Date: Fri, 8 Nov 1996 23:30:42 -0600 (CST) 
Subject: Trig

Name:	Evans

Who is asking: Other
Level:	Secondary
i could use some info for a paper in CALC. Any idea who came up with some or most of the ideas involved in trigonometry?



There are many math history books that contain a chapter on trig, for example Carl B. Boyer, A HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS. (A later edition, with a second author, has the same chapter.) Boyer answers your question in his first sentence: "Trigonometry, like other branches of mathematics, was not the work of any one man -- or nation." He follows the story from the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians (1000 or more years before Christ) through the familiar Greeks, and up to Ptolemy, a Greek mathematician and astronomer who lived in Alexandria in the 2nd century AD. Ptolemy's famous book has always been referred to as ALMAGEST (= the greatest), since it collected together all trigonometry known up to that time and made all earlier works obsolete. Most high school trig can be found in that work. Whether or not Ptolemy himself discovered any of the results in his Almagest is still a matter of debate.


Go to Math Central

To return to the previous page use your browser's back button.