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Euclids Plane Geometry

The Elements
Euclid 300s BCE
Teacher at Museum and
Library in Alexandria,
founded by Ptolemy in
300 BCE.
Best known for compiling
and organizing the work
of other Greek
mathematicians relating
to Geometry.
Aristotle 384-322 BCE

Begin your scientific

work with definitions
and axioms.
The Elements
Consistedof 13 volumes of definitions, axioms,
theorems and proofs.

Compilation of knowledge.

The Elements was first math book in which each

theorem was proved using axioms and previously
proven theorems teaching how to think and
develop logical arguments.

Second only to the Bible in publications.

Books 1-6 Plane Geometry
1-2 triangles, quadrilaterals, quadratics
3 - circles
4 - inscribed and circumscribed polygons
5 magnitudes and ratio, Euclidean Algorithm
6 applications of books 1-5

Books 7-9 Number Theory

Book 10 Irrational Numbers
Books 11-13 Three dimensional figures
including 5 Platonic solids
Book 1
5 statements that Euclid believed were

5 postulates about Geometry that Euclid

believed were intuitively true.

23definitions to help clarify the

postulates (point, line, plane, angle etc)
5 Common notions (obvious)

1. Things equal to the same thing are equal.

2. If equals are added to equals, the results

are equal.

3. If equals are subtracted to equals, the

results are equal.

4. Things that coincide are equal.

5. The whole is greater than the part.

5 assumptions (intuitively true)
Postulate 1 a straight line can be drawn from
any point to any point.
(assumes only one line)

Postulate 2 a line segment can be extended into

a line.

Postulate 3 a circle can be formed with any

center and any radius
(assumes only one circle)

Postulate 4 all right angles are congruent

Postulate 5 if two lines are cut by a transversal

and the consecutive interior angles
are not supplementary then the lines
Book I
Included theorems such as:
Parallel Line Postulate

Pythagorean Theorem

construction of a square (using only a straight edge

and protractor)


properties of parallelograms

properties of parallel lines cut by a transversal

Inscribed Polygons
(Book IV)
Euclidproved many theorems about circles in
Book III that allowed him to provide detailed
constructions of inscribed and circumscribed

For example, to inscribe a pentagon, draw an

isosceles triangle with the base angles equal to
twice the vertex angle. Bisect the base angles
and the 5 points together make the pentagon.
Duplicate Ratio
(Book V)
Book VII begins with a definition of
proportional which is based on the notion
of duplicate ratio.
Duplicate ratio
When three magnitudes are
proportional, the first is said to have
to the third the duplicate ratio of that
which it has to the second.
Ex. 2:6:18
Euclidean Algorithm
(Book VII)
Process for finding the greatest common divisor.

Given a, b with a > b, subtract b from a repeatedly until

get remainder c.

Then subtract c from b repeatedly until get to m, then

subtract m from cwhen the result = 0, you have the
greatest common divisor or the result = 1, which means
a and b are relatively prime.

ex. 80 and 18
ex. 7 and 32
Prime Numbers
Consider these 3 statements about primes found in
Book VII:
Any composite number can be divided by some prime
Any number is either prime or can be divided by a
prime number.
If a prime number can be divided into the product
of two numbers, it can be divided into one of them.

These statements form the Fundamental Theorem of

Arithmetic that any number can be expressed uniquely
as a product of prime numbers.

In Book IX, Euclid proves through induction that there

are infinitely many prime numbers.
Geometric Series
(Book IX)
If as many as we please
are in continued a, ar, ar, ar,...arn
proportion, and there is
subtracted from the
second and the last (ar a) (arn-a)
numbers equal to the
first, then, as the excess
of the second is to the (ar a):a = (arn-a):Sn
first, so will the last be
to all those before it.
Solve this last equation for Sn
(ar a):a = (arn-a):Sn

ar a ar a n

a Sn

a(r 1)
r 1

Ex. Find the sum of the first 5 terms when a =1 and r =2

Knowing how to think- who needs it?

Lawyers, politicians, negotiators, programmers, and anyone

dealing with social issues!

Abraham Lincoln carried a copy of The Elements (and read it) to

become a better lawyer.

The Declaration of Independence is set up in the same format

as The Elements (self-evident truths are axioms used to prove
that the colonies are justified in breaking from England).

19th century Yale students studied The Elements for two years,
at the end of which they participated in a celebration ritual
called the Burial of Euclid.

E.T. Bell wrote Euclid taught me that without assumptions,

there is no proof. Therefore, in any argument, examine the
High School Geometry
Plane Geometry courses today are basically the content
of Euclids Elements.

Two-column proof appeared in the 1900s to make

proofs easier but led to rote memorization instead.

1970s moved away from proofs because they were too

painful and not fun.

Now proofs are brief and irrelevant. They do not serve

the purpose of developing logical thinking.
Standards: what they should know
Anchors: what they are tested on
Prior to Euclid, Greek mathematicians such as Pythagorus,
Theaetetus, Euxodus and Thales did work in Geometry.
384-322 BCE - Aristotle believed that scientific knowledge
could only be gained through logical methods, beginning
with axioms.
300 BCE- Euclid teaches at the Museum and Library at
1880 J.L. Heiberg compiles Greek version of The Elements
as close to original as possible.
1908 Thomas Heath translated Heibergs text. This version
is the one most widely used and the basis for modern
Geometry courses.
Berlinghoff, F. & Gouva. Math Through the Ages: A Gentle
History for Teachers and Others. Farmington, Maine: Oxton
House, 2002.

Heath, T. History of Greek Mathematics, Volume 2. New York,


Katz, V. The History of Mathematics. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2004.