From Euclid's Elements to the methodology of mathematics. Two ways of viewing mathematical theory

Piotr Błaszczyk


We present two sets of lessons on the history of mathematics designed for prospective teachers: (1) Euclid's Theory of Area, and (2) Euclid's Theory of Similar Figures. They aim to encourage students to think of mathematics by way of analysis of historical texts. Their historical content includes Euclid's Elements, Books I, II, and VI. The mathematical meaning of the discussed propositions is simple enough that we can focus on specific methodological questions, such as (a) what makes a set of propositions a theory, (b) what are the specific objectives of the discussed theories, (c) what are their common features.
In spite of many years' experience in teaching Euclid's geometry combined with methodological investigations, we cannot offer any empirical findings on how these lectures have affected the students' views on what a mathematical theory is. Therefore, we can only speculate on the hypothetical impact of these lectures on students.


Elements, theory, theorem, triangulation, similar figures, Pythagorean theorem


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