 exhaustion, method of

in mathematics, technique invented by the classical Greeks to prove propositions regarding the areas and volumes of geometric figures. Although it was a forerunner of the integral calculus, the method of exhaustion used neither limits nor arguments about infinitesimal quantities. It was instead a strictly logical procedure, based upon the axiom that a given quantity can be made smaller than another given quantity by successively halving it (a finite number of times). From this axiom it can be shown, for example, that the area of a circle is proportional to the square of its radius. The term method of exhaustion was coined in Europe after the Renaissance and applied to the rigorous Greek procedures as well as to contemporary “proofs” of area formulas by “exhausting” the area of figures with successive polygonal approximations.
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Exhaustion — Ex*haus tion, n. [Cf. F. exhaustion.] 1. The act of draining out or draining off; the act of emptying completely of the contents. [1913 Webster] 2. The state of being exhausted or emptied; the state of being deprived of strength or spirits. [1913 … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
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analysis — /euh nal euh sis/, n., pl. analyses / seez /. 1. the separating of any material or abstract entity into its constituent elements (opposed to synthesis). 2. this process as a method of studying the nature of something or of determining its… … Universalium
geometry — /jee om i tree/, n. 1. the branch of mathematics that deals with the deduction of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, and figures in space from their defining conditions by means of certain assumed properties… … Universalium
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