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Euler's Gem by David S. Richeson

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CHAPTER 5

EUCLID AND HIS “ELEMENTS

At the age of eleven, I began Euclid, with my brother as my tutor. This was one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love. I had not imagined there was anything so delicious in the world.—Bertrand Russell1

When one thinks of Greek geometry, one thinks of Euclid and of his masterwork, the Elements. In antiquity Euclid was often referred to simply as “the Geometer.” It is disappointing that so little is known about his life. We cannot identify the place of his birth or even a reasonably accurate birth or death year. Most books on the history of mathematics do not venture a guess at his exact dates, saying instead that he was alive during the year 300 BCE.

Euclid learned mathematics and discovered ...

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