Understanding Pythagorean theorem

In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem, also known as Pythagoras' theorem, is a fundamental relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares on the other two sides. This theorem can be written as an equation relating the lengths of the sides a, b and c, often called the "Pythagorean equation":

Right Triangle

where c represents the length of the hypotenuse and a and b the lengths of the triangle's other two sides. The theorem, whose history is the subject of much debate, is named for the ancient Greek thinker Pythagoras.

The theorem has been given numerous proofs – possibly the most for any mathematical theorem. They are very diverse, including both geometric proofs and algebraic proofs, with some dating back thousands of years. The theorem can be generalized in various ways, including higher-dimensional spaces, to spaces that are not Euclidean, to objects that are not right triangles, and indeed, to objects that are not triangles at all, but n-dimensional solids. The Pythagorean theorem has attracted interest outside mathematics as a symbol of mathematical abstruseness, mystique, or intellectual power; popular references in literature, plays, musicals, songs, stamps and cartoons abound.

Other forms of the theorem

If c denotes the length of the hypotenuse and a and b denote the lengths of the other two sides, the Pythagorean theorem can be expressed as the Pythagorean equation:

If the lengths of both a and b are known, then c can be calculated as

If the length of the hypotenuse c and of one side (a or b) are known, then the length of the other side can be calculated as

or

The Pythagorean equation relates the sides of a right triangle in a simple way, so that if the lengths of any two sides are known the length of the third side can be found. Another corollary of the theorem is that in any right triangle, the hypotenuse is greater than any one of the other sides, but less than their sum.

A generalization of this theorem is the law of cosines, which allows the computation of the length of any side of any triangle, given the lengths of the other two sides and the angle between them. If the angle between the other sides is a right angle, the law of cosines reduces to the Pythagorean equation.

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