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Euclid

Euclid may have been a student of Aristotle. He founded the school of mathematics at the great university of Alexandria. He was the first to prove that there are infinitely many prime numbers; he proved the unique factorization theorem ("Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic"); and devised *Euclid's algorithm* for computing gcd. He introduced the Mersenne primes and observed that **(M**^{2}+M)/2 is always perfect (in the sense of Pythagoras) if **M** is Mersenne. (The converse, that any even perfect number has such a corresponding Mersenne prime, was tackled by Alhazen and proven by Euler.) He proved that there are only five "Platonic solids," as well as theorems of geometry far too numerous to summarize; among many with special historical interest is the proof that rigid-compass constructions can be implemented with collapsing-compass constructions. Among several books attributed to Euclid are *The Division of the Scale* (a mathematical discussion of music), *The Optics*, *The Cartoptrics* (a treatise on the theory of mirrors), a book on spherical geometry, a book on logic fallacies, and his comprehensive math textbook *The Elements*. Several of his masterpieces have been lost, including works on conic sections and other advanced geometric topics. Apparently Desargues' Homology Theorem (a pair of triangles is coaxial if and only if it is copolar) was proved in one of these lost works; this is the fundamental theorem which initiated the study of projective geometry. Euclid ranks #14 on Michael Hart's famous list of the Most Influential Persons in History. *The Elements* introduced the notions of axiom and theorem; was used as a textbook for 2000 years; and in fact is still the basis for high school geometry, making Euclid the leading mathematics teacher of all time. Some think his best inspiration was recognizing that the Parallel Postulate must be an axiom rather than a theorem.

There are many famous quotations about Euclid and his books. Abraham Lincoln abandoned his law studies when he didn't know what "demonstrate" meant and "went home to my father's house [to read Euclid], and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what demonstrate means, and went back to my law studies."

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