History of Geometry

Geometry comes from the greek words “geo” meaning earth and “metros” meaning measure.  It is one of the oldest branches of mathematics and can be traced back to ancient Egypt around 1700 BC. Geometry came about out of necessity.  Many residents of ancient Greece lived along the banks of the Nile River. Whenever the Nile River overflowed, it made changes to the land along the riverbanks and caused problems for the residents.  It became difficult to determine the boundaries of the land.  A system of “earth measure” was needed and geometry was born.

Hundreds of years later, Euclid came along and is known as the “Father of Geometry.”  His book, Elements, written around 300 BC, has become the foundation of geometry as we know it today.  Elements consisted of 13 books and 445 propositions that included current knowledge of geometry at the time along with Euclid’s work.  The books covered not only plane and solid geometry but also much of what is now known as algebra, trigonometry, and advanced arithmetic. Euclid’s basic ideas are still the basis of modern geometry. While there are other forms of geometry, this course is based on Euclidean geometry.