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The Thirteen Books of Euclid's Elements

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  2,873 ratings  ·  67 reviews
After studying both classics and mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Sir Thomas Little Heath (1861 1940) used his time away from his job as a civil servant to publish many works on the subject of ancient mathematics, both popular and academic. First published in 1926 as the second edition of a 1908 original, this book contains the first volume of his three-volume E ...more
Paperback, 446 pages
Published February 12th 2015 by Cambridge University Press (first published -290)
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Chris Duval As I understand it the original Greek was lost. The text survived in Arabic translation and west Europeans translated it from Arabic back to Greek. I'…moreAs I understand it the original Greek was lost. The text survived in Arabic translation and west Europeans translated it from Arabic back to Greek. I'm sure this effort realized a close approximation of the original but, even aside from issues of additional material added by editors, I doubt it could be exact, especially since Greek wasn't unchanged from Euclid's time to Hellenistic times to eastern Roman times.(less)
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Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with a pulse.
I am rating this primarily to boost its 4.64 average rating. I feel ridiculous reviewing it.
This book is good, and people with cerebral cortexes know that.
For reference, one person who gave it one star gave Allan Moore's "Watchmen" "graphic novel" (read: comic book) 4 stars.
. . .
If this book is not perfection, I am not sure what perfection entails.

The Elements is one of the ten most important, if not best, books ever written. There is no better course in deductive logic, much less geometry.
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: st-john-s-reads
"Euclid alone has looked on beauty bare." --Edna St. Vincent Millay

This is a statement I believe more strongly as I experience more of Euclid's propositions for myself. Before encountering Euclid, I had never considered mathematics to be something beautiful. Now, however, the sheer logical clarity with which Euclid attempts to grapple with the principles of the world around him actually brings tears to my eyes. From how he uses the idea of equality as a foundation for everything else to how he p
Roy Lotz
Euclid’s Elements is one of the oldest surviving works of mathematics, and the very oldest that uses an axiomatic framework. As such, it is a landmark in the history of Western thought, and has proven so enduring that the Elements has been used nearly continuously since being written, only recently falling out of favor.

Not much is known about Euclid, other than that he must have been an unparalleled genius. Nothing about his personality can be gleaned from this book either, other than that he wa
Adam Braus
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Geometry is not a given, it is a mystery.

Euclid invites the modern reader to rethink what a book is, and how we might have related to math differently as a child in school if The Elements had been our textbooks. What are the elements that the title refers to? What are the complexes that the elements make up?

You cannot just read this book, I would suggest demonstrating the proofs one by one on a board in front of peers, then discussing each one.

I have read a lot of books, this book is the most in
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelved, 2014
Update: Again, I find myself starting with the disclaimer that I did not actually read this in its entirety. And I never meant to. My goal was to work through the first four books and that I have done. Can I honestly say that I enjoyed it and am glad I did it. Yes, I really can. Not sure that it makes me a better or wiser person but it makes me SOUND like a better and wiser person when I get to say things like, "Oh, yes. It is like that time I worked through Book 3 of Euclid's 'Elements'..." Tha ...more
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never really began to understand mathematics until I encountered Euclid. If I had had this book as a child, I feel like my eyes would have been opened to a lot more than they were.

Euclid's Elements is the foundation of geometry and number theory. There is no long-winded explanation; instead, from a set of 23 definitions, 5 postulates, and 5 common notions, Euclid lays out 13 books of geometrical proofs. In each proof, he asserts a mathematical truth or asserts that a geometrical construction i
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In order to fully enjoy Euclid, you must first completely rid yourself of preconceptions about the world of mathematics. Euclid sets up his postulates and from there he proves what he needs to prove. There is very much a sense of wonder and excitement in reading Euclid. He proves things that we would never think to prove and he does so in a completely logical and beautiful way. With a climactic end in which he proves that the five Platonic solids - the cube, octahedron, tetrahedron, icosahedron, ...more
Valentin Chirosca
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, owned

Often called the Father of Geometry, Euclid was a Greek mathematician living during the reign of Ptolemy I around 300 BC. Within his foundational textbook "Elements," Euclid presents the results of earlier mathematicians and includes many of his own theories in a systematic, concise book that utilized meticulous proofs and a brief set of axioms to solidify his deductions. In addition to its easily referenced geometry, "Elements" also includes number theory and other mathematical considerations.

Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The original bible of geometry! Plato had an inscription above the entrance to his Academy: "Let no man enter here who is ignorant of geometry." From Plato's time to the 20th century, Euclid's "Elements" was the gold-standard for learning this most basic of the mathematical disciplines. When you read it, you will understand why. Every proof and every construction is worked out meticulously, step-by-step, such that there is zero doubt about the final result. Required reading for all truly educate ...more
Valentin Chirosca
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, owned

This edition of Euclid’s Elements presents the definitive Greek text—i.e., that edited by J.L. Heiberg (1883–1885)—accompanied by a modern English translation, as well as a Greek-English lexicon. Neither the spurious books 14 and 15, nor the extensive scholia which have been added to the Elements...

