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Analytic geometry

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Analytic geometry is a branch of mathematics which study geometry using cartesian coordinates (polar coordinates) or valid transformation of coordinates in the description of geometric shapes.

Spherical coordinates

In the figure we can see how a point in 3-space is described in polar coordinates and the transformation from polar coordinates to euclidean is



Analytic geometry began with Omar Khayyám, a poet-mathematician in 11th century Persia, who applied it to his general geometric solution of cubic equations.[1] He saw a strong relationship between geometry and algebra, and was moving in the right direction when he helped to close the gap between numerical and geometric algebra.[2]

René Descartes made significant progress with the methods of analytic geometry in 1637 in the appendix titled Geometry of the titled Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason in the Search for Truth in the Sciences, commonly referred to as Discourse on Method. This work, written in his native language (French), and its philosophical principles, provided the foundation for calculus in Europe.

Abraham de Moivre also pioneered the development of analytic geometry. The fact that Euclidean geometry is interpretable in the language of analytic geometry (that is, every theorem of one is a theorem of the other) is a key step of Alfred Tarski's proof that Euclidean geometry is consistent and decidable.


  1. Glen M. Cooper (2003). "Omar Khayyam, the Mathmetician", The Journal of the American Oriental Society 123.
  2. Boyer (1991). "The Arabic Hegemony". pp. 241–242. "Omar Khayyam (ca. 1050–1123), the "tent-maker," wrote an Algebra that went beyond that of al-Khwarizmi to include equations of third degree. Like his Arab predecessors, Omar Khayyam provided for quadratic equations both arithmetic and geometric solutions; for general cubic equations, he believed (mistakenly, as the sixteenth century later showed), arithmetic solutions were impossible; hence he gave only geometric solutions. The scheme of using intersecting conics to solve cubics had been used earlier by Menaechmus, Archimedes, and Alhazan, but Omar Khayyam took the praiseworthy step of generalizing the method to cover all third-degree equations (having positive roots). .. For equations of higher degree than three, Omar Khayyam evidently did not envision similar geometric methods, for space does not contain more than three dimensions, ... One of the most fruitful contributions of Arabic eclecticism was the tendency to close the gap between numerical and geometric algebra. The decisive step in this direction came much later with Descartes, but Omar Khayyam was moving in this direction when he wrote, "Whoever thinks algebra is a trick in obtaining unknowns has thought it in vain. No attention should be paid to the fact that algebra and geometry are different in appearance. Algebras are geometric facts which are proved."" 

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