Pythagoras, Greek philosopher and mathematician, 6th century BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving with letterpres from an early book (Grec chapter 25). Pythagoras (569BC -c 475BC) was the first pure mathematician. Born in Samos, Greece, he was educated in his youth by three philosophers who introduced him to mathematical ideas: Pherekydes, Thales and Anaximander. Pythagoras settled in Crotona, Southern Italy, where he founded a moral and religious school. 'Pythagoreanism' was both a philosophy and a way of life - followers had no posesions and were strict vegetarians. The school also made some important contributions to mathematics. Today, Pythagoras is best remembered for his famous geometry theorem which states that for a right angled triangle, the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.