Francisco Tapiador
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
There are three crucial science books in the history of mankind. This is one of them. I have no idea how this guy could devise these ideas so soon. Enormously influential. Forget sudokus, the problems here are more interesting.
Dec 30, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
Wikipedia: "Euclid's Elements is the most successful and influential textbook ever written." Sounds promising :]
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite a thorough work. From reading this masterpiece and cornerstone of geometry, one can understand how impressive the original development was as a human achievement. Euclid wrote his Elements around 300 BC. He was one of Plato's younger students, but older than Archimedes. The 13 books of his Elements cover angles, line segments, triangles, rectangles, squares, the irrational numbers, parallelagrams, parallelapipeds, spheres, cones, and polygons. He gives a full treatment of area and never qu ...more
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
We are in -290, Euclid is writing down some obvious stuff, also called axioms by educated fools. Here goes my favorite. "Let it be granted that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another". Also by transitivity, the author of this gem certainly was an interesting fool. A fool trying to be consistent. Nowadays, we call these peculiar animals mathematicians. From there he plays with his definitions… I am writing this blah in Greece and can tell how much of nature he had to ig ...more
Okay, so Euclid is hugely important because he more or less originated the idea of a closed, axiomatic system of thought, the sort of thing that would go on to influence people like Vico and Spinoza, not to mention pretty much every mathematician who ever lived. Reading the Elements is about as exciting as reading a cookbook. You start with these parts, mix them together in this way, and get this whole. This way of thinking is probably too heavily ingrained into our mindsets after all these mill ...more
Luis Uribe
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tried to get through Elements in high school at the insistence of Fr. Rathmusen. Geometric construction was huge at Don Bosco Tech as were geometric proofs. I'm much more appreciative of the work today. It puts you in a very logical, regimented frame of mind; an essential for mathematics. This particular edition has notes, clear graphics comments that clarify the 19th century language nuances. This is a beautiful edition of a pillar of literature and science.
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes when I'm maximizing production functions I weep bitterly and think of my time with this book.
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All great minds have found fascination in the books of Euclid.
Constantine Ronquillo
... the answers are within the pages of this manual..
Sarah Locke
I had a college honors course that was based purely off of Euclid's Elements. This is what we used as our textbook. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and reading through some of Euclid's famous proofs.
Circul Wyrd
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, this Green Lion edition is wonderful. I have several other versions of The Elements which, while of historical interest, are not laid out so nicely. It is especially nice to have the diagrams repeated when a proof spans multiple pages. Since I have said this I should note however, that other editions have their own advantages. Of these, the 19th century Irish geometer Casey's works are particularly interesting among those I have seen because he extends the original with exercises and also ...more
Chris Duval
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
This particular edition of Heath's translation is user-friendly, particularly in repeating diagrams when a proof carries over to a new leaf. The font is large and the diagrams well-produced. The introductory material is helpful. I didn't use it but it does have an index that, for terms, includes the Greek.

The only supplement I needed whose need derived from the presentation was for Book XIII, Number 16, where several on-line sources have color-coding adding helpfully to the complex schematic.

Christopher Byram
I discovered this book when it was referenced in a document entitled "Background Reading" as part of an online course with Stanford University I am currently taking, entitled "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking". The leader of the course and author of the "Background Reading" document, Dr. Keith Devlin, mentions in the document that the Greeks made mathematics into an area of study, and the Greek approach culminated in the publication of Euclid's Elements, reputedly the most circulated book o ...more
Nathan Eckles
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Euclid's Elements is one of the most important books when it comes to geometry. It's a book that heavily deals with logic and shapes. This book is very important when it comes to the fundamentals of geometry. It goes over his five postulates that are the bases of all geometry. Abraham Lincoln even kept this book on him during his time as an attorney to help him with formulating proofs. I would suggest that everyone reads this book to help with understanding how to relate proofs to real life and ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful edition: the very well written introduction provides the perfect context to Euclid's work, the content id printed beautifully and is approachable by anybody, the original author's line of thought comes through clearly.

It hits both my analytical need to have all Euclid's statements in one place, my historical curiosity to see how it was initially devised such a seminal work, and my sciwntifi curiosity to understand it all.

It's like reading the manuscript of Bach's "Art of the fugue" a
May 29, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3rd-century-bc
Why do I want to read this?

The answer: I am not really sure.

I've heard that this book is the equivalent of reading Hegel in how truly difficult it is. The original greek text of this was lost and we only have access to the Arabic version. The elements was written in the early 3rd century BC during the reign of the first Ptolemy and Euclid's work was the first major addition to then newly established library of Alexandria.

I really want to read Ptolemy( the astrologer this time), but I need to r
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am have never been a math lover, appreciator, or even comprehender. But Euclid blew my fuckin’ mind. I can see a narrative thread and great romance in this ridiculously old goofily-worded text, and I’m forever grateful to Harold Stone for, for the first time in my life, enabling me to leave a math class feeling a sense of wonder and delight in my confoundment.

Seriously. Never in my wildest dreams. Long live Shimer College.
Don H.M
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some geniuses would give this book a bad review. Surely they can refute some of Euclid's proofs and are not spiteful because they didn't get past the Axioms section. I don't understand how Euclid managed to accomplish the proofs in this book without the use of algebra. It also contains THE algorithm that invented the concept of the algorithm. And the fucker proved it geometrically to show off...come to think of it, I can understand why people would hate this book. Euclid was a smartass.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply beautiful! Heath’s unabridged translation is made even more beautiful because of the amount of mathematics in the notes and commentaries. Geometry is a sea of forgotten & lost theorems and problems, and a truly amazing experience of rigorous mathematics. This book is definitely for the lover of maths. ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic in mathematics. Not an easy read, but very informative.
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Euclid (Ancient Greek: Εὐκλείδης Eukleidēs -- "Good Glory", ca. 365-275 BC) also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I (323–283 BC). His Stoicheia (Elements) is a 13-volume exploration all corners of mathematics, based on the works of, inter alia, Aristotle, Eudoxus of Cnidu ...more

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