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Portal:Mathematics

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Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.

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Title page of Sir Henry Billingsley's first English version of Euclid's Elements, 1570 (560x900).jpg
The frontispiece of Sir Henry Billingsley's first English version of Euclid's Elements, 1570
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Euclid's Elements (Greek: Στοιχεῖα) is a mathematical and geometric treatise, consisting of 13 books, written by the Hellenistic mathematician Euclid in Egypt during the early 3rd century BC. It comprises a collection of definitions, postulates (axioms), propositions (theorems) and proofs thereof. Euclid's books are in the fields of Euclidean geometry, as well as the ancient Greek version of number theory. The Elements is one of the oldest extant axiomatic deductive treatments of geometry, and has proven instrumental in the development of logic and modern science.

It is considered one of the most successful textbooks ever written: the Elements was one of the very first books to go to press, and is second only to the Bible in number of editions published (well over 1000). For centuries, when the quadrivium was included in the curriculum of all university students, knowledge of at least part of Euclid's Elements was required of all students. Not until the 20th century did it cease to be considered something all educated people had read. It is still (though rarely) used as a basic introduction to geometry today.

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diagram of a unit circle and several associated triangles whose side lengths are the values of the various trigonometric functions
Credit: Steven G. Johnson (original version)

This is a graphical construction of the various trigonometric functions from a unit circle centered at the origin, O, and two points, A and D, on the circle separated by a central angle θ. The triangle AOC has side lengths cos θ (OC, the side adjacent to the angle θ) and sin θ (AC, the side opposite the angle), and a hypotenuse of length 1 (because the circle has unit radius). When the tangent line AE to the circle at point A is drawn to meet the extension of OD beyond the limits of the circle, the triangle formed, AOE, contains sides of length tan θ (AE) and sec θ (OE). When the tangent line is extended in the other direction to meet the line OF drawn perpendicular to OC, the triangle formed, AOF, has sides of length cot θ (AF) and csc θ (OF). In addition to these common trigonometric functions, the diagram also includes some functions that have fallen into disuse: the chord (AD), versine (CD), exsecant (DE), coversine (GH), and excosecant (FH). First used in the early Middle Ages by Indian and Islamic mathematicians to solve simple geometrical problems (e.g., solving triangles), the trigonometric functions today are used in sophisticated two- and three-dimensional computer modeling (especially when rotating modeled objects), as well as in the study of sound and other mechanical waves, light (electromagnetic waves), and electrical networks.

Did you know...
  • ...that as of April 2010 only 35 even numbers have been found that are not the sum of two primes which are each in a Twin Primes pair? ref
  • ...that people are significantly slower to identify the parity of zero than other whole numbers, regardless of age, language spoken, or whether the symbol or word for zero is used?
  • ...that Auction theory was successfully used in 1994 to sell FCC airwave spectrum, in a financial application of game theory?
  • ...properties of Pascal's triangle have application in many fields of mathematics including combinatorics, algebra, calculus and geometry?
  • ...work in artificial intelligence makes use of Swarm intelligence, which has foundations in the behavorial examples found in nature of ants, birds, bees, and fish among others?
  • ...that statistical properties dictated by Benford's Law are used in auditing of financial accounts as one means of detecting fraud?

                         

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Index of mathematics articles

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