Even the most non-professional in mathematics is familiar with Pythagorean theorem. They may not remember the formula, but they know they saw it at school once. This is perhaps one of the most important theorems in history. The one who elevated the Greek mathematician who gave him his name. There’s just one little problem: the Pythagorean theorem is actually much older than Pythagoras himself. Come on, it’s not yours.

This is discussed in the article IFLScience more than one Babylonian tablein which formula for calculating the diagonal of a rectangle, knowing the dimensions of its sides. Obviously this formula Pythagorean theorembut the table is taken for the year 1770 BC. Since Pythagoras was born in 570 BCabout 1000 years later, something doesn’t add up.

And this something is that in fact Pythagoras came to explain what was already known. In fact, it is not even clear that he used this formula. He met other mathematicians and philosophers in the Italian city Crotonein the so-called Pythagorean school. What was discussed in these classes was top secret. However, his students passed on their wisdom from generation to generation, practically without writing it down. Today, since there are few records, the knowledge coming from the school is mainly attributed to Pythagoras, but it is more than likely that much of it was the product of the minds of his students. Moreover, in this case, it seems that it was not even an original idea by any of them.

What does the Pythagorean theorem say?

The Pythagorean theorem is one of the most useful theorems in geometry. The formula includes all three sides of a right triangle. That is, a triangle with two sides called katetosform a right angle opposite the other side, called hypotenuse.

The formula states that the sum of the squares of the legs is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. But it is used for more than just calculating the sides of a triangle. It is used to obtain information about any geometric figure that can be divide into triangles this type.

For example, if we take rectangle and we will draw yours diagonal, We are left with two right triangles in which the diagonal will be the hypotenuse. Babylonian mathematicians may not have had much idea about the sides of triangles. But on this rectangular tablet they actually applied what would later become known as the Pythagorean Theorem.

Babylonian mathematicians recorded their knowledge on clay tablets. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Babylonian mathematics

The mathematicians of ancient Mesopotamia, located on the territory of modern Iraq, had very deep and well-documented knowledge. Unlike the Pythagoreans, the Babylonians wrote down all their theorems in clay tablets. It is logical that some did not survive to this day, so much of the information could have been lost.

But the surviving tablets revealed very interesting data. These mathematicians had very good knowledge about fractions and algebra. They explained how to solve equations, both linear, in which the unknown has no exponent, and quadratic, in which the unknown is squared. They also talked about prime numbersalthough they did not use this term, but used sexagesimal number systemsimilar to that now used to measure time, dividing hours, minutes and seconds by 60.

Therefore, it is not so strange that they have already written down the figures of what will later become Pythagorean theorem. It cannot be denied that the Greek was a great mathematician. But he may have become famous for many things he didn’t do.

Around him will be mathematicians whose knowledge will be sealed with his seal, transferring it into anonymity. In fact, among the members of this school was his own wife, Croton Theanus. Today, her enormous contributions to mathematics have received some recognition, but not nearly as much as her husband enjoys. Although in reality it may not have defined anything so new.

Source: Hiper Textual

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