Essay by Anonymous UserA+, September 1996

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Pythagoras (560-480BC)

Do any of you know who is considered the first true mathematician? Well, the answer is Pythagoras of Samos. He was a Greek philosopher and religious leader who was responsible for important developments in history in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and the theory of music.We know little of his early life, and even less of his writings. Everything that we know about him was through his students and disciples. He was born on the island of Samos in 560BC. He was taught about the teachings of the early Ionian philosophers such as Thales, Anaximander, and Anximenes. Pythagoras fled to Crotona because of political unrest in his homeland. It is there that he started Pythagoreanism. Pythagoreans believed that all relations could be reduced to number relations or in other words 'all things are numbers'. For example, he believed that things like justice could be explaned numerically.

This idea was based on his observations in music, mathematics, and astronomy. Pythagoras made most of his discoveries in the field of math. He, or perhaps one of his students, discovered one of the most important relationships in math. In geometry the great discovery of the school was the Pythagorean theorem. This formula states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. For example, a right triangle with leg lengths of 3 and 4 would have the hypotenuse be 5. A use for that time would be for marking off the boundaries of fields after the annual flooding of the Nile River. Math and geometry aren't the only areas that the Pythagoreans made advances in. They thought the celestial spheres of the planets produced harmony called the music of the spheres. Pythagoreans believed that the...