeks u s ed 2000 yea r s a go in or der t o ma ke t h es e
t wo a s t r on omica l det er min a t ion s . Toda y, ou r in s t r u men t of
ch oice wou ld be a t h eodolit e in or der t o ma ke t h e n eeded
pr ecis ion a n gu la r mea s u r emen t s . Th e Gr eeks a ct u a lly h a d
a n a n cien t ver s ion of t h e s a me in s t r u men t , ca lled a n
a s t r ola be, wh ich a llowed t h em t o ma ke t h e n eeded
mea s u r emen t s in t h eir da y. Figu r e 4 . 1 1 s h ows ou r s et u p
for bot h mea s u r emen t s .
Figu r e 4 . 1 1 : Me a s u r in g t h e Moon
In or der t o mea s u r e t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e moon , fir s t
pick t wo poin t s B a n d D on t h e ea r t h ’s s u r fa ce a kn own
dis t a n ce a pa r t . Figu r e 4 . 1 1 s u gges t s 1000 miles , r ou gh ly
t h e dis t a n ce t h a t t h e Gr eeks u s ed. Bot h poin t s n eed t o
h a ve eit h er t h e s a me la t it u de or t h e s a me lon git u de. In t h e
Un it ed St a t es , t wo poin t s of equ a l la t it u de (s u ch a s 40
0
N)
a r e pr oba bly a t a d ea s ily t o loca t e t h a n t wo poin t s of s imila r
lon git u de. Poin t D s h ou ld cor r es pon d t o a t ime of n igh t
wh er e t h e f ull moon is s t r a igh t over h ea d or s qu a r ely in t h e
middle of t h e eclipt ic a s s igh t ed by u s e of a n a s t r ola be wit h
t h e s igh t in g poin t s qu a r ely in t h e cen t er of t h e moon ’s dis k.
Moo
n
Ea rt h
0 . 2 3 6 2 0
0
3 9 5 9 mile s
0 . 5
0
1 4 . 4 7 2 2 8
0
Su r fa ce dis t a n ce
fr om B t o D is
1000miles
A
B
Obelis k for mea s u r in g t h e Moon ’s
s h a dow in th e a bs en ce of a n a st r ola be
C
D
F 1 4 . 4 7 2 2 8
0
0 . 2 3 6 2 0
0
Moon
151
Simu lt a n eou s ly, a n obs er ver a t poin t B wou ld s igh t t h e
cen t er of t h e moon ’s dis k a n d a s cer t a in t h e ext er ior a n gle
FBC Z a t s h own . Moder n ema il wou ld ma ke t h is a n excit in g
exer cis e for a ma t eu r a s t r on omer s or h igh s ch ool s t u den t s
s in ce t h es e mea s u r emen t s ca n be commu n ica t ed
in s t a n t a n eou s ly. Th e a n cien t Gr eeks h a d n o s u ch lu xu r y in
t h a t t h ey h a d t o pr e-a gr ee a s t o a da t e a n d t ime t h a t t wo
obs er ver s wou ld ma ke t h e n eeded mea s u r emen t s . Sever a l
weeks a ft er t h a t , in for ma t ion wou ld be exch a n ged a n d t h e
ca lcu la t ion s per for med.
By t h e La w of Sin es , we ca n fin d t h e dis t a n ce BC t o
t h e moon per t h e followin g compu t a t ion a l s equ en ce.
miles BC
miles
BC
miles BC
BCD
AB
BAD
BC
5 . 002 , 240
) 47228 . 14 sin(
) 23620 . 0 sin(
3959
) 23620 . 0 sin(
3959
) 47228 . 14 sin(
) sin( ) sin(
0
0
0 0
=
¬

=
¬ =
¬
Z
=
Z
Not ice t h a t t h e r a t io of t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e r a diu s of t h e
ea r t h is given by t h e expr es s ion
62 . 60 =
AB
BC
,
a t r a dit ion a l va lu e fir s t obt a in ed by t h e Gr eeks a ft er s ever a l
r efin emen t s a n d it er a t ion s .
On ce we h a ve t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e moon , we ca n
ea s ily ca lcu la t e t h e r a diu s of t h e moon . St a n d a t poin t D
a n d mea s u r e t h e s weep a n gle bet ween t h e moon ’s t wo limbs
s igh t in g t h r ou gh a dia met er .
152
Th e common ly a ccept ed va lu e is a bou t
2
1
degr ee, obt a in ed
by h oldin g ou t you r t h u mb a n d, by doin g s o, ba r ely
cover in g t h e lu n a r dis k. Ta kin g exa ct ly h a lf of
0
5 . 0 t o
complet e on e ver y h u ge r igh t t r ia n gle, we obt a in
miles R D
miles R
miles
R
moon moon
moon
moon
2094 2
1047
) 25 . 0 tan(
5 . 002 , 240
0
= =
¬ =
¬ =
Th e ca lcu la t ed dia met er miles 2094 is 66 miles s h y of t h e
t r u e va lu e. To illu s t r a t e t h e a n gu la r s en s it ivit y a s s ocia t ed
wit h t h es e r es u lt s , s u ppos e mor e s oph is t ica t ed
in s t r u men t a t ion in dica t es t h a t t h e s weep a n gle bet ween t h e
t wo lu n a r limbs is a ct u a lly
0
515 . 0 , a n in cr ea s e of % 3 .
Revis in g t h e pr eviou s gives
miles D
miles R
miles
R
moon
moon
moon
26 . 2157
63 . 1078
) 2575 . 0 tan(
5 . 002 , 240
0
=
¬ =
¬ =
n ow on ly a cou ple of miles s h y of t h e t r u e va lu e. Wh en
dea lin g wit h t in y a n gles , pr ecis ion in s t r u men t a t ion is t h e
key t o a ccu r a t e r es u lt s . However , t h e u n der lyin g
Pyt h a gor ea n in fr a s t r u ct u r e is s t ill t h e s a me fou r millen n ia
a ft er it s in cept ion !
---
We will n ow u s e t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e moon t o obt a in
t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e s u n . Like a s er ies of celes t ia l s t eppin g-
s t on es , on e in a cces s ible dis t a n ce lea ds t o a s econ d
in a cces s ible dis t a n ce, ea ch s u cceedin g dis t a n ce mor e
ext r eme t h a n t h e pr eviou s on e.
153
Figu r e 4 . 1 2 : Fr om Moon t o Su n
Gr eek a s t r on omer s kn ew t h a t t h e moon r eflect ed s u n ligh t
in or der t o s h in e. Us in g t h e cos mologica l model s h own in
Figu r e 4 . 1 2 , t h e Gr eeks s u r mis ed t h a t
0
90 = ZABC
du r in g t h e fir s t qu a r t er moon (h a lf da r k-h a lf ligh t ). By
con s t r u ct in g t h e h u ge ima gin a r y t r ia n gle ABC A , t h e moon -
t o-s u n dis t a n ce BC cou ld be obt a in ed by t h e s imple
for mu la
) tan( BAC
BA
BC
Z =
a s s u min g t h a t t h e a n gle BAC Z cou ld be a ccu r a t ely
mea s u r ed. Th e Gr eeks t r ied a n d obt a in ed a bes t va lu e of
0
87 = ZBAC , a bou t s ix t h u mb widt h s a wa y fr om t h e
ver t ica l. Moder n in s t r u men t a t ion gives t h e va lu e a s
0
85 . 89 = ZBAC . Th e n ext compu t a t ion is a compa r is on of
bot h t h e a n cien t a n d moder n va lu es for t h e moon -t o-s u n
dis t a n ce u s in g t h e t wo a n gu la r mea s u r emen t s in Figu r e
4 . 1 2 .
Note: Staring directly into the s un is a very dangerous propos ition,
s o the Greek s were quite naturally limited in their ability to refine
‘s ix thumb w idths ’.
A
B
C
Modern CAB
Greek CAB
: 85 . 89
: 87
0
0
= Z
= Z
154
miles BC
BC
miles BC
BC
BAC BA BC
BAC
BA
BC
7 . 992 , 673 , 91
) 85 . 89 tan( ) 5 . 002 , 240 ( :
5 . 520 , 579 , 4
) 87 tan( ) 5 . 002 , 240 (
) tan(
) tan( :
0
2
0
1
=
¬ · =
=
¬ · =
¬ Z =
¬ Z =


