In today’s world, there is hardly any student who has received elementary education but has not heard of the Pythagoras Theorem. But little does anyone know about its discoverer. This blog will attempt to sequentially check out its origins and how it progressed through history to become one of the most notable contributions to modern mathematics.

Pythagoras: Life and Love for Numbers

Starting here, let us take a deeper look into the person who gifted the world with this fantastic contribution. Pythagoras was a philosopher and mathematician from ancient Greece. He was born in 569 BC on Samos, an island near the coast of modern Turkey. Unlike most popular mathematicians, Pythagoras lacks writing, which makes tracing his contributions very difficult.

Pythagoras found a deep connection between the cosmos, its planets, and mathematics during his lifetime. While it may sound odd to many, he believed in a concept called the “music of the heavens.” It later came to be known as the “harmony of the spheres.” According to him, celestial objects move in a mathematical ratio, creating musical intervals.

The Believers of Collectivism

So, when was the School of Pythagoras established? The School of Pythagoras was established in the year 1200. It was called the “semicircle.” Initially, the school was for scholars and philosophers who followed his work. These scholars were known to be believers in collectivism. As a sign of respect towards their leader, all of the work done by the Pythagoreans was referred to as “Pythagoras Theorem.” This, combined with the lack of written records, made segregating the works increasingly difficult. A manuscript created by mathematician Elisha Scott Loomis comprises over 371 Pythagorean theorems. However, geometricians are still uncertain about the validity of some of the proofs. It was later made into a book titled “The Pythagorean Proposition” in 1927.

The Legend: A Dive Into Ancient Babylonians 

Babylonia, known as the Babylonian empire, was in ancient Mesopotamia. This city, currently deemed a world heritage site by UNESCO, existed around 4,000 years ago. Geographically, its ruins are found in Iraq.

Historians have discovered thousands of clay tablets from these ruins. Of these, several were seen to have wedge-shaped characters engraved on them. It is believed that the markings were done on soft clay, which was sun-dried or baked. These carvings were numbers based on the Babylonian numeration system. These tablets also proved that they knew how to determine the length of the diagonals in a square and the square root of numbers. Their calculations clearly show their familiarity with the Pythagoras Theorem. The Plimpton 322 (P322) is a historical artifact with engravings of complex Pythagorean triples.

Pythagoras Theorem

A Gist of the Pythagoras Theorem

In earlier days, Pythagoras of Samos viewed the theorem as part of geometry. He used it to calculate the area of squares in a right-angle triangle. According to this, the area of the square on the hypotenuse side is equivalent to the area of the square. 

With the rise of algebra in modern mathematics, the Pythagoras Theorem is now seen as an algebraic expression. The area is square and has been substituted by the sides of the right-angle triangle. Therefore, the theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse is the same as the sum of the squares of the remaining two sides. In other words, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum total of the squares of the perpendicular and the base.

Use of Pythagoras Theorem by Egyptians in Early-1900 B.C

Egyptian civilization has been part of the world for centuries. As per ancient topography, Egypt was only 500 miles southwest of Mesopotamia. This close proximity seemed to have an impact on the exchange of ideas. Even though there was a lack of terminology at the time, the pyramids built to bury the Pharaohs used a similar strategy. Historians are of the opinion that the builders used ropes with 12 knots for measurement. This helped provide stability to the walls of the giant pyramids.

Modern-day Applications 

The theorem has become a vital part of the elementary syllabus in the global education system. As for its real-life applications, the list keeps growing with each passing day. Let us look into some of the areas where the theorem has made all the difference.

  1. Security Purposes – With the upgrade in technology, the latest security cameras for facial recognition use the theorem. It measures the distance from the person’s face to the security camera, which is then projected via the lens.
  2. Construction Sites – Pythagoras Theorem is a common technique used on construction sites. Whenever there is a case of uncertain dimensions, the builders opt for the theorem. Use the length and/or breadth of the area to determine the dimensions. Carpenters and interior decorators also use the concept.
  3. Navigation – For seafarers, the use of the Pythagoras Theorem is a must. This helps them calculate the shortest distance while navigating through unknown waters. 

The Pythagoras Theorem has been a notable contribution to the world. It serves as the base for a variety of mathematical calculations. So, if this article piques your interest, all you math geeks out there, head over to BYJU’S FutureSchool blogs to learn more.


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