Redefining Geometrical Exactness

Part of the series Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences pp 211-221

Geometrical problem solving — the state of the art c. 1635

  • Henk J. M. BosAffiliated withFaculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Utrecht

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The present chapter concludes my discussion of the early modern tradition of geometrical problem solving before Descartes. Problem solving constituted the primary context of Descartes’ geometrical studies to which Part II is devoted. His contributions, however, changed the theory and practice of geometrical problem solving in so fundamental a manner that they eclipsed many of the techniques, concepts, and concerns of the earlier tradition. It is therefore appropriate to conclude Part I by a sketch of the state of the art of geometrical problem solving around 1635, that is, just before Descartes published his innovations (and also before Fermat’s new techniques began to circulate among cognoscenti).