Ou r ‘ba ck-of-t h e-en velope’ compu t ed va lu e h a s t h e s u n
a bou t 382 t imes fu r t h er a wa y fr om t h e ea r t h t h a n t h e
moon . By con t r a s t , t h e Gr eek es t ima t e wa s a bou t 19 t imes ,
a s er iou s u n der es t ima t e. However , even wit h a n
u n der es t ima t e, it is impor t a n t t o u n der s t a n d t h a t Gr eek
geomet r y—a ga in , Pyt h a gor ea n geomet r y—wa s bein g u s ed
cor r ect ly. Th e fa ilin g wa s n ot h a vin g s oph is t ica t ed
in s t r u men t a t ion . Kn owin g t h e dis t a n ce t o t h e s u n , on e ca n
ea s ily obt a in t h e s u n ’s dia met er , wh os e dis k a ls o s pa n s
a ppr oxima t ely
0
5 . 0 .
Note: The s un and moon have the s ame apparent s iz e in the s k y
mak ing s olar eclips es pos s ible.
miles D
miles R
miles
R
sun
sun
Sun
58 . 011 , 800
79 . 005 , 400
) 25 . 0 tan(
7 . 992 , 673 , 91
0
=
¬ =
¬ =
Us ing Fi gu re 4 . 1 1 , we invite the reader to calculate the earth-to-
s un dis tance us ing the Py thagorean Theorem and the modern value
of the moon-to-s un dis tance s hown above.
---
155
Figu r e 4 . 1 3 : Fr om Su n t o Alph a Ce n t a u r i
Ear t h, Moon, Sun, and St ar s, t h e s ect ion t it le h in t s a t a
pr ogr es s ive jou r n ey u s in g ever -in cr ea s in g s t eppin g s t on es .
Th e Gr eeks wer e limit ed t o t h e kn own s ola r s ys t em.
St a r t in g in t h e 1800s , in cr ea s in gly s oph is t ica t ed
a s t r on omica l in s t r u men t a t ion ma de det er min a t ion of s t ella r
dis t a n ces pos s ible by a llowin g t h e mea s u r emen t of ver y t in y
a n gles ju s t a few s econ ds in s ize, a s depict ed via t h e mu ch
ma gn ified a n gle  in Figu r e 4 . 1 3 . Fr om t h e mea s u r emen t
of t in y a n gles a n d t h e bu ildin g of h u ge ima gin a r y
in t er s t ella r t r ia n gles , a s t r on omer s cou ld a s cer t a in
t r emen dou s dis t a n ces u s in g a Pyt h a gor ea n -ba s ed met h od
ca lled t h e parallax technique. Figu r e 4 . 1 3 illu s t r a t es t h e
u s e of t h e pa r a lla x t ech n iqu e t o fin d t h e dis t a n ce t o ou r
n ea r es t s t ella r n eigh bor , Alph a Cen t a u r i, a bou t ly 2 . 4 (ligh t
yea r s ) fr om t h e s u n .
Th e pos it ion of t h e t a r get s t a r , in t h is ca s e Alph a Cen t a r i, is
mea s u r ed fr om t wo dia met r ica lly oppos it e poin t s on t h e
ea r t h ’s or bit . Th e differ en ce in a n gu la r loca t ion a ga in s t a
ba ckdr op of mu ch fa r t h er ‘fixed’ s t a r s is ca lled t h e pa r a lla x
a n gle  . Ha lf t h e pa r a lla x a n gle is t h en u s ed t o compu t e t h e
dis t a n ce t o t h e s t a r by t h e expr es s ion
A
B D
C
Ea rt h a t poin t C in its
or bit a bou t t h e s u n
Ea rt h a t poin t A, s ix mon t h s la ter
a n d dia met r ica lly oppos ite C
Su n
Alph a
Cen t a u r i

2
1

2
1
Pa r a lla x a n gle>
156
) tan(
2
1

AC
BD =
Even for t h e clos es t s t a r Alph a Cen t a u r i, pa r a lla x a n gles a r e
ext r emely s ma ll. For miles AC 000 , 000 , 184 = a n d
ly BD 2 . 4 = or miles 000 , 320 , 592 , 463 , 2 , we h a ve
0
0 1
2
1
2
1
2
1
00085586 . 0
00042793 . 0 ) 00000747 . 0 ( tan
00000747 . 0
000 , 320 , 592 , 463 , 2
000 , 000 , 184
) tan(
) tan(
=
¬ = =
¬ = =
¬ =
÷




BD
AC
Th e fin a l pa r a lla x va lu e is les s t h a n on e-t h ou s a n dt h
of a degr ee. It con ver t s t o ju s t 4 . 2 ' ' s econ ds . Bein g a ble t o
det er min e a n gles t h is s ma ll a n d s ma ller is a t es t imon y t o
t h e a ccu r a cy of moder n a s t r on omica l in s t r u men t a t ion . As
Figu r e 4 . 1 3 wou ld h in t , Sma ller va lu es of pa r a lla x a n gles
imply even gr ea t er dis t a n ces . For exa mple, a s t a r wh er e
ly BD 600 = (Bet elgeu s e in Or ion is ly 522 fr om ou r s u n )
r equ ir es t h e mea s u r emen t of a in cr edibly s ma ll pa r a lla x
a n gle wh os e va lu e is
0
00000599 . 0 =  .
Th e ins tantaneous elliptical diameter AC a ls o n eeds
pr ecis ion mea s u r emen t in con ju n ct ion wit h t h e pa r a lla x
a n gle for a given s t a r . In t h e pr ecedin g exa mples , we
r ou n ded 7 . 992 , 673 , 91 t o t h e n ea r es t million a n d dou bled,
wh ich r es u lt ed in miles AC 000 , 000 , 184 = . For pr ecis e wor k
in a r es ea r ch or a ca demic en vir on men t , AC wou ld n eed t o
be gr ea t ly r efin ed.
157
4.4) Phi , PI , and Spi r al s
Ou r la s t s ect ion br iefly in t r odu ces t h r ee t opics t h a t
will a llow t h e r ea der t o decide u pon opt ion s for fu r t h er
r ea din g a n d explor a t ion . Th e fir s t is t h e Golden Ra t io, or
Ph i. Coequ a l t o t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em in t er ms of
ma t h ema t ica l br ea dt h a n d a pplica bilit y t o t h e n a t u r a l
wor ld, t h e Golden Ra t io des er ves a book in it s own r igh t ,
a n d in deed s ever a l books h a ve been wr it t en (s ee
Refer en ces ). In t h e dis cu s s ion t h a t follows , we br iefly
in t r odu ce t h e Golden Ra t io a n d explor e t wo in s t a n ces wh er e
t h e Golden Ra t io fin ds it s wa y in t o r igh t a n d n on -r igh t
t r ia n gles .
Figu r e 4 . 1 4 : Th e Golde n Ra t io
Let s be t h e s emi-per imet er of a r ect a n gle wh os e
widt h a n d h eigh t a r e in t h e pr opor t ion s h own in Figu r e
4 . 1 4 . Th is pr opor t ion defin es t h e Golden Ra t io, pr a is ed by
a r t is t s a n d s cien t is t s a like. Th e equ a t ion in Figu r e 4 . 1 4
r edu ces t o a qu a dr a t ic equ a t ion via t h e s equ en ce
0 3
2
) (
2 2
2 2
2
= + ÷
¬ + ÷ =
¬ ÷ =
w sw s
w sw s sw
w s sw
Solvin g (left t o r ea der ) gives t h e followin g va lu es for t h e
widt h a n d h eigh t :
w s h ÷ =
w
s
w s
w s
w ÷
=
÷
158
s w s w s h
s w s w
61804 . 0
2
1 5
& 38196 . 0
2
5 3
= ¬

÷
= ÷ =
= ¬

÷
=
Th e Golden Ra t io, s ymbolized by t h e Gr eek let t er Ph i ( ), is
t h e r ecipr oca l of
2
1 5 ÷
, given by 61804 . 1
2
1 5
=
+
.
Figu r e 4 . 1 5 : Two Golde n Tr ia n gle s
As s t a t ed, t h e Golden Ra t io per mea t es ma t h ema t ics
a n d s cien ce t o t h e s a me ext en t a s t h e Pyt h a gor ea n
Th eor em. Figu r e 4 . 1 5 depict s t wo a ppea r a n ces in a
t r ia n gu la r con t ext , ma kin g t h em s u it a ble in clu s ion s for t h is
book.
Tr ia n gle ABC A on t h e left is a r igh t t r ia n gle wh er e
t h e ver t ica l s ide h a s len gt h ab equ a l t o t h e geomet r ic
mea n of t h e h ypot en u s e a a n d t h e h or izon t a l s ide b .
a
b
ab
A
B
C
C
B
A D
0
72
0
72
0
36
0
36
0
36
0
108
a
a
a
b
159
By t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em, we h a ve:
= ¬ =
¬

+
=
¬ = ÷ ÷
¬ + =
 
b
a
b a
b a
b ab a
ab b a
2
5 1
0
) (
2 2
2 2 2
Th is la s t r es u lt ca n be s u mma r ized a s follows .
If on e s h or t s ide of a r igh t t r ia n gle is t h e geomet r ic mea n of
t h e h ypot en u s e a n d t h e r ema in in g s h or t s ide, t h en t h e r a t io
of t h e h ypot en u s e t o t h e r ema in in g s h or t s ide is t h e Golden
Ra t io  .
In t r ia n gle ABD A t o t h e r igh t , a ll t h r ee
t r ia n gles ABD A , ABC A , a n d ACD A a r e is os celes . In
a ddit ion , t h e t wo t r ia n gles ABD A a n d ACD A a r e s imila r :
ACD ABD A ~ A . We h a ve by pr opor t ion a lit y r u les :
b a
b ab a
b
a
a
b a
 =
¬ = ÷ ÷
¬ =
+
0
2 2
Th u s , in Figu r e 4 . 1 5 , ABD A h a s been s ect ion ed a s t o
cr ea t e t h e Golden Ra t io  bet ween t h e s la n t h eigh t a n d
ba s e for t h e t wo s imila r t r ia n gles ABC A a n d ACD A .
Figu r e 4 . 1 6 a pt ly dis pla ys t h e in h er en t , u n la beled bea u t y
of t h e Golden Ra t io wh en a pplied t o ou r t wo t r ia n gles .
16 0
Figu r e 4 . 1 6 : Tr ia n gu la r Ph i
---
Th e h is t or y of PI, t h e f ixed ratio of t h e cir cu mfer en ce
t o t h e dia met er for a n y cir cle, pa r a llels t h e h is t or y of t h e
Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em it s elf. PI is den ot ed by t h e Gr eek
let t er  . Like t h e Golden Ra t io Ph i, PI is a t opic of s u fficien t
ma t h ema t ica l weigh t t o wa r r a n t a complet e book in it s own
r igh t . As on e migh t s u s pect , books on PI h a ve a lr ea dy been
wr it t en . In t h is volu me, we will s imply gu ide t h e r ea der t o
t h e t wo excellen t ‘PI wor ks ’ lis t ed in t h e Refer en ces .
In t h is Sect ion , we will illu s t r a t e ju s t on e of ma n y
differ en t wa ys of compu t in g Pi t o a n y des ir ed degr ee of
a ccu r a cy. We will do s o by wa y of a n es t ed it er a t ive
t ech n iqu e t h a t h in ges u pon repeated us e of the Py thagorean
Theorem.
Figu r e 4 . 1 7 on t h e n ext pa ge s h ows a u n it cir cle
wh os e cir cu mfer en ce is given by  2 = C . Let
1
T be a n
is os celes r igh t t r ia n gle in s cr ibed in t h e fir s t qu a dr a n t wh os e
h ypot en u s e is 2
1
= h . If we in s cr ibe t h r ee r igh t t r ia n gles
con gr u en t t o
1
T , on e per ea ch r ema in in g qu a dr a n t , t h en a
cr u de a ppr oxima t ion t o C is given by 2 4 4
1
= h .
16 1
Figu r e 4 . 1 7 : Pyt h a gor e a n PI
By bis ect in g t h e h ypot en u s e
1
h , we ca n cr ea t e a s ma ller
r igh t t r ia n gle
2
T wh os e h ypot en u s e is
2
h . Eigh t of t h es e
t r ia n gles ca n be s ymmet r ica l a r r a n ged wit h in t h e u n it cir cle
lea din g t o a s econ d a ppr oxima t ion t o C given by
2
8h . A
t h ir d bis ect ion lea ds t o t r ia n gle
3
T a n d a t h ir d
a ppr oxima t ion
3
16h . Sin ce t h e ‘ga p’ bet ween t h e r im of t h e
cir cle a n d t h e h ypot en u s e of t h e r igh t t r ia n gle gen er a t ed by
ou r bis ect ion pr oces s n ot icea bly t igh t en s wit h s u cces s ive
it er a t ion s , on e migh t expect t h a t t h e a ppr oxima t ion for  2
ca n be gen er a t ed t o a n y degr ee of a ccu r a cy, given en ou gh
it er a t ive cycles .
Note: Analy s is is the branch of mathematics addres s ing ‘endles s
behavior’, s uch as our bis ection proces s above, which can go on ad
infinitum. Some s ituations s tudied in analy s is run counter to
intuitively predicted behavior. Happily , the bis ection proces s was
s hown to converge (get as clos e as w e lik e and s tay there) to  2 in
the early 1990s .
1
&
2
=
=
r
r C 
2
1
= h
2
h
3
h
1
T
2
T
3
T
16 2
Wh a t r ema in s t o be don e is t o develop a for mu la for
1 + i
h t h a t expr es s es
1 + i
h in t er ms of
i
h . Su ch a for mu la is
ca lled a n iterative or recurs ive for mu la . Given a r ecu r s ive
for mu la a n d t h e fa ct t h a t 2
1
= h , we s h ou ld be a ble t o
gen er a t e
2
h , t h en
3
h , a n d s o on .
Figu r e 4 . 1 8 : Re c u r s ive Hyp ot e n u s e s
Figu r e 4 . 1 8 s h ows t h e r ela t ion s h ip bet ween t wo s u cces s ive
it er a t ion s a n d t h e a s s ocia t ed h ypot en u s es . To develop ou r
r ecu r s ive for mu la , s t a r t wit h t r ia n gle ACE A , wh ich is a
r igh t t r ia n gle by con s t r u ct ion s in ce lin e s egmen t AD bis ect s
t h e a n gle BAE Z . We h a ve by t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em:
( ) ( ) ( )
( )
( )
2
4
4 4
4
2
1
) 1 (
2
2
2
2
2
2
2 2 2
i
i
i
h
AC
h
AC
h
AC
AE CE AC
÷
=
÷ =
¬ |
.
|

