President Garfield and the Pythagorean Theorem
Date: 7 Mar 1995 14:27:08 -0500 From: "Geraldine A. Chase" Subject: Pythagorean Theorem Dear Dr. Math, My first year algebra class is studying the Pythagorean Theorem at this time. I know that one proof of the Pythagorean Theorem was done by James Garfield, before he became President of the United States. Can you give me any more information? What year? Where is it published, etc.
Date: 7 Mar 1995 14:27:08 -0500 From: Annie Fetter Subject: Re: Pythagorean Theorem Hi Geraldine. This got passed on to me as supposed resident geometer. James Garfield discovered a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem in 1876, which was indeed a few years before he became President. It's based on the trapezoid, and is related to the proof that many people are familiar with the square within a square. I'm not sure where it was originally published - I got my information from a new book called Pythagoras Plugged In, which is just being released by Key Curriculum Press (it's a companion book to the Geometer's Sketchpad materials). If you'd like more information about the proof, just let me know. (As a hint as to how you might investigate his proof, draw the standard square-within-a-square picture. Now draw a diagonal of the inner square, and remove "half" of the drawing. Now you've got what he ended up with in his proof, though he constructed it another way.) -Annie, Consulting Physician
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