Geometry is a branch of mathematics concerned with questions of shape, relative position of figures, the properties of space. A mathematician who works in the field of geometry is called a geometer. Geometry arose independently in a number of early cultures as a practical way for dealing with lengths and volumes. Geometry began to see elements of formal mathematical science emerging in the West as early as the 6th century BC. By the 3rd century BC, geometry was put into an axiomatic form by Euclid, whose treatment, Euclid's Elements, set a standard for many centuries to follow. Geometry arose independently in India, with texts providing rules for geometric constructions appearing as early as the 3rd century BC. Islamic scientists expanded on them during the Middle Ages. By the early 17th century, geometry had been put on a solid analytic footing by mathematicians such as René Descartes and Pierre de Fermat. Since and into modern times, geometry has expanded into non-Euclidean geometry and manifolds, describing spaces that lie beyond the normal range of human experience.
While geometry has evolved throughout the years, there are some general concepts that are more or less fundamental to geometry. These include the concepts of points, planes, surfaces and curves, as well as the more advanced notions of manifolds and topology or metric. Geometry has applications to many fields, including art, physics, as well as to other branches of mathematics. Contemporary geometry has many subfields: Euclidean geometry is geometry in its classical sense; the mandatory educational curriculum of the majority of nations includes the study of points, planes, triangles, similarity, solid figures and analytic geometry. Euclidean geometry has applications in computer science and various branches of modern mathematics. Differential geometry uses techniques of linear algebra to study problems in geometry, it has applications in physics, including in general relativity. Topology is the field concerned with the properties of geometric objects that are unchanged by continuous mappings. In practice, this means dealing with large-scale properties of spaces, such as connectedness and compactness.
Convex geometry investigates convex shapes in the Euclidean space and its more abstract analogues using techniques of real analysis. It has close connections to convex analysis and functional analysis and important applications in number theory. Algebraic geometry studies geometry through the use of multivariate polynomials and other algebraic techniques, it has applications including cryptography and string theory. Discrete geometry is concerned with questions of relative position of simple geometric objects, such as points and circles, it shares many principles with combinatorics. Computational geometry deals with algorithms and their implementations for manipulating geometrical objects. Although being a young area of geometry, it has many applications in computer vision, image processing, computer-aided design, medical imaging, etc; the earliest recorded beginnings of geometry can be traced to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt in the 2nd millennium BC. Early geometry was a collection of empirically discovered principles concerning lengths, angles and volumes, which were developed to meet some practical need in surveying, construction and various crafts.
The earliest known texts on geometry are the Egyptian Rhind Papyrus and Moscow Papyrus, the Babylonian clay tablets such as Plimpton 322. For example, the Moscow Papyrus gives a formula for calculating the volume of a truncated pyramid, or frustum. Clay tablets demonstrate that Babylonian astronomers implemented trapezoid procedures for computing Jupiter's position and motion within time-velocity space; these geometric procedures anticipated the Oxford Calculators, including the mean speed theorem, by 14 centuries. South of Egypt the ancient Nubians established a system of geometry including early versions of sun clocks. In the 7th century BC, the Greek mathematician Thales of Miletus used geometry to solve problems such as calculating the height of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore, he is credited with the first use of deductive reasoning applied to geometry, by deriving four corollaries to Thales' Theorem. Pythagoras established the Pythagorean School, credited with the first proof of the Pythagorean theorem, though the statement of the theorem has a long history.
Eudoxus developed the method of exhaustion, which allowed the calculation of areas and volumes of curvilinear figures, as well as a theory of ratios that avoided the problem of incommensurable magnitudes, which enabled subsequent geometers to make significant advances. Around 300 BC, geometry was revolutionized by Euclid, whose Elements considered the most successful and influential textbook of all time, introduced mathematical rigor through the axiomatic method and is the earliest example of the format still used in mathematics today, that of definition, axiom and proof. Although most of the contents of the Elements were known, Euclid arranged them into a single, coherent logical framework; the Elements was known to all educated people in the West until the middle of the 20th century and its contents are still taught in geometry classes today. Archimedes of Syracuse used the method of exhaustion to calculate the area under the arc of a parabola with the summation of an infinite series, gave remarkably accurate approximations of Pi.
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A complex number is a number that can be expressed in the form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers, i is a solution of the equation x2 = −1. Because no real number satisfies this equation, i is called an imaginary number. For the complex number a + bi, a is called the real part, b is called the imaginary part. Despite the historical nomenclature "imaginary", complex numbers are regarded in the mathematical sciences as just as "real" as the real numbers, are fundamental in many aspects of the scientific description of the natural world. Complex numbers allow solutions to certain equations. For example, the equation 2 = − 9 has no real solution, since the square of a real number cannot be negative. Complex numbers provide a solution to this problem; the idea is to extend the real numbers with an indeterminate i, taken to satisfy the relation i2 = −1, so that solutions to equations like the preceding one can be found. In this case the solutions are −1 + 3i and −1 − 3i, as can be verified using the fact that i2 = −1: 2 = 2 = = 9 = − 9, 2 = 2 = 2 = 9 = − 9.
According to the fundamental theorem of algebra, all polynomial equations with real or complex coefficients in a single variable have a solution in complex numbers. In contrast, some polynomial equations with real coefficients have no solution in real numbers; the 16th century Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano is credited with introducing complex numbers in his attempts to find solutions to cubic equations. Formally, the complex number system can be defined as the algebraic extension of the ordinary real numbers by an imaginary number i; this means that complex numbers can be added and multiplied, as polynomials in the variable i, with the rule i2 = −1 imposed. Furthermore, complex numbers can be divided by nonzero complex numbers. Overall, the complex number system is a field. Geometrically, complex numbers extend the concept of the one-dimensional number line to the two-dimensional complex plane by using the horizontal axis for the real part and the vertical axis for the imaginary part.
The complex number a + bi can be identified with the point in the complex plane. A complex number whose real part is zero is said to be purely imaginary. A complex number whose imaginary part is zero can be viewed as a real number. Complex numbers can be represented in polar form, which associates each complex number with its distance from the origin and with a particular angle known as the argument of this complex number; the geometric identification of the complex numbers with the complex plane, a Euclidean plane, makes their structure as a real 2-dimensional vector space evident. Real and imaginary parts of a complex number may be taken as components of a vector with respect to the canonical standard basis; the addition of complex numbers is thus depicted as the usual component-wise addition of vectors. However, the complex numbers allow for a richer algebraic structure, comprising additional operations, that are not available in a vector space. Based on the concept of real numbers, a complex number is a number of the form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is an indeterminate satisfying i2 = −1.
For example, 2 + 3i is a complex number. This way, a complex number is defined as a polynomial with real coefficients in the single indeterminate i, for which the relation i2 + 1 = 0 is imposed. Based on this definition, complex numbers can be added and multiplied, using the addition and multiplication for polynomials; the relation i2 + 1 = 0 induces the equalities i4k = 1, i4k+1 = i, i4k+2 = −1, i4k+3 = −i, which hold for all integers k. The real number a is called the real part of the complex number a + bi. To emphasize, the imaginary part does not include a factor i and b, not bi, is the imaginary part. Formally, the complex numbers are defined as the quotient ring of the polynomia