\
|
÷ =
¬ = = +
A
B
E
D
C
1
1
2
i
h
2
i
h
1 + i
h
1 = AD


16 3
Con t in u in g, we for m a n expr es s ion for t h e s ide CD
a s s ocia t ed wit h t r ia n gle CDE A , a ls o a r igh t t r ia n gle.
2
4 2
1
2
i
h
CD
AC CD
÷ ÷
=
¬ ÷ =
Aga in , by t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em
( ) ( ) ( )
2
1
2
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
2 2 2
4 2
4
4 2
2 2
4 2
i i
i i
i
i
i i
h h
h h
h
h
h h
DE CE CD
÷ ÷ =
+ |
.
|

\
|
÷ ÷
=
¬ = |
.
|

\
|
+
|
|
.
|

\
|
÷ ÷
¬ = +
+
+
+
Aft er a good bit of a lgebr a ic s implifica t ion (left t o r ea der ).
Th e a s s ocia t ed a ppr oxima t ion for t h e a ct u a l cir cu mfer en ce
 2 is given by t h e for mu la
i
i
i
h C
1
2
+
= . To es t a blis h t h e
it er a t ive pa t t er n , we per for m fou r cycles of n u mer ic
ca lcu la t ion .
2 2 8 2
2 2 4 2 :
2 4
2 , 2 :
2
3
2
2
1 2
2
1
2
1 1
1
÷ = =
÷ = ÷ ÷ =
=
= =
h C
h h
h
C h


16 4
2 2 2 2 32 2
2 2 2 2 4 2 :
2 2 2 16 2
2 2 2 4 2 :
4
5
4
2
3 4
4
3
4
3
2
2 3
3
+ + ÷ = =
+ + ÷ = ÷ ÷ =
+ ÷ = =
+ ÷ = ÷ ÷ =
h C
h h
h C
h h


In words , t o ca lcu la t e ea ch s u cceedin g h ypot en u s e, s imply
a dd on e mor e 2 t o t h e in n er mos t 2 wit h in t h e n es t ed
r a dica ls . To ca lcu la t e ea ch s u cceedin g cir cu mfer en t ia l
a ppr oxima t ion , s imply mu lt iply t h e a s s ocia t ed h ypot en u s e
by 2 t o on e a ddit ion a l power .
i
i
h
i
c
1 1.414 5.6569
2 0.7654 6.1229
3 0.3902 6.2429
4 0.1960 6.2731
5 0.0981 6.2807
6 0.0491 6.2826
7 0.0245 6.2830
8 0.0123 6.2831
9 0.0061 6.2832
1 0 0.0031 6.2832
Ta ble 4 . 2 : Su c c e s s ive Appr oxima t ion s for  2
Ta ble 4 . 2 gives t h e r es u lt s for t h e fir s t t en it er a t ion s . As
on e ca n s ee, t h e a ppr oxima t ion h a s s t a bilized t o t h e fou r t h
decima l pla ce. Su cces s ive it er a t ion s wou ld s t a bilize
a ddit ion a l decima l pla ces t o t h e r igh t of t h e decima l poin t .
In t h is wa y, a n y degr ee of a ccu r a cy cou ld be obt a in ed if on e
h a d en ou gh t ime a n d pa t ien ce. Th e t r u e va lu e of  2 t o
n in e decima l pla ces is 283185307 . 6 2 =  .
16 5
If we s t a bilize on e digit for ever y t wo it er a t ion s (wh ich s eems
t o be t h e in dica t ion by Ta ble 4 . 2 ), t h en it wou ld t a ke a bou t
t wen t y it er a t ion s t o s t a bilize ou r a ppr oxima t ion t o n in e
digit s —a gr ea t clos in g ch a llen ge t o t h e r ea der !
---
Ou r la s t t opic in Sect ion 4.4 is t h a t of Pyt h a gor ea n
Spir a ls . Mor e a r t t h a n ma t h ema t ics , Pyt h a gor ea n Spir a ls
a r e cr ea t ed by join in g a s u cces s ion of r igh t t r ia n gles a s
s h own in Figu r e 4 . 1 9 . All n in e t r ia n gles h a ve ou t er s ides
equ a l in len gt h . In a ddit ion , t h e lon ger n on -h ypot en u s e s ide
of a la r ger t r ia n gle is equ a l t o t h e h ypot en u s e of t h e
pr ecedin g t r ia n gle. Th e gen er a t or for t h e ‘s pir a lin g s ea s h ell’
in Figu r e 4 . 1 9 is a n is os celes r igh t t r ia n gle of s ide len gt h
on e. As on e migh t ima gin e, t h e s t oppin g poin t is a r bit r a r y.
Pyt h a gor ea n Spir a ls ma ke gr ea t object s for compu t er
gr a ph ics pr ogr a ms t o gen er a t e wh er e color a t ion a n d pr ecis e
a lign men t ca n be br ou gh t in t o pla y. Give it a t r y u s in g mor e
s oph is t ica t ed s oft wa r e t h a n t h e Micr os oft Wor d u t ilit y t h a t I
u s ed t o gen er a t e t h e s pir a lin g s ea s h ell. En joy!
Figu r e 4 . 1 9 : Pyt h a gor e a n Spir a l
1
1
16 6
Epi l ogue: The Cr own and t he Jewel s
“Geometry has t wo great treasures;
One is the Theor em of Pythagoras:
The other, the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio.
The first we may compare to a measure of gold;
The second we may name a precious jewel.” J ohannes Kepler
Sa in t Pa u l s a ys h is Fir s t Epis t le t o t h e Cor in t h ia n s ,
“For n ow we s ee t h r ou gh a gla s s , da r kly…” Th ou gh t h e
qu ot e ma y be ou t of con t ext , t h e t h ou gh t fr eely s t a n din g on
it s own is ca r r ies t h e t r u t h of t h e h u ma n con dit ion .
Hu ma n s a r e fin it e cr ea t u r es limit ed by s pa ce, t ime, a n d t h e
a bilit y of a t h r ee-pon d ma s s t o per ceive t h e won dr ou s
wor kin gs of t h e Nea r In fin it e…or In fin it e. Even of t h a t —
Nea r In fin it e or In fin it e—we a r e n ot s u r e.
Figu r e E. 1 : Be a u t y in Or de r
16 7
Ma t h ema t ics is on e of t h e pr ima r y t ools we h u ma n s u s e t o
s ee t h r ou gh t h e gla s s da r kly. Wit h it , we ca n bot h dis cover
a n d des cr ibe on goin g or der in t h e n a t u r a l la ws gover n in g
t h e ph ys ica l u n iver s e. Mor eover , wit h in t h a t or der we fin d
comfor t , for or der implies des ign a n d pu r pos e—a s oppos ed
t o ch a os —t h r ou gh in t elligen ce mu ch gr a n der t h a n a n yt h in g
pr odu ced on a t h r ee-pou n d s ca le. Th e s t u dy of ma t h ema t ics
a s a s t u dy of or der is on e wa y t o per ceive cos mic-level
des ign a n d pu r pos e. Bu t n o ma t t er h ow good or h ow
complet e t h e h u ma n in ven t ion of ma t h ema t ics ca n be, it
s t ill a llows ju s t a glimps e t h r ou gh t h e da r ken ed gla s s .
Figu r e E. 1 , a ma n da la of s or t s , h in t s a t t h is truth of
order a s it a pplies t o t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em—wh ich is
bu t a s in gle pa t t er n wit h in t h e t ot a l s yn ch r on icit y fou n d
t h r ou gh ou t t h e cos mos . Th e fou r gr a du a lly s h a ded t r ia n gles
s pea k of Pyt h a gor a s a n d on e of t h e fir s t Pyt h a gor ea n pr oofs .
Mor eover , ea ch t r ia n gle is golden via t h e r a t io of h ypot en u s e
t o s ide, in defer en ce t o Kepler ’s s t a t emen t r ega r din g t h e t wo
gr ea t geomet r ic t r ea s u r es . Fou r a ls o n u mber s t h e pr ima r y
wa vefor ms in t h e vis ible s pect r u m—r ed, blu e, gr een , a n d
yellow— wh ich ca n be ma t h ema t ica lly modeled by a dva n ced
trigonometric patterns (n ot a ddr es s ed in t h is gen er a l-
r ea der s h ip volu me). Sin ce r igh t t r ia n gles a r e in t r ica t ely
lin ked t o cir cles , t h es e t wo geomet r ic figu r es a r e cou pled in
on e-t o-on e fa s h ion . A gr ea t cir cle, expr es s in g u n it y,
en compa s s es t h e pa t t er n . Wh it e, a s t h e s yn t h es is of t h e
vis u a l r a in bow, a ppr opr ia t ely color s a ll five cir cles . Bu t even
wit h in t h e bea u t y of pa t t er n , lin ka ge, a n d dis cover y a s
expr es s ed by ou r ma n da la , t h er e is bla ck. Let t h is da r kn es s
r epr es en t t h a t wh ich r ema in s t o be dis cover ed or t h a t wh ich
is con s ign ed t o mys t er y. Eit h er wa y, it becomes pa r t of wh o
we a r e a s h u ma n s a s ou r in n a t e fin it en es s s eeks t o
compr eh en d t h a t wh ich is mu ch gr ea t er .
It is my h ope t h a t t h is book h a s a llowed a br ief
glimps e t h r ou gh t h e gla s s , a glimps e a t a s u per bly s imple
yet s u bt le geomet r ic pa t t er n ca lled t h e Pyt h a gor ea n
Th eor em t h a t h a s en du r ed for 4000 yea r s or mor e of
h u ma n h is t or y.
16 8
Not on ly h a s it en du r ed, bu t t h e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em a ls o
h a s expa n ded in u t ilit y a n d a pplica t ion t h r ou gh ou t t h e
s a me 40 cen t u r ies , pa r a llelin g h u ma n in t ellect u a l pr ogr es s
du r in g t h e s a me fou r millen n ia . In moder n t imes , t h e
Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em h a s fou n d it s lon g-s t a n din g t r u t h
even mor e r ever ed a n d r evit a lized a s t h e t h eor em con s t a n t ly
“r ein ven t s ” it s elf in or der t o s u ppor t n ew ma t h ema t ica l
con cept s .
Toda y, ou r a n cien t fr ien d is t h e fou n da t ion for
s ever a l br a n ch es of ma t h ema t ics s u ppor t in g a plet h or a of
excit in g a pplica t ion s —r a n gin g fr om wa vefor m a n a lys is t o
exper imen t a l s t a t is t ics t o in t er pla n et a r y ba llis t ics —t ot a lly
u n h ea r d of ju s t t wo cen t u r ies a go. However , wit h a cou ple
of except ion s , t h e book in you r h a n ds h a s explor ed mor e
t r a dit ion a l t r a ils . Like t h e color bla ck in Figu r e E. 1 , t h er e is
mu ch t h a t you , t h e r ea der , ca n yet dis cover r ega r din g t h e
Pyt h a gor ea n Pr opos it ion . Th e eigh t een wor ks cit ed in
Appen dix D pr ovide excellen t r oa dma ps for fu r t h er
explor a t ion s . We clos e wit h a cla s s ic geomet r ic con u n dr u m,
Cu r r y’s Pa r a dox, t o s en d you on you r wa y: Given t wo s et s of
fou r iden t ica l pla yin g pieces a s s h own in Figu r e E. 2 , how
did the s quare in the top f igure dis appear?
Figu r e E. 2 : Cu r r y’s Pa r a dox
16 9
Appendi c es
Figu r e A. 0 : Th e Ta n gr a m
Note: The Tangram is a popular puz z le currently mark eted
under various names . Show n above in tw o configurations ,
the Tangram has Py thagorean origins .
170
A] Gr eek Al phabet
GREEK LETTER
Upper Ca s e Lower Ca s e
ENGLISH
NAME
Α α Alph a
Β β Bet a
Γ γ Ga mma
Δ δ Delt a
Ε ε Eps ilon
Ζ ζ Zet a
Η η Et a
Θ θ Th et a
Ι ι Iot a
Κ κ Ka ppa
Λ λ La mbda
Μ μ Mu
Ν ν Nu
Ξ ξ Xi
Ο ο Omicr on
Π π Pi
Ρ ρ Rh o
Σ σ Sigma
Τ τ Ta u
Υ υ Ups ilon
Φ φ Ph i
Χ χ Ch i
Ψ ψ Ps i
Ω ω Omega
171
B] Mat hemat i c al Symbol s
SYMBOL MEANING
+ Plu s or Add
- Min u s or Su bt r a ct or Ta ke Awa y
± Plu s or Min u s : do bot h for t wo r es u lt s
÷ / Divide
× · Mu lt iply or Times
{ }or [ ] or ( ) Pa r en t h es es
=
Is equ a l t o
÷
Is defin ed a s
= Does n ot equ a l
~ Is a ppr oxima t ely equ a l t o
~ Is s imila r t oo
> Is gr ea t er t h a n
> Is gr ea t er t h a n or equ a l t o
< Is les s t h a n
s Is les s t h a n or equ a l t o
1
,
2

