Pythagoras and His Contributions to the Math World Although Pythagoras was not the best known Greek mathematician, he made many contributions to the way we use math today. Pythagoras is credited

with inventing the Pythagorean theorem. He also founded the Pythagorean

brotherhood. Pythagoras also invented a lot of number patterns. Plato and

Aristotle were influenced by Pythagoras's way of thinking. Also, he was a

Greek religious leader who made huge developments in math that may have

changed the math world.

Pythagoras of Samos is often described as the first pure mathematician.

He is an extremely important figure in the development of modern mathematics

yet we know relatively few facts of his life. We are not exactly sure of his birth

and death date.

Pythagoras was born in about 569 BC in Samos, Ionia. He died in about

475 BC but his death place is not known. Little is known of Pythagoras's

childhood. All accounts of his physical appearance seem to be false except the

description of a birthmark which he had on his thigh. Pythagoras's father was

Mnesarchus who was a merchant from Tyre. There is a story told that

Mnesarchus brought corn to Samos at a time of famine and was granted

citizenship of Samos as a mark of gratitude. Pythagoras's mother was Pythais

and she was a native of Samos.

Pythagoras took many trips in his life. His first came when he was only a

child. He visited Italy with his father. In about 535 BC Pythagoras went to Egypt.

This happened a few years after the Tyrant Polycrates seized control of Samos.

There is evidence to suggest that Pythagoras and Polycrates were friends at first

but when Polycrates abandoned his alliance with Egypt and attacked it, their

friendship abruptly ended. Soon after Polycrates death, Pythagoras returned to

Samos. Pythagoras invented many theorems. Probably his most popular

theorem is the Pythagorean Theorem. This is used for a right angled triangle.

This theorem enables you to find the length of the third side of a right triangle

when only knowing the length of two sides. This is considered his most important

contribution to math.

Pythagoras also invented the five regular solids. It is thought that

Pythagoras himself knew how to construct the first three but it is unlikely that he

knew how to construct the other two.

Pythagoras also founded a philosophical and religious school in Croton

(now Crotone, on the east of the heal of southern Italy) that had many followers.

Pythagoras was the head of the society with an inner circle of followers known as

mathematikoi. The mathematikoi lived permanently with the Society, had no

personal possessions and were vegetarians. They were taught by Pythagoras

himself and obeyed strict rules. The beliefs that Pythagoras held were:

(1) At its deepest level, reality is mathematical in nature,

(2) Philosophy can be used for spiritual purification,

(3) The soul can rise to union with the divine,

(4) Certain symbols have a mystical significance, and

(5) All brothers of the order should observe strict loyalty and secrecy.

This society defined figurate numbers to be the number of dots in certain

geometrical configurations (Mathematical Structures for Computer Science, Pg. 145).

Of Pythagoras's actual work nothing is known. His school practiced

secrecy and communalism making it hard to distinguish between the work of

Pythagoras and that of his followers. Certainly his school made outstanding

contributions to mathematics, and it is possible to be fairly certain about some of

Pythagoras's mathematical contributions. Pythagoras's accomplishments have

changed the math world tremendously and his contributions to the math world

are truly incredible.