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Euclids most famous work is his treatise on mathematics The Elements The book was a compilation of knowledge thatbecame the centre of mathematical teaching for 2000 years Probably no results in The Elements were first proved by Euclidbut the organisation of the material and its exposition are certainly due to him In fact there is ample evidence that Euclid is usingearlier textbooks as he writes the Elements since he introduces quite a number of definitions which are never used such as thatof an oblong a rhombus and a rhomboid The Elements begins with definitions and five postulates The first three postulates are postulates of construction for examplethe first postulate states that it is possible to draw a straight line between any two points These postulates also implicitly assumethe existence of points lines and circles and then the existence of other geometric objects are deduced from the fact that theseexist There are other assumptions in the postulates which are not explicit For example it is assumed that there is a unique linejoining any two points Similarly postulates two and three on producing straight lines and drawing circles respectively assumethe uniqueness of the objects the possibility of whose construction is being postulated The fourth and fifth postulates are of a different nature Postulate four states that all right angles are equal This may seemobvious but it actually assumes that space in homogeneous - by this we mean that a figure will be independent of the positionin space in which it is placed The famous fifth or parallel postulate states that one and only one line can be drawn through apoint parallel to a given line Euclids decision to make this a postulate led to Euclidean geometry It was not until the 19thcentury that this postulate was dropped and non-euclidean geometries were studied There are also axioms which Euclid calls common notions These are not specific geometrical properties but rather generalassumptions which allow mathematics to proceed as a
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