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ELEMENTS OF GEOMETRY,
A. M. LEGENDRE,
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH
MEMBER OF THE INSTITUTE AND THE LEGION OF HONOUR, OF THE ROYAL
THE USE OF THE STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY
CAMBRIDGE, NEW ENGLAND,
BY JOHN FARRAR,
PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY.
CORRECTED AND ENLARGED.
CAMBRIDGE, N. E.
PRINTED BY HILLIARD AND METCALF,
SOLD BY W HILLIARD, CAMBRIDGE, AND BY CUMMINGS, HILLIARD, & CO.
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT.
BE it remembered, that on the thirtieth day of May 1825, in the fortyninth year of the independence of the United States of America, Cummings, Hilliard & Co. of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, viz :
"Elements of Geometry, by A. M. Legendre, member of the Institute, and the Legion of Honour, of the Royal Society of London, &c. Translated from the French, for the use of the students of the University at Cambridge, New England. By John Farrar, Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. Second edition, corrected and enlarged."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled “ An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;" and also to an act, entitled, "An act supplementary to an act, entitled, 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
JNO. W. DAVIS,
Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.
THE work of M. LEGENDRE, of which the following is a translation, is thought to unite the advantages of modern discoveries and improvements with the strictness of the ancient method. It has now been in use for a considerable number of years, and its character is sufficiently established. It is generally considered as the most complete and extensive treatise on the elements of geometry which has yet appeared. It has been adopted as the basis of the article on geometry in the fourth edition of the Encyclopædia Brittanica, lately published, and in the Edinburgh Encyclopædia, edited by Dr. Brewster.
In the original the several parts are called books, and the propositions of each book are numbered after the manner of Euclid. It was thought more convenient for purposes of reference to number definitions, propositions, corollaries, &c., in one continued series. Moreover the work is divided into two parts, one treating of plane figures and the other of solids; and the subdivisions of each part are denominated sections.
As a knowledge of algebraical signs and the theory of proportions is necessary to the understanding of this treatise, a brief explanation of these, taken chiefly from Lacroix's geometry, and forming properly a supplement to this arithmetic, is prefixed to the work under the title of an Introduction.
The parts omitted in the former edition of this translation on spherical isoperimetrical polygons, and on the regular polyedrons, are inserted in this at the end of the fourth section of the second part.
Also an improved demonstration of the theorem for the solidity of the triangular pyramid by M. Queret of St. Malo, received too late for insertion in its proper place, is subjoined at the end.
Cambridge, June 4, 1825.
THE method of the ancients is very generally regarded as the most satisfactory and the most proper for representing geometrical truths. It not only accustoms the student to great strictness in reasoning, which is a precious advantage, but it offers at the same time a discipline of peculiar kind, distinct from that analysis, and which in important mathematical researches may afford great assistance towards discovering the most simple and elegant solutions.
I have thought it proper, therefore, to adopt in this work the same method which we find in the writings of Euclid and Archimedes; but in following nearly these illustrious models I have endeavoured to improve certain points of the elements which they left imperfect, and especially the theory of solids, which has hitherto been the most neglected.
The definition of a straight line being the most important of the elements, I have wished to be able to give to it all the exactness and precision of which it is susceptible. Perhaps I might have attained this object by calling a straight line that which can have only one position between two given points. For, from this essential property we can deduce all the other properties of a straight line, and particularly that of its being the shortest between two given points. But in order to this it would have been necessary to enter into subtile discussions, and to distinguish, in the course of several propositions, the straight line drawn between two points from the shortest line which measures the distance of these same points. I have preferred, in order not to render the introduction to geometry too difficult, to sacrifice something of the exactness at which I aimed. Accordingly I shall call a straight line that which is the shortest between two points, and I shall suppose that there can be only one between the same points. It is upon this principle, considered at the same time as a definition and an axiom, that I have endeavoured to established the entire edifice of the elements.