1548 words - 7 pages

Geometry (Ancient Greek: γεωμετρία; geo- "earth", -metria "measurement") "Earth-measuring" is a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, relative position of figures, and the properties of space. Geometry is one of the oldest sciences. Initially a body of practical knowledge concerning lengths, areas, and volumes, in the 3rd century BC geometry was put into an axiomatic form by Euclid, whose treatment—Euclidean geometry—set a standard for many centuries to follow. The field of astronomy, especially mapping the positions of the stars and planets on the celestial sphere, served as an important source of geometric problems during the next one and a half millennia. A ...view middle of the document...

still have their intuitive meaning) and abstract spaces. Contemporary geometry considers manifolds, spaces that are considerably more abstract than the familiar Euclidean space, which they only approximately resemble at small scales. These spaces may be endowed with additional structure, allowing one to speak about length. Modern geometry has multiple strong bonds with physics, exemplified by the ties between pseudo-Riemannian geometry and general relativity. One of the youngest physical theories, string theory, is also very geometric in flavor.

While the visual nature of geometry makes it initially more accessible than other parts of mathematics, such as algebra or number theory, geometric language is also used in contexts far removed from its traditional, Euclidean provenance; for example in fractal geometry and especially in algebraic geometry.[1

The recorded development of geometry spans more than two millennia. It is hardly surprising that perceptions of what constituted geometry evolved throughout the ages.

[edit] Practical geometry

Geometry originated as a practical science concerned with surveying, measurements, areas, and volumes. Among the notable accomplishments one finds formulas for lengths, areas and volumes, such as Pythagorean theorem, circumference and area of a circle, area of a triangle, volume of a cylinder, sphere, and a pyramid. A method of computing certain inaccessible distances or heights based on similarity of geometric figures is attributed to Thales. Development of astronomy led to emergence of trigonometry and spherical trigonometry, together with the attendant computational techniques.

Symmetry

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A tiling of the hyperbolic plane

The theme of symmetry in geometry is nearly as old as the science of geometry itself. The circle, regular polygons and platonic solids held deep significance for many ancient philosophers and were investigated in detail by the time of Euclid. Symmetric patterns occur in nature and were artistically rendered in a multitude of forms, including the bewildering graphics of M. C. Escher. Nonetheless, it was not until the second half of 19th century that the unifying role of symmetry in foundations of geometry had been recognized. Felix Klein's Erlangen program proclaimed that, in a very precise sense, symmetry, expressed via the notion of a transformation group, determines what geometry is. Symmetry in classical Euclidean geometry is represented by congruences and rigid motions, whereas in projective geometry an analogous role is played by collineations, geometric transformations that take straight lines into straight lines. However it was in the new geometries of Bolyai and Lobachevsky, Riemann, Clifford and Klein, and Sophus Lie that Klein's idea to 'define a geometry via its symmetry group' proved most influential. Both discrete and continuous symmetries play prominent role in geometry, the former in topology and geometric group theory, the latter in Lie theory and...

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