History and applications
There were three facets to the development of coordinate geometry:
- the invention of a system of coordinates
- the recognition of the correspondence between geometry and algebra
- the graphic representation of relations and functions.
The Greek mathematician Menaechmus (380–320 BCE) proved theorems using a method that was very close to using coordinates, and it has sometimes been maintained that he had introduced coordinate geometry.
Apollonius of Perga (262–190 BCE) dealt with problems in a manner that may be called a coordinate geometry of one dimension, with the question of finding points on a line that were in a ratio to the others. The results and ideas of the ancient Greeks provided a motivation for the development of coordinate geometry.
Coordinate geometry has traditionally been attributed to René Descartes (1599–1650) and Pierre de Fermat (1601–1665), who independently provided the beginning of the subject as we know it today.