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Mathematical Treasure: Julius Plucker on Geometry

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Julius Plücker (1801-1868) was a Prussian geometer who advanced concepts in analytic geometry. In his work he developed the analytic side of projective geometry. Plücker abandoned the use of Cartesian coordinates in the plane in favor of the use of a system of three coordinates to identify a point. In his 1835 book, System of Analytic Geometry, above, he provided a complete classification of cubic curves based on their points of projection at infinity.

Plate II illustrated the behavior of several third degree curves.

In his 1839 Theory of Algebraic Curves, above, Plücker gave a more detailed discussion of higher order curves.

The Special Collections staff at the Linderman Library of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is pleased to cooperate with the Mathematical Association of America to exhibit this and other items from the Library’s holdings in “Mathematical Treasures.” In particular, Convergence would like to thank Lois Fischer Black, Curator, Special Collections, and Ilhan Citak, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, for their kind assistance in helping to make this display possible. You may use these images in your classroom; all other uses require permission from the Special Collections staff, Linderman Library, Lehigh University.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Julius Plucker on Geometry," Loci (August 2014)