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Any theory of the nature of geometric space differing from the traditional view held since Euclid's time. These geometries arose in the 19th century when several mathematicians working independently explored the possibility of rejecting Euclid's parallel postulate. Different assumptions about how many lines through a point not on a given line could be parallel to that line resulted in hyperbolic geometry and elliptic geometry. Mathematicians were forced to abandon the idea of a single correct geometry; it became their task not to discover mathematical systems but to create them by selecting consistent axioms and studying the theorems that could be derived from them. The development of these alternative geometries had a profound impact on the notion of space and paved the way for the theory of relativity. See alsoNikolay Lobachevsky, Bernhard Riemann.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on non-Euclidean geometry, visit Britannica.com.
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