Pythagoras' theorem is both the oldest and the most important non-trivial theorem in mathematics.
This is the first part of the first lecture of a course on the History of Mathematics, by N J Wildberger, the discoverer of Rational Trigonometry. We will follow John Stillwell's text Mathematics and its History (Springer, 3rd ed). Generally the emphasis will be on mathematical ideas and results, but largely without proofs, with a main eye on the historical flow of ideas. A few historical tidbits will be thrown in too...
In this first lecture (with two parts) we first give a very rough outline of world history from a mathematical point of view, position the work of the ancient Greeks as following from Egyptian and Babylonian influences, and introduce the most important theorem in all of mathematics: Pythagoras' theorem.
Two interesting related issues are the irrationality of the 'square root of two' (the Greeks saw this as a segment, or perhaps more precisely as the proportion or ratio between two segments, not as a number), and Pythagorean triples, which go back to the Babylonians. These are closely related to the important rational parametrization of a circle, essentially discovered by Euclid and Diophantus. This is a valuable and under-appreciated insight which high school students ought to explicitly see.
In fact young people learning mathematics should really see more of the history of the subject! The Greeks thought of mathematics differently than we do today, and all students can benefit from a closer appreciation of the difficulties which they saw, but which we today largely ignore.
This series has now been extended a few times--with more than 35 videos on the History of Mathematics.
My research papers can be found at my Research Gate page, at .... I also have a blog at , where I will discuss lots of foundational issues, along with other things, and you can check out my webpages at . Of course if you want to support all these bold initiatives, become a Patron of this Channel at ... .
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