St ep 1, St ep 2, et c.
¬ Implies t h e followin g
B A ¬ A implies B
B A : B implies A
B A · A implies B implies A
Sign for s qu a r e r oot
n
Symbol for n
t h
r oot
| | Pa r a llel
± Per pen dicu la r
Z An gle
÷ Righ t a n gle
A Tr ia n gle
172
C] Geomet r i c Foundat i ons
The Par al l el Post ul at es
1. Let a poin t r es ide ou t s ide a given lin e. Th en t h er e is
exa ct ly on e lin e pa s s in g t h r ou gh t h e poin t pa r a llel t o t h e
given lin e.
2. Let a poin t r es ide ou t s ide a given lin e. Th en t h er e is
exa ct ly on e lin e pa s s in g t h r ou gh t h e poin t per pen dicu la r
t o t h e given lin e.
3. Two lin es bot h pa r a llel t o a t h ir d lin e a r e pa r a llel t o
ea ch ot h er .
4. If a t r a n s ver s e lin e in t er s ect s t wo pa r a llel lin es , t h en
cor r es pon din g a n gles in t h e figu r es s o for med a r e
con gr u en t .
5. If a t r a n s ver s e lin e in t er s ect s t wo lin es a n d ma kes
con gr u en t , cor r es pon din g a n gles in t h e figu r es s o
for med, t h en t h e t wo or igin a l lin es a r e pa r a llel.

Angl es and Li nes
1. Complimen t a r y An gles : Two a n gles  , wit h
0
90 = +   .
-
 
0
180 = +  


0
90 = +  
173
2. Su pplemen t a r y An gles : Two a n gles  , wit h
0
180 = +  
3. Lin ea r Su m of An gles : Th e s u m of t h e t wo a n gles  ,
for med wh en a s t r a igh t lin e is in t er s ect ed by a lin e
s egmen t is equ a l t o
0
180
4. Acu t e An gle: An a n gle les s t h a n
0
90
5. Righ t An gle: An a n gle exa ct ly equ a l t o
0
90
6. Obt u s e An gle: An a n gle gr ea t er t h a n
0
90
Tr i angl es
1. Tr ia n gu la r Su m of An gles : Th e s u m of t h e t h r ee in t er ior
a n gles    , , in a n y t r ia n gle is equ a l t o
0
180
2. Acu t e Tr ia n gle: A t r ia n gle wh er e a ll t h r ee in t er ior
a n gles    , , a r e a cu t e
3. Righ t Tr ia n gle: A t r ia n gle wh er e on e in t er ior a n gle fr om
t h e t r ia d    , , is equ a l t o
0
90
4. Obt u s e Tr ia n gle: A t r ia n gle wh er e on e in t er ior a n gle
fr om t h e t r ia d    , , is gr ea t er t h a n
0
90
5. Sca len e Tr ia n gle: A t r ia n gle wh er e n o t wo of t h e t h r ee
s ide-len gt h s c b a , , a r e equ a l t o a n ot h er
6. Is os celes Tr ia n gle: A t r ia n gle wh er e exa ct ly t wo of t h e
s ide-len gt h s c b a , , a r e equ a l t o ea ch ot h er
7. Equ ila t er a l Tr ia n gle: A t r ia n gle wh er e a ll t h r ee s ide-
len gt h s c b a , , a r e iden t ica l c b a = = or a ll t h r ee a n gles
   , , a r e equ a l wit h
0
60 = = =   
 

