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(păp`əs), fl. c.300, Greek mathematician of Alexandria. He recorded and enlarged on the results of his predecessors, including Euclid and Apollonius of Perga, in his Mathematical Collection (8 books; date conjectural). The six and a half extant books, edited and translated into Latin by Commandinus (1588), stimulated a revival of geometry in the 17th cent.; Descartes expounded several of his problems. The collection was reedited by Frederick Hultsch (1876–78). Pappus' other works include a commentary on Ptolemy's Almagest.


See T. L. Heath, A Manual of Greek Mathematics (1931).



a winglike growth or very large trichome on the fruits and seeds of many plants. The pappus assists in the spreading of the fruits and seeds by the wind.



(Pappus of Alexandria). Years of birth and death unknown. Greek mathematician of the second half of the third century.

Pappus was the author of Mathematical Collections in eight books, only the last six of which are extant. The first two books were devoted to arithmetic, and the third through fifth books deal primarily with geometry. The sixth is on astronomy, the seventh contains a commentary on the works of Apollonius of Perga, including the latter’s Conic Sections, and the eighth deals with mechanics. Pappus’ work, a compendium of many works that have since been lost, is a valuable source for the history of Hellenistic mathematics.


Pappi Alexandrini collectionis quae supersunt, vols. 1–3. Edited by F. Hultsch. Berlin, 1876–78.


Heiberg, J. L. Estestvoznanie i matematika v klassicheskoi drevnosti. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936. (Translated from German.)
Sarton, G. A. A History of Science. Cambridge, Mass., 1952.



the aggregate of hairs or scales in a ring of one, two, or more rows on the apex of the inferior ovary and fruit of most plants of the families Compositae, Valerianaceae, and some others. The pappus helps in the distribution of seeds and fruits by means of wind, water, and animals.


An appendage or group of appendages consisting of a modified perianth on the ovary or fruit of various seed plants; adapted to dispersal by wind and other means.
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