Who developed analytic geometry?
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Analytic geometry began when French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes (1596-1650; in Latin, Renatus Cartesius) published a work explaining how to use coordinates for finding points in space. He was the first to make a graph and presented a geometric interpretation of a mathematical function; this marked a step toward what is now known as Cartesian coordinates, a term derived from Descartes’s Latin name. Around the same time—and independently—French mathematician Pierre de Fermat (1601–1665) also did much to establish the ideas of coordinate geometry. But, unlike Descartes, Fermat did not publish his work. Both Descartes’s and Fermat’s ideas would lead to modern Cartesian coordinates. (For more about Descartes and Fermat, see “History of Mathematics.”)