a
b
c
0
180 = + +   
174
8. Con gr u en t Tr ia n gles : Two t r ia n gles a r e con gr u en t
(equ a l) if t h ey h a ve iden t ica l in t er ior a n gles a n d s ide-
len gt h s
9. Simila r Tr ia n gles : Two t r ia n gles a r e s imila r if t h ey h a ve
iden t ica l in t er ior a n gles
10. In clu ded An gle: Th e a n gle t h a t is bet ween t wo given
s ides
11. Oppos it e An gle: Th e a n gle oppos it e a given s ide
12. In clu ded Side: Th e s ide t h a t is bet ween t wo given a n gles
13. Oppos it e Side: Th e s ide oppos it e a given a n gle
Congr uent Tr i angl es
Given t h e con gr u en t t wo t r ia n gles a s s h own below
1. Side-An gle-Side (SAS): If a n y t wo s ide-len gt h s a n d t h e
in clu ded a n gle a r e iden t ica l, t h en t h e t wo t r ia n gles a r e
con gr u en t .
2. An gle-Side-An gle (ASA): If a n y t wo a n gles a n d t h e
in clu ded s ide a r e iden t ica l, t h en t h e t wo t r ia n gles a r e
con gr u en t .
3. Side-Side-Side (SSS): If t h e t h r ee s ide-len gt h s a r e
iden t ica l, t h en t h e t r ia n gles a r e con gr u en t .
4. Th r ee At t r ibu t es Iden t ica l: If a n y t h r ee a t t r ibu t es —s ide-
len gt h s a n d a n gles —a r e equ a l wit h a t lea s t on e a t t r ibu t e
bein g a s ide-len gt h , t h en t h e t wo t r ia n gles a r e
con gr u en t . Th es e ot h er ca s es a r e of t h e for m An gle-
An gle-Side (AAS) or Side-Side-An gle (SSA).
 

a
b
c



d
e
f
175
Si mi l ar Tr i angl es
Given t h e t wo s imila r t r ia n gles a s s h own below
1. Min ima l Con dit ion for Simila r it y: If a n y t wo a n gles a r e
iden t ica l (AA), t h en t h e t r ia n gles a r e s imila r .
2. Ra t io la ws for Simila r Tr ia n gles : Given s imila r t r ia n gles
a s s h own a bove, t h en
d
a
f
c
e
b
= =
Pl anar Fi gur es
A is t h e pla n a r a r ea , P is t h e per imet er , n is t h e n u mber of
s ides .
1. Degr ee Su m of In t er ior An gles in Gen er a l Polygon :
] 2 [ 180
0
÷ = n D
2. Squ a r e: s P s A 4 :
2
= = , s is t h e len gt h of a s ide
 
