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René Descartes
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La Géométrie was published in 1637 as an appendix to Discours de la méthode (Discourse on Method), written by René Descartes. In the Discourse, he presents his method for obtaining clarity on any subject. La Geometrie and two other appendices also by Descartes, the Optics and the Meteorology, were published with the Discourse to give examples of the kinds of successes he had achieved following his method (as well as, perhaps, within the contemporary European social climate of intellectual competitiveness, to show off a bit to a wider audience).

La Geometrie

The work was the first to propose the idea of uniting algebra and geometry into a single subject and invented an algebraic geometry called analytic geometry, which involves reducing geometry to a form of arithmetic and algebra and translating geometric shapes into algebraic equations. For its time this was pretty ground-breaking given that algebra and geometry were considered completely separate branches of mathematics with no connection to one another. It also contributed to the mathematical ideas of Leibniz and Newton and was thus important in the development of calculus.

Descartes is often credited with inventing the coordinate plane because he had the relevant concepts in his book. But no equations are graphed in La Géométrie on the coordinate axes later known as Cartesian coordinates.

References

  • The Geometry of René Descartes Smith David E. and Lantham M. L. - 1925 - Dover 1954
  • Facsimile Wikisource (fr) : La Géométrie‎

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