Apollonius of Perga

Apollonius of Perga (Greek: Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Περγαῖος; Latin: Apollonius Pergaeus; c.240 BCE/BC – c.190 BCE/BC) was an Ancient Greek geometer and astronomer known for his work on conic sections. Beginning from the contributions of Euclid and Archimedes on the topic, he brought them to the state prior to the invention of analytic geometry. His definitions of the terms ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola are the ones in use today. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz stated “He who understands Archimedes and Apollonius will admire less the achievements of the foremost men of later times.”[1]

The conic sections, or two-dimensional figures formed by the intersection of a plane with a cone at different angles. The theory of these figures was developed extensively by the ancient Greek mathematicians, surviving especially in works such as those of Apollonius of Perga. The conic sections pervade modern mathematics.

Apollonius worked on numerous other topics, including astronomy. Most of this work has not survived, where exceptions are typically fragments referenced by other authors like Pappus of Alexandria. His hypothesis of eccentric orbits to explain the apparently aberrant motion of the planets, commonly believed until the Middle Ages, was superseded during the Renaissance. The Apollonius crater on the Moon is named in his honor.[2]


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