a
b

c



d
e
f
5 = n 6 = n
0
0
720 6
540 5
= ¬ =
= ¬ =
D n
D n
s
176
3. Rect a n gle: h b P bh A 2 2 : + = = , h b & a r e t h e ba s e a n d
h eigh t
4. Tr ia n gle: bh A
2
1
= , h b & a r e t h e ba s e a n d a lt it u de
5. Pa r a llelogr a m: bh A = , h b & a r e t h e ba s e a n d a lt it u de
6. Tr a pezoid: h b B A ) (
2
1
+ = , b B & a r e t h e t wo pa r a llel
ba s es a n d h is t h e a lt it u de
7. Cir cle: r P r A   2 :
2
= = wh er e r is t h e r a diu s , or
d P  = wh er e r d 2 = , t h e dia met er .
8. Ellips e: ab A  = ; b a & a r e t h e h a lf len gt h s of t h e ma jor
& min or a xes
b
h
h
b
B
b
h
r
a
b
b
h
177
D] Ref er enc es
Ge n e r a l His t or ic a l Ma t h e mat ic s
1. Ba ll, W. W. Rou s e; A Sh or t Accou n t of t h e His t or y of
Ma t h ema t ics ; Ma cmilla n &co. LTD., 1912; Repr in t ed
by St er lin g Pu blis h in g Compa n y, In c. ,2001
2. Hogben , La n celot ; Ma t h ema t ics for t h e Million ; W.
W. Nor t on & Compa n y, 1993 Pa per ba ck Edit ion
3. Pols t er , Bu r ka r d: Q.E.D. Bea u t y in Ma t h ema t ica l
Pr oof; Wa lker & Compa n y, New Yor k, 2004
Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or em a n d Tr igon ome t r y
4. Ma or , Eli; Th e Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em, a 4000-Yea r
His t or y; Pr in cet on Un iver s it y Pr es s ; 2007
5. Loomis , Elis h a ; Th e Pyt h a gor ea n Pr opos it ion ;
Pu blica t ion of t h e Na t ion a l Cou n cil of Tea ch er s ;
1968, 2
n d
pr in t in g 1972; currently out of print
6. Sier pin s ki, Wa cla w; Pyt h a gor ea n Tr ia n gles ; Dover
Pu blica t ion s ; 2003
7. Lia l, Hor n s by, a n d Sch n eider ; Tr igon omet r y 7
t h
;
Addis on -Wes ley Edu ca t ion a l Pu blis h er s In c., 2001
PI, Ph i, a n d Ma gic Squ a r e s
8. Beckma n , Pet er ; A His t or y of PI; Th e Golem Pr es s ,
1971; Repr in t ed by Ba r n es & Noble, In c., 1993
9. Pos a men t ier , Alfr ed S. & Leh ma n n , In gma r ; PI, A
Biogr a ph y of t h e Wor ld’s Mos t Mys t er iou s Nu mber ;
Pr omet h eu s Books , New Yor k, 2004
10. Livio, Ma r io; Th e Golden Ra t io, t h e St or y of PHI, t h e
Wor ld’s Mos t As t on is h in g Nu mber ; Ra n dom Hou s e
In c., New Yor k, 2002
178
Re c r e a t ion a l Ma t h e ma t ic s
11. Pickover , Cliffor d A.; Th e Zen of Ma gic Squ a r es ,
Cir cles , a n d St a r s ; Pr in cet on Un iver s it y Pr es s ; 2002
12. Beiler , Alber t H.; Recr ea t ion s in t h e Th eor y of
Nu mber s , Th e Qu een of Ma t h ema t ics En t er t a in s ;
Dover Pu blica t ion s ; 1966
13. Pa s les , Pa u l C.; Ben ja min Fr a n klin ’s Nu mber s ;
Pr in cet on Un iver s it y Pr es s , 2008
14. Kor dems ky, Bor is A., Th e Mos cow Pu zzles ; Dover
Pu blica t ion s ; 1992
15. Ga r dn er , Ma r t in ; Ma t h ema t ics Ma gic a n d Mys t er y;
Dover Pu blica t ion s ; 1956
16. Hea lt h Roya l V.; Ma t h -e-Ma gic: Ma t h , Pu zzles ,
Ga mes wit h Nu mber s ; Dover Pu blica t ion s ; 1953
Cla s s ic a l Ge omet r y
17. Eu clid; Elemen t s ; Gr een Lion Pr es s , 2002; updated
diagrams and explanations by D. Dens more and W.
H. Donahue
18. Apollon iu s ; Con ics Books I-IV (t wo volu mes ); Gr een
Lion Pr es s , 2000; revis ed reprint of 1939 trans lation
by R. C. Taliaf erro with updated diagrams and
explanations by D. Dens more and W. H. Donahue
Ca lc u lu s a n d Su ppor t in g Topics
19. La n da u , Edmu n d; Differ en t ia l a n d In t egr a l Ca lcu lu s ;
Ch els ea Pu blis h in g, 1980 Edit ion Repr in t ed by t h e
Amer ica n Ma t h ema t ic Societ y in 2001
20. Kr a u s s , Eu gen e; Ta xica b Geomet r y: a n Adven t u r e in
Non -Eu clidea n Geomet r y; Dover Pu blica t ion s ; 1987
179
Topi c al I ndex
A
An a lyt ic Geomet r y
Defin ed 30
Demon s t r a t ed on Pyt h a gor a s ' pr oof 31-32
As t r on omy
Dis t a n ce fr om ea r t h t o moon 150-151
Dis t a n ce fr om moon t o s u n 152-154
Dis t a n ce fr om s u n t o Alph a Cen t a u r i 155-156
Er a t os t h en es mea s u r es t h e ea r t h 147-148
Qu ot e by J oh a n n es Kepler 166
Ra diu s of t h e moon 151-152
View dis t a n ce t o ea r t h 's h or izon 148-149
C
Cir cle
On e of t h r ee s ymmet r ic pla n a r figu r es 17
D
Dioph a n t in e Equ a t ion
Dis cu s s ed 131-133
Dis t a n ce For mu la
Developed fr om Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 100
Us ed t o develop t r ig a ddit ion for mu la s 122-127
E
Eu clidea n Met r ic
Pyt h a gor ea n exa mple of 69
Ta xi-ca b exa mple of 69
Rect a n gu la r exa mple of 69
Ca lcu lu s ba s ed on ot h er t h a n Pyt h a gor ea n 69-70
Eu ler 's Con ject u r e
Cou n t er exa mples t o 134
St a t emen t of 133
F
Fer ma t 's La s t Th eor em
St a t emen t of 132
An dr ew Wiles pr oved 130
Rich a r d Ta ylor 's r ole in pr ovin g 130
180
G
Golden Ra t io
Defin ed a n d a lgebr a ica lly developed 157-158
Golden Tr ia n gles
Defin ed 159
Two exa mples of 158-159
H
Her on 's For mu la
Developed fr om Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 105-107
Us ed t o s olve Lloyd's Tr ia n gu la r La ke 137, 139-140
Her o's St ea m En gin e
Des cr ibed wit h illu s t r a t ion 104-105
I
In s cr ibed Cir cle Th eor em
Pyt h a gor ea n r a diu s in con t ext 97
Rea ffir med by Ca u liflower Pr oof 79
St a t emen t a n d pr oof 96
K
Ku r r a h 's Th eor em
St a t emen t a n d pr oof 111-112
Us ed t o pr ove Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 112
L
La w of Cos in es
Der ived fr om Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 128-129
Us ed in t h or n s -a n d-n et t les pr oblem 146-147
La w of Sin es
Der ived 127-128
M
Ma gic Squ a r es
Gen er a l dis cu s s ion 141-142
Ma t h ema t icia n s
An dr ew Wiles 130
Apollon iu s 36
Ar ch imedes 36, 47
Ber t r a n d Ru s s ell 36
Bh a s ka r a 23, 53-54
Er a t os t h en es 147-148
Eu clid 35, 36, 84
Ga lileo Ga lilei 88
181
Ma t h ema t icia n s (cont)
Hen r y Per iga l 61-65
Her on 104-107
J oh a n n es Kepler 166
Legen dr e 41, 58-60
Leon a r do da Vin ci 55-57
Leon h a r d Eu ler 133
Liu Hu i 45-47
Loomis , Elis h a 16, 63, 68-70
Ma t h ew St ewa r t 112-113
Pa ppu s 107
Pier r e de Fer ma t 130-132
Pr es iden t Ga r field 66-77
Pyt h a gor a s 27-35
Rich a r d Ta ylor 130
Roya l Va le Hea t h 143
Sa m Lloyd 136
Th a bit ibn Ku r r a h 49-52, 111
Th r ee gr ea t es t 47
Mea n
Ar it h met ic defin it ion 101,103
Geomet r ic defin it ion 101,103
Ha r mon ic defin it ion 101,103
P
Pa ppu s ' Th eor em
St a t emen t a n d pr oof 107-109
Us ed t o pr ove Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 110
Poet r y
Compa r ed t o pr os e 13-14
Edn a St . Vin cen t Milla y 26
"Eu clid Alon e Ha s Looked… " 26
"Eu clid's Bea u t y Revis it ed"© 87
"Fr om Ea r t h t o Love" © 3
"Love Tr ia n gle" © 27
"Pea r ls a n d Pos er s "© 136
Rela t ion t o ma t h ema t ics t ext 14
"Sign ifica n ce" © 4
Power Su ms
Dis cu s s ed 134-135
Pu zzles
Ga me Boy™ Boxel™ 47
Cu r r y's Pa r a dox 168
Ku r r a h 's pr oof a s s ou r ce for 52
182
Pu zzles (cont)
Pyt h a gor ea n Ma gic Squ a r e by Roya l Va le Hea t h 143
St oma ch ion 47-48
Ta n gr a m 169
Th e Devil's Teet h © 52
Tr a n s for mer s ™ 49
Tr ia n gu la r La ke by Sa m Lloyd 136-140
Pyt h a gor e a n
Book: Th e Pyt h a gor ea n Pr opos it ion 16
Con ver s e
As pr es en t ed a n d pr oved by Eu clid 42-44
Gen er a lized via Ca u liflower Pr oof 80-83
Mea n s
Defin it ion 101-103
Geomet r ic in t er pr et a t ion 101-103
Pr ima l pa t t er n con ject u r ed 19
Qu a r t et s
Defin it ion a n d for mu la s for 99
Ra diu s
Defin it ion a n d t a ble 97
