non-Euclidean geometry

Introduction

non-Euclidean geometry, branch of geometry in which the fifth postulate of Euclidean geometry, which allows one and only one line parallel to a given line through a given external point, is replaced by one of two alternative postulates. Allowing two parallels through any external point, the first alternative to Euclid's fifth postulate, leads to the hyperbolic geometry developed by the Russian N. I. Lobachevsky in 1826 and independently by the Hungarian Janos Bolyai in 1832. The second alternative, which allows no parallels through any external point, leads to the elliptic geometry developed by the German Bernhard Riemann in 1854. The results of these two types of non-Euclidean geometry are identical with those of Euclidean geometry in every respect except those propositions involving parallel lines, either explicitly or implicitly (as in the theorem for the sum of the angles of a triangle).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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