The word ‘geometry’ comes form the Greek words ‘geo’, meaning the ‘earth’, and ‘metrein’, meaning ‘to measure’. Geometry appears to have originated from the need for measuring land. This branch of mathematics was studied in various forms in every ancient civilisation, be it in Egypt, Babylonia, China, India, Greece, the Incas, etc. The people of these civilisations faced several practical problems which required the development of geometry in various ways.
The Greek mathematicians of Euclid’s time thought of geometry as an abstract model of the world in which they lived. The notions of point, line, plane (or surface) and so on were derived from what was seen around them. From studies of the space and solids in the space around them, an abstract geometrical notion of a solid object was developed. A solid has shape, size, position, and can be moved from one place to another. Its boundaries are called surfaces. They separate one part of the space from another, and are said to have no thickness. The boundaries of the surfaces are curves or straight lines. These lines end in points.
Euclid’s fifth postulate is very significant in the history of mathematics. Recall it again from Section 5.2. We see that by implication, no intersection of lines will take place when the sum of the measures of the interior angles on the same side of the falling line is exactly 180°. There are several equivalent versions of this postulate. One of them is ‘Playfair’s Axiom’ (given by a Scottish mathematician John Playfair in 1729), as stated below:
In this chapter, you have studied the following points:
1. Though Euclid defined a point, a line, and a plane, the definitions are not accepted by mathematicians. Therefore, these terms are now taken as undefined.
2. Axioms or postulates are the assumptions which are obvious universal truths. They are not proved.