Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How long would it take to read euclid's elements?

  1. Nov 23, 2008 #1
    for those of you who've done it, how long does it take to read it? all 13 books.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2008 #2
    depends on your level of math education and what your goal in reading them is. i read all 13 books over the course of the summer (about 2 months) after i finished my undergrad in mathematics. i could imagine that someone with less experience would have a much more difficult time following the reasoning each proof. however, i also spent some time while reading it filling in some details that are left out some proofs (i suggest you buy an edition with a lot of margin space) and creating alternate proofs of some results.

    how much experience do you have in reading mathematicians (as opposed to textbooks)?
  4. Nov 24, 2008 #3
    first of all, thank you for your response.

    i have never read any mathematicians before. i have done only freshman math, and scored very well in math all of my life (which means i read the textbooks). i am reading it because i really enjoyed highschool geometry and wish to learn more of it. so i know all the proof types very well and how to apply them.

    2 months seems like a very short time! i think the book is about 500 pages. was this all you did those two months? ie. how many hours did you read it a day?

  5. Nov 24, 2008 #4
    reading Euclid will definitely be a different experience for you, but undoubtedly a rewarding one. if there is anyone to read without any prior experience it would be Euclid.

    i'd say i read an average of about 4 hours a day on a daily basis. not too unreasonable when you think 500 pages over 2 months, which is less than 10 pages per day.

    i wish you the best of luck. it is by no means overwhelming, but will take some dedication.
  6. Dec 3, 2008 #5
  7. Dec 4, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    there is no rush, i am not finished after 66 years.

    reading math books is not a matter of finishing them, but of beginning them, and then spending some time regularly with them.

    you benefit from small portions, not necessarily needing the whole thing.

    just try to learn one thing. thats already a lot.

    in fact i think setting as your goal to read all of euclid is somewhat pointless, and just setting yourself up for a tedious time, and quite possibly frustrating yourself.

    these grandiose projects are in a way just more excuses not to get started doing something.
  8. Dec 4, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    if you really want to read euclid, try just starting. then if that bogs down, or even before, i highly recommend getting hold of hartshorne's excellent book, geometry, euclid and beyond as a guide. this is what he wrote for teaching euclid to berkeley undergrads.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook