Person: Hippias Of Elis
Hippias was a Greek contemporary of Socrates whose only contribution to mathematics seems to be the quadratrix - a curve he may have used for squaring the circle and trisecting angles.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Perhaps the highest compliment that we can pay to Hippias is to report on the arguments of certain historians of mathematics who have claimed that the Hippias who discovered the quadratrix cannot be Hippias of Elis since geometry was not far enough advanced at this time to have allowed him to make these discoveries.
- However, their arguments are not generally accepted and there is ample evidence to attribute the discovery of the quadratrix to Hippias of Elis.
- However this is far from certain and there is some evidence to suggest that Geminus, writing in the first century BC, had in his possession a treatise by Hippias of Elis on the quadratrix which indicated how it could be used to square the circle.
- If this is indeed the case then the treatise by Hippias must have been lost between this time and that of Sporus in the third century AD.
- Book IV contains a description of the quadratrix of Hippias.
- However, Pappus reports that Sporus had two criticisms of Hippias's method with which he agrees.
- The point here seems to be a question of what exactly Hippias is trying to show with his quadratrix.
Born about 460 BC, Elis, Peloponnese, Greece. Died about 400 BC.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Geometry, Origin Greece, Puzzles And Problems
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive