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Skill 7 of 10
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Euclid of Alexandria

Euclid of Alexandria (probably ~325 BC to ~265 BC),1 pioneer in mathematics and called the ‘father of geometry’,[3,4] lived and most likely born in Alexandria, Egypt.[5,4]

Painting (from artist’s memory) of Euclid[6]

He wrote many works about mathematics, with the one called ‘The Elements’ being the most famous work about geometry ever written.[5] This thousands-of-years old work, consisting of 13 books or volumes,[3] has laid the foundation of all future Western mathematics – even modern mathematics of present time – that all has been ‘either developing his ideas or challenging them’,[5] and it has been called a ‘perfect example of correct reasoning’.[5]

With ‘The Elements’ Euclid, as one of the first, collected and organised much of the geometric knowledge at the time (including the works of Pythagoras)[4] 2 into one work with exhaustive proofs. It starts from the very beginning with fundamental definitions (such as ‘a point is that which has no part’)[5] or postulates (such as ‘[it is possible] to draw a straight line from any point to any point’)[5] that are assumed true, as well as axioms that are considered fundamental truths (such as ‘the whole is greater than the part’)[4] etc. and builds all geometrical knowledge on top of that.

An old fragment from Euclid’s ‘The Elements’[6]

Euclid taught at his own school in Alexandria[1,3] and was probably himself taught by Plato.[3] Among other large achievements, he was the first to prove that there exist infinitely many prime numbers.[5]


References:

  1. Euclid of Alexandria’ (web page), J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 1999, mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Euclid.html (accessed Mar. 13th, 2020)
  2. Euclid biography’ (web page), Tejvan Pettinger, Biography Online, Oxford, 2018, www.biographyonline.net/scientists/euclid.html (accessed Mar. 13th, 2020)
  3. Euclid of Alexandria and His Contributions to Geometry’ (web page), Deb Russell, ThoughtCo, 2019, www.thoughtco.com/euclid-of-alexandria-biography-2312396 (accessed Mar. 13th, 2020)
  4. Euclid of Alexandria – The Father of Geometry’ (web page), The Story of Mathematics, 2013, www.storyofmathematics.com/hellenistic_euclid.html (accessed Mar. 13th, 2020)
  5. Euclid’ (encyclopedia), N. S. Palmer, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2015, www.ancient.eu/Euclid/ (accessed Jan. 30st, 2020)
  6. Euclid’ (encyclopedia), Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclid (accessed Mar. 13th, 2020)