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### Pythagorean Theorem

```
Date: 19 Jan 1995 13:13:05 -0500
From: Margaret Gallegos
Subject: Question

What is the Pythagorean Theorem?
```

```
Date: 19 Jan 1995 14:09:42 -0500
From: Dr. Math Margaret Patterson
Subject: Re: Question

Hi there.

Thanks for writing to us.  The Pythagorean Theorem has to do with the
lengths of the sides of a right triangle.  A right triangle is any triangle
which has one right angle (an angle of 90 degrees) - like this:  |__

If the sides next to the right angle are of lengths a and b, and the third
side is of length c, then (a*a) + (b*b) = (c*c).  When people say this,
they say, "a squared plus b squared equals c squared because when you
multiply a number by itself like a*a, you call it a squared.  This can be
written as a^2.

|\
| \              2    2    2
a |  \ c          a  + b  = c
|   \
|____\
b

Some numbers that work in this equation are, 3,4, and 5, and
5, 12, and 13

So if you are told that you have a right triangle whose sides are 3 and 4,
like this:

|\
| \             Then you can use this theorem to find out what the
3 |  \ c          third side is.
|   \           3*3 + 4*4 = 9 + 16 = 25 = 5*5, so c=5
|____\
4

Let us know if you have any other questions.

-Margaret, Doctor on call.
```
Associated Topics:
Middle School Triangles and Other Polygons

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