By any measure, the Pythagorean theorem is the most famous statement in all of mathematics. In this book, Eli Maor reveals the full story of this ubiquitous geometric theorem. Maor shows that the theorem, although attributed to Pythagoras, was known to the Babylonians more than a thousand years earlier. Pythagoras may have been the first to prove it, but his proof--if indeed he had one--is lost to us. The theorem itself, however, is central to almost every branch of science, pure or applied. Maor brings to life many of the characters that played a role in the development of the Pythagorean theorem, providing a fascinating backdrop to perhaps our oldest enduring mathematical legacy.
Eli Maor is the author of Venus in Transit, Trigonometric Delights, To Infinity and Beyond, and e: The Story of a Number (all Princeton). He teaches the history of mathematics at Loyola University in Chicago and at the Graham School of General Education at the University of Chicago.
"This excellent biography of the theorem is like a history of thought written in lines and circles, moving from ancient clay tablets to Einstein's blackboards. . . . There is something intoxicating about seeing one truth revealed in so many ways. It all makes for hours of glorious mathematical distraction."--Ben Longstaff, New Scientist
"[The Pythagorean Theorem] is aimed at the reader with an interest in the history of mathematics. It should also appeal to most well-educated people...It is a story based on a theme and guided by a timeline...As a popular account of important ideas and their development, the book should be read by anyone with a good education. It deserves to succeed."--Peter M. Neumann, Times Higher Education Supplement
"Based on this recent book, Maor just keeps getting better. Already recognized for his excellent books on infinity, the number e, and trigonometry, Maor offers this new work as a comprehensive overview of the Pythagorean Theorem...If one has never read a book by Eli Maor, this book is a great place to start."--J. Johnson, Choice
"Maor expertly tells the story of how this simple theorem known to schoolchildren is part and parcel of much of mathematics itself. . . . Even mathematically savvy readers will gain insights into the inner workings and beauty of mathematics."--Amy Shell-Gellasch, MAA Reviews
"Maor's book is a concise history of the Pythagorean theorem, including the mathematicians, cultures, and people influenced by it. The work is well written and supported by several proofs and exampled from Chinese, Arabic, and European sources the document how these unique cultures came to understand and apply the Pythagorean theorem. [The book] provides thoughtful commentary on the historical connections this fascinating theorem has to many cultures and people."--Michael C. Fish, Mathematics Teacher
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Eli Maor: