Geometry as we know it

Geometry is one of the oldest branches of mathematics. The word is derived from two Greek words - Geo meaning Earth and Mitron, meaning measure. So geometry technically means to measure the ea

Published: 11th January 2012 12:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:12 PM   |  A+A-

Geometry is one of the oldest branches of mathematics. The word is derived from two Greek words - Geo meaning Earth and Mitron, meaning measure. So geometry technically means to measure the earth. The science of geometry evolved through the ages, originating as a practical need to conduct surveys, take measurements of areas and quantify volumes which led to the formulation of the famous Pythagorean theorem. The various formulae, so evolved,

were also used to calculate the circumference and area of a circle, area of a triangle, volume of a cylinder, sphere and a pyramid.

In ancient societies, geometry was used for surveying, astronomy, navigation and construction. Traditional geometry takes into consideration only three-dimensional space but with the advent of the modern age, mathematicians began to expand it further and include higher dimensions and introduced the concept of symmetry.

Aristotle, Thales, Pythagoras and Euclid were perhaps the most influential mathematicians of the ancient times. Even today, the geometry that we study at school is plane geometry or Euclidean geometry. Euclid compiled all the data available up to his time in a book called 'The elements', which laid the foundation of geometry as we now know it today. Hence Euclid is largely considered as the father of geometry.

He took a more abstract approach to the subject in his book. He introduced certain axioms and self-evident properties of points, lines and planes, which came to be known as the axiomatic or synthetic approach. In India during the Vedic period, geometry was developed as simple laws called Sulabh Sutras. Great people like Boudhayana and Apasthamba were famous authorities of such simple laws. During the period of the Jains, Stananga Sutramu, the finest work in geometry was produced. During the later period,  Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharyudu and Mahaveerachary developed the subject further. In fact, Zero, the most crucial to all mathematics is one of India's greatest contributions to the world.

P V Rohit Kumar is a class VIII student at Kendriya Vidyalaya Picket, Secunderabad

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