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Seminar

What philology, archeology and history have to say about Pythagoras' theorem

Bremaud, P (Ecole Normale Superieure)
Thursday 13 May 2010, 16:00-17:00

Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute

Abstract

The problem of the attribution of the famous theorem is nowadays considered definitively solved by the archeological discoveries made in Mesopotamia. There remains however a number of questions, among which the crucial one: how come that it was given the name of Pythagoras, and could it be that the theorem was {\it proven} in the school of Pythagoras, perhaps even by the master himsel? If so, what kind of proof is it most likely that the early greek (if you do not want to say ``pythagorician'') mathematicians provided? Did the Indians know the theorem before the Greeks? How did the ideas travel from East to West?

This talk will summarize what philology, archeology and history have to say about these questions. It is based on a chapter of the forthcoming book ``Le dossier Pythagore, du chamanisme \`a la m\'ecanique quantique'', to appear in September 2010, Editions Ellipses, Paris.

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