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This volume contains the first Six Books of Euclid's Elements, together with Appendices giving the most important elementary developments of Euclidean Geometry.
The text has been carefully revised, and special attention given to those points which experience has shewn to present difficulties to beginners.
In the course of this revision the Enunciations have been altered as little as possible; and, except in Book V., very few departures have been made from Euclid's proofs: in each case changes have been adopted only where the old text has been generally found a cause of difficulty; and such changes are for the most part in favour of well-recognised alternatives.
For example, the ambiguity has been removed from the Enunciations of Propositions 18 and 19 of Book T.: the fact that Propositions 8 and 26 establish the complete identical equality of the two triangles considered has been strongly urged; and thus the redundant step has been removed from Proposition 34. In Book II. Simson's arrangement of Proposition 13 has been abandoned for a well-known alternative proof. In Book IIT. Proposition 25 is not given at length, and its place is taken by a
simple equivalent. Propositions 35 and 36 have been treated generally, and it has not been thought necessary to do more than call attention in a note to the special
Finally, in Book VI. we have adopted an alternative proof of Proposition 7, a theorem which has been too much neglected, owing to the cumbrous form in which it has been usually given.
These are the chief deviations from the ordinary text as regards method and arrangement of proof: they are points familiar as difficulties to most teachers, and to name them indicates sufficiently, without further enumeration, the general principles which have guided our revision.
A few alternative proofs of difficult propositions are given for the convenience of those teachers who care to use them.
With regard to Book V. we have established the principal propositions, both from the algebraical and geometrical definitions of ratio and proportion, and we have endeavoured to bring out clearly the distinction between these two modes of treatment.
In compiling the geometrical section of Book V. we have followed the system first advocated by the late Professor De Morgan; and here we derived very material assistance from the exposition of the subject given in the text-book of the Association for the Improvement of Geometrical Teaching. To this source we are indebted for the improved and more precise wording of definitions (as given on pages 286, 288 to 291), as well as for the order and substance of most of the propositions which appear between pages 297 and 306. But as we have not (except in the points above mentioned) adhered verbally to the text of the Association, we are anxious, while expressing in the fullest manner our obligation to their work, to exempt the
Association from all responsibility for our treatment of the subject.
One purpose of the book is to gradually familiarise the student with the use of legitimate symbols and abbreviations; for a geometrical argument may thus be thrown into a form which is not only more readily seized by an advanced reader, but is useful as a guide to the way in which Euclid's propositions may be handled in written work. On the other hand, we think it very desirable to defer the introduction of symbols until the beginner has learnt that they can only be properly used in Pure Geometry as abbreviations for verbal argument: and we hope thus to prevent the slovenly and inaccurate habits which are very apt to arise from their employment before this principle is fully recognised.
Accordingly in Book I. we have used no contractions or symbols of any kind, though we have introduced verbal alterations into the text wherever it appeared that conciseness or clearness would be gained.
In Book II. abbreviated forms of constantly recurring words are used, and the phrases therefore and is equal to are replaced by the usual symbols.
In the Third and following Books, and in additional matter throughout the whole, we have employed all such signs and abbreviations as we believe to add to the clearness of the reasoning, care being taken that the symbols chosen are compatible with a rigorous geometrical method, and are recognised by the majority of teachers.
It must be understood that our use of symbols, and the removal of unnecessary verbiage and repetition, by no means implies a desire to secure brevity at all hazards. On the contrary, nothing appears to us more mischievous than an abridgement which is attained by omitting
steps, or condensing two or more steps into one. Such uses spring from the pressure of examinations; but an examination is not, or ought not to be, a mere race; and while we wish to indicate generally in the later books how a geonietrical argument may be abbreviated for the purposes of written work, we have not thought well to reduce the propositions to the bare skeleton so often presented to an Examiner. Indeed it does not follow that the form most suitable for the page of a text-book is also best adapted to examination purposes; for the object to be attained in each case is entirely different. The text-book should present the argument in the clearest possible manner to the mind of a reader to whom it is new: the written proposition need only convey to the Examiner the assurance that the proposition has been thoroughly grasped and remembered by the pupil.
From first to last we have kept in mind the undoubted fact that a very small proportion of those who study Elementary Geometry, and study it with profit, are destined to become mathematicians in any real sense; and that to a large majority of students, Euclid is intended to serve not so much as a first lesson in mathematical reasoning, is the first, and sometimes the only, model of formal and rigid argument presented in an elementary education.
This consideration has determined not only the full treatment of the earlier Books, but the retention of the formal, if somewhat cumbrous, methods of Euclid in many places where proofs of greater brevity and mathematical elegance are available.
We hope that the additional matter introduced into the book will provide sufficient exercise for pupils whose study of Euclid is preliminary to a mathematical education.