The Invention of Mathematical Proof in the Renaissance

In practice, mathematicians have been 'proving' their results in many ways, in many places, for thousands of years. In principle, however, what is a proof? Usually, we look to geometry, specifically the geometry of Euclid. But what are the fundamental building blocks of a Euclidean proof?

Until quite recently, the Renaissance, this question remained open—due to uncertainties about who Euclid was, the structure of his arguments, and even the layout of his pages.

This lecture looks at how the language and practices that we now associate with Euclid hardened into our dominant idea of proof in the 1570s.

A lecture by Dr Richard Oosterhoff

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

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