Thales's theorem

In geometry, Thales's theorem states that if A, B, and C are distinct points on a circle where the line AC is a diameter, then the angle ∠ABC is a right angle. Thales's theorem is a special case of the inscribed angle theorem, and is mentioned and proved as part of the 31st proposition, in the third book of Euclid's Elements.[1] It is generally attributed to Thales of Miletus, who is said to have offered an ox (probably to the god Apollo) as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the discovery, but sometimes it is attributed to Pythagoras.

triangol sì ch'un retto non avesse.

Dante's Paradiso, Canto 13, lines 101–102. English translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There is nothing extant of the writing of Thales; work done in ancient Greece tended to be attributed to men of wisdom without respect to all the individuals involved in any particular intellectual constructions — this is true of Pythagoras especially. Attribution did tend to occur at a later time.[2] Reference to Thales was made by Proclus, and by Diogenes Laertius documenting Pamphila's statement that Thales[3]

Indian and Babylonian mathematicians knew this for special cases before Thales proved it.[4] It is believed that Thales learned that an angle inscribed in a semicircle is a right angle during his travels to Babylon.[5] The theorem is named after Thales because he was said by ancient sources to have been the first to prove the theorem, using his own results that the base angles of an isosceles triangle are equal, and that the sum of angles in a triangle is equal to 180°.

Dante's Paradiso (canto 13, lines 101–102) refers to Thales's theorem in the course of a speech.

The following facts are used: the sum of the angles in a triangle is equal to 180° and the base angles of an isosceles triangle are equal.

Since OA = OB = OC, ∆OBA and ∆OBC are isosceles triangles, and by the equality of the base angles of an isosceles triangle, ∠OBC = ∠OCB and ∠BAO = ∠ABO.

This page was last edited on 29 May 2018, at 14:17 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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