where c represents the length of the hypotenuse and a and b the lengths of the triangle's other two sides. The theorem, whose history is the subject of much debate, is named for the
The theorem has been given numerous proofs – possibly the most for any mathematical theorem. They are very diverse, including both geometric proofs and algebraic proofs, with some dating back thousands of years. The theorem can be generalized in various ways, including higher-dimensional spaces, to spaces that are not Euclidean, to objects that are not right triangles, and indeed, to objects that are not triangles at all, but n-dimensional solids. The Pythagorean theorem has attracted interest outside mathematics as a symbol of mathematical abstruseness, mystique, or intellectual power; popular references in literature, plays, musicals, songs, stamps and cartoons abound.
The two large squares shown in the figure each contain four identical triangles, and the only difference between the two large squares is that the triangles are arranged differently. Therefore, the white space within each of the two large squares must have equal area. Equating the area of the white space yields the Pythagorean theorem,
Heath gives this proof in his commentary on Proposition I.47 in Euclid's Elements, and mentions the proposals of Bretschneider and Hankel that Pythagoras may have known this proof. Heath himself favors a different proposal for a Pythagorean proof, but acknowledges from the outset of his discussion "that the Greek literature which we possess belonging to the first five centuries after Pythagoras contains no statement specifying this or any other particular great geometric discovery to him." Recent scholarship has cast increasing doubt on any sort of role for Pythagoras as a creator of mathematics, although debate about this continues.