The Babylonian Theorem: The Mathematical Journey to Pythagoras and Euclid (Hardcover)

The Babylonian Theorem: The Mathematical Journey to Pythagoras and Euclid By Peter S. Rudman Cover Image
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A physicist explores the history of mathematics among the Babylonians and Egyptians, showing how their scribes in the era from 2000 to 1600 BCE used visualizations of plane geometric figures  to invent geometric algebra, even solving problems that we now do by quadratic algebra. Rudman traces the evolution of mathematics from the metric geometric algebra of Babylon and Egypt—which used numeric quantities on diagrams as a means to work out problems—to the nonmetric geometric algebra of Euclid (ca. 300 BCE). From his analysis of Babylonian geometric algebra, the author formulates a "Babylonian Theorem", which he demonstrates was used to derive the Pythagorean Theorem, about a millennium before its purported discovery by Pythagoras.

He also concludes that what enabled the Greek mathematicians to surpass their predecessors was the insertion of alphabetic notation onto geometric figures. Such symbolic notation was natural for users of an alphabetic language, but was impossible for the Babylonians and Egyptians, whose writing systems (cuneiform and hieroglyphics, respectively) were not alphabetic.

This is a masterful, fascinating, and entertaining book, which will interest both math enthusiasts and students of history.

About the Author

Peter S. Rudman (Tel Aviv, Israel), a retired professor of physics at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is the author of How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years, which was selected in 2008 as an Outstanding Academic Text by the American Library Association.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781591027737
ISBN-10: 159102773X
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication Date: January 26th, 2010
Pages: 248
Language: English