Frontispiece of Euclid's Elements

Frontispiece of Euclid's Elements

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Frontispiece of Euclid's Elements of Geometry. This is Sir Henry Billingsley's first English version of Elements, published in 1570. Euclid, who lived around 300 BC, is one of the best known and most influential Greek mathematicians. The Elements of Geometry, a treatise contained in thirteen books, organised the work of many previous Greek geometricians, as well as containing many new discoveries that Euclid had made himself. Euclid attempted to establish a fully rigorous system in which each theorem was proved on the basis of its predecessors, having as a starting point a set of self-evident axioms. It was used as the basic text on geometry throughout the Western world for about 2000 years.

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