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Guide to Essential Math, 2nd Edition by Sy M. Blinder

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Chapter 5

Analytic Geometry

The great French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) is usually credited with developing the network of relationships that exist between algebraic quantities—such as numbers and functions—and their geometrical analogs—points and curves. Descartes was also responsible for the notion that the world is made up of two fundamentally different substances, mind and matter. From our enlightened modern viewpoint, Cartesian mind/body dualism is almost certainly misguided, but that does not compromise Descartes’ contributions when he stuck to mathematics. (Descartes is also responsible for the intellectual’s raison d’être, “cogito ergo sum”—I think therefore I am.)

5.1 Functions and Graphs

A function in mathematics ...

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