Garfield's Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem

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This Demonstration shows President James Garfield's elegant proof of the Pythagorean theorem.

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The area of the trapezoid (step 5) can be calculated in two ways: as a trapezoid with base and heights and , or as the sum of the areas of three triangles:

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Multiply through by 2 and expand the left-hand side to get

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which simplifies to

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Contributed by: Alvaro José Ibarra Rivas (March 2013)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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James Abram Garfield (1831–1881), the twentieth president of the United States, published this proof in the New England Journal of Education.

Reference

[1] S. Klebe, "Garfield, the Pythagorean Theorem, and the Fight for Universal Education," Executive Intelligence Review, 22(9), 1995 pp. 50–51. www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1995/eirv22n09-19950224/eirv22n09-19950224_050-garfield_the_pythagorean_theorem.pdf.



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