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in 1637 as an appendix to Discours de la méthode
(Discourse on Method
The Discourse on the Method is a philosophical and autobiographical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. Its full name is Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences .The Discourse on Method is best known...
), written by René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...
. In the Discourse
, he presents his method for obtaining clarity on any subject. La Géométrie
and two other appendices also by Descartes, the Optics
and the Meteorology
, were published with the Discourse
to give examples of the kinds of successes he had achieved following his method (as well as, perhaps, considering the contemporary European social climate of intellectual competitiveness, to show off a bit to a wider audience).
The work was the first to propose the idea of uniting algebra and geometry into a single subject and invented an algebraic geometry called analytic geometry, which involves reducing geometry to a form of arithmetic and algebra and translating geometric shapes into algebraic equations. For its time this was ground-breaking given that algebra and geometry were considered completely separate branches of mathematics with no connection to one another. It also contributed to the mathematical ideas of Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...
and was thus important in the development of calculus.
Descartes is often credited with inventing the coordinate plane because he had the relevant concepts in his book. But no equations are graphed in La Géométrie
on the coordinate axes later known as Cartesian coordinates.
- Facsimile Wikisource (fr) : La Géométrie