Spir a ls
Defin ed a n d illu s t r a t ed 165
Tilin g
Fir s t expla in ed 62-65
Tr iples
Defin it ion a n d pr oper t ies 90-95
Compos it e 93-95
For mu la s for gen er a t in g 91
Pr imit ive 93-95
Pr imit ive t win 93-95
Us e of t em "per fect ion " wit h r es pect t o 25-26
Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m
Algebr a ic s qu a r e-wit h in -a -s qu a r e pr oof 32
Ar ch imedea n or igin s pecu la t ed 47-48
As "Cr own J ewel" 86-87, 166-168
As a Dioph a n t in e equ a t ion 132
As kn own pr ior t o Pyt h a gor a s 27-28
As pr es en t ed in Eu clid's Th e Elemen t s 36-37
Su t t on 's embedded-s imila r it y pr oof 59-60
Ba s is for Pyt h a gor ea n iden t it ies 121-122
Bh a s ka r a 's a lgebr a ic-dis s ect ion pr oof 53-54
Ca t egor ies of Pyt h a gor ea n pr oofs t a bu la r ized 86
Ca u liflower Pr oof 70-79
Ch a r a ct er iza t ion of dis s ect ion pr oof 31-32
183
Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m (con t )
Con ver s e for ma lly s t a t ed 42
Con ver s e pr oved per Eu clid 43-44
Dis t a n ce for mu la a s bypr odu ct 100
Ea r t h -t o-s u n dis t a n ce 154
Egypt ia n 3-4-5 kn ot t ed r ope 27-28
Equ iva len cy t o ot h er t h eor ems t a bu la r ized 115
Eu clid's or igin a l Win dmill Pr oof 37-39
Eu clid's Win dmill Pr oof dia gr a m fir s t pr es en t ed 1
Eu clid's Win dmill Pr oof fir s t men t ion ed 35
Eu ler 's Con ject u r e a s s pin off 133-134
Ext en s ion t o figu r es wit h s imila r a r ea s 88
Fer ma t 's La s t Th eor em a s s pin off 130-133
Fir s t pr oof by Pyt h a gor a s 29-30
Fir s t pr oof by Pyt h a gor a s en h a n ced by a lgebr a 31
As fou n da t ion of t r igon omet r y 116-118
Ga r field's t r a pezoida l dis s ect ion pr oof 66-67
Gen er a lized s t a t emen t via Ca u liflower Pr oof 80-82
Hen r y Per iga l's t ilin g pr oof 63-65
In it ia l dis cover y s pecu la t ed 23
In it ia l s t a t emen t of 24
Ku r r a h 's br ide's -ch a ir pr oof 49-51
Legen dr e's embedded-s imila r it y pr oof 58-59
Leon a r do da Vin ci's a s ymmet r ic pr oof 55-57
Liu Hu i's pa ckin g pr oof 45-47
Mos a ic en t it led "Pyt h a gor ea n Dr ea ms " 2
Non -s a t is fa ct ion by n on -r igh t t r ia n gles 2 5-26
Power s u ms a s s pin off 134-135
Pr e-a lgebr a ic vis u a l in s pect ion pr oof 23-24
Pr oved by Ku r r a h 's Th eor em 112
Pr oved by Pa ppu s ' Th eor em 110
Pyt h a gor ea n Ma gic Squ a r e 143
Rect a n gu la r dis s ect ion pr oof 33
Some pr oofs ca n be in s ever a l ca t egor ies 87
Specu la t ive gen es is 17-26
Th r ee-dimen s ion a l ver s ion a n d pr oof 98
Twin -t r ia n gle dis s ect ion pr oof 34-36
Us ed t o ca lcu la t e PI 160-164
Us ed t o defin e golden t r ia n gles 158-160
Us ed t o der ive La w of Cos in es 128-129
Us ed t o develop Her on 's For mu la 105-107
Us ed t o develop t r igon omet r ic a ddit ion for mu la s 122-126
Wit h r es pect t o a ma t eu r ma t h ema t icia n s 13
Wit h r es pect t o moder n t ech n ology 13
Win dmill-ligh t pr oof u s in g a n a lyt ic geomet r y 40-41
184
Pyt h a gor e a n Th e or e m Pr oofs
Algebr a ic
Fir s t expla in ed 53-54
Bh a s ka r a 's a lgebr a ic dis s ect ion pr oof 53-54
Ca lcu lu s
Ca u liflower Pr oof 70-79
Ca u liflower Pr oof logic lin ks 79
Fir s t expla in ed 68-69
Dia gr a m, Ca r olyn 's Ca u liflower 70-71, 75
Elis h a Loomis s t a t es impos s ibilit y of 68-69
Con s t r u ct ion
Fir s t expla in ed 37
Win dmill u s in g a n a lyt ic geomet r y 40-41
Eu clid's or igin a l Win dmill Pr oof 37-39
Leon a r do da Vin ci's a s ymmet r ic pr oof 55-58
Dis s ect ion
Br ide's Ch a ir t r a dit ion a l cla s s ifica t ion 49
Dis s ect ion Or der (DR) s ys t em expla in ed 32
Ga r field's t r a pezoida l dis s ect ion pr oof 66-67
Squ a r e-wit h in -a -s qu a r e pr oof 31
Tr ia n gles -wit h in -a -r ect a n gle pr oof 33
Twin -t r ia n gle pr oof by Wa t kin s 34-35
Pa ckin g
Con ject u r ed or igin of Liu Hu i's pr oof 47-48
Fir s t expla in ed 46-47
Sh ea r in g
Fir s t expla in ed 83
Su t t on 's embedded-s imila r it y Pr oof 59-61
Eu clid's Win dmill a n d s h ea r in g pr oofs 84
Simila r it y
Fir s t expla in ed 41
Illu s t r a t ed 84-85
Legen dr e's embedded-s imila r it y pr oof 58-59
Exploit ed in win dmill-ligh t pr oof 41
Tilin g
Fir s t expla in ed 63-64
Hen r y Per iga l's t ilin g pr oof 63-66
In fin it e n u mber of 63
Tr a n s for mer
Alt er n a t e cla s s ifica t ion of br ide's -ch a ir 49
Ku r r a h 's "Oper a t ion Tr a n s for ma t ion " 50-51
185
Q
Qu a dr a t ic
Equ a t ion 14-15
For mu la 14-15
R
Rect a n gle
Pa r t it ion ed in t o r igh t t r ia n gles via a dia gon a l 21
Fou r u s ed t o ma ke s qu a r e wit h s qu a r e h ole 22
S
Simila r Figu r e Th eor em
Con s t r u ct ed on s ides of r igh t t r ia n gle 88-89
Squ a r e
Fou r s u gges t ed pla n a r a ct ion s / movemen t s 18
On e of t h r ee s ymmet r ic pla n a r figu r es 17
Pa r t it ion ed a n d s u bs equ en t ly r eplica t ed 19
Pa r t it ion ed in t o r igh t t r ia n gles via a dia gon a l 18-19
St ewa r t 's Th eor em
St a t emen t a n d pr oof 113-114
Not equ iva len t t o Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 113
Requ ir es Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em t o pr ove 113
T
Tombs t on e
Hen r y Per iga l's 61-62
Tr ia n gle
Equ ila t er a l
On e of t h r ee s ymmet r ic pla n a r figu r es 17
Pyt h a gor ea n
Defin it ion 90
Equ a l a r ea 95
Equ a l per imet er 95
Ar ea n u mer ica lly equ a l t o per imet er 91
Righ t
Defin it ion a n d a n gu la r pr oper t ies 20-21
For med fr om r ect a n gle via a dia gon a l 21
Hypot en u s e 22
Righ t Is os celes
Cr ea t ed fr om s qu a r e via a dia gon a l 18-19
Tr igon omet r y
Addit ion for mu la s 122-126
Dis t a n ce fr om ea r t h t o moon 150-152
Dis t a n ce fr om moon t o s u n 152-154
Dis t a n ce fr om s u n t o Alph a Cen t a u r i 155-157
186
Tr igon omet r y (cont)
Er a t os t h en es mea s u r es t h e ea r t h 147-148
La w of Cos in es 128-129
La w of Sin es 127-128
PI ca lcu la t ed u s in g Pyt h a gor ea n Th eor em 160-164
Pr imit ive iden t it ies 121
Pyt h a gor ea n iden t it ies 121-122
Ra diu s of t h e moon 151-153
Righ t -t r ia n gle defin it ion s of t r ig fu n ct ion s 120-121
Sch oolh ou s e fla gpole pr oblem 144-145
Th or n s -a n d-n et t les pr oblem 146-147
Un it -cir cle defin it ion s of t r ig fu n ct ion s 118-119
View dis t a n ce t o ea r t h 's h or izon 148-150
About the Author
John C. Sparks is a retired
engineer at Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base (Dayton, Ohio) with over
33 years of aerospace experience.
Additionally, Sparks is an active
Adjunct Instructor of mathematics
at Sinclair Community College
(Dayton) with over 25 years of
teaching experience. In late 2003,
Sparks received the Ohio
Association of Two-Year Colleges’
2002-2003 Adjunct Teacher of the
Year award. He and his wife,
Carolyn (photo), have celebrated 39
years of marriage and have two
grown sons, Robert and Curtis.
Sparks is a lifelong resident of
Xenia, Ohio.
In addition to The Pythagorean Theorem, Sparks has
published three other books: Calculus without Limits 3
rd
, a
beginner’s primer to single-variable calculus; Gold, Hay and
Stubble, a book of original poems which muses the time period
1996 to 2006 in diary format; and, per Air Force sponsorship, The
Handbook of Essential Mathematics, an e-book available as a free
PDF download on http://www.asccxe.wpafb.af.mil.

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