Q:

What is the history of the Cartesian plane?

A:

Quick Answer

Although certain concepts key to the Cartesian plane are found in works as early as ancient Greece, scholars credit Rene Descartes with the critical concept of applying algebra to geometry. Descartes introduced the notion of arithmetizing analytical geometry by assigning coordinates to two points in a plane. After Descartes published his theories, other mathematicians immediately began expanding upon his ideas and developing the Cartesian plane.

Know More

Full Answer

Apollonius of Greece found rudimentary ways to solve geometrical problems, and the French cleric Nicole Oresme of the 14th century used systems similar to Cartesian coordinates. However, it was not until Rene Descartes in 1637, that Euclidean geometry and algebra were at last united.

Scholars named the coordinate system after Descartes; however, many of the features of the modern Cartesian plane were additions by subsequent mathematicians. Descartes only worked with the x-axis and in the first quadrant; up until that time, the concepts of zero and negative numbers were not common.

It was Isaac Newton who first went beyond the use of positive distances. In his publication "Enumerations of Curves of Third Degree," Newton pioneered the use of perpendicular axes that included both positive and negative numbers. He even set the precedent of using x to label the horizontal axis, y for the vertical axis and 0 for the intersection.

Learn More

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Who invented the coordinate plane?

    A:

    The Cartesian coordinate plane was invented by French philosopher Rene Descartes in the 17th century. It was a revolutionary development in math because it allowed algebraic equations to be used to describe geometric shapes, providing the first systematic link between these two fields.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a plane in geometry?

    A:

    In geometry, a plane is defined as a flat, infinite surface. It has infinite length and width but no thickness. A plane is thus a two-dimensional, boundless surface and a subset of space.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Who invented the wood plane?

    A:

    The earliest known wood plane was uncovered in Pompeii and is attributed to the Romans. The wood plane has been in use by craftsman since Ancient Egypt, so its creation cannot be documented to a single inventor.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    When was the inclined plane discovered?

    A:

    The first recorded use of inclined planes in construction happened around 2600 B.C. when ramps were used in the construction of the Great Pyramids. It is likely, however, that both natural and artificial inclined planes have been used since antiquity.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore