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Q.E.D. is an initialism of the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum, which means "what was to be demonstrated". The phrase is traditionally placed in its abbreviated form at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument when what was specified in the enunciation — and in the setting-out — has been exactly restated as the conclusion of the demonstration.[1] The abbreviation thus signals the completion of the proof.


Etymology and early use

The phrase quod erat demonstrandum is a translation into Latin from the Greek ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι (hoper edei deixai; abbreviated as ΟΕΔ). Translating from the Latin into English yields, "what was to have been demonstrated"; however, translating the Greek phrase ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι produces a slightly different meaning. A better translation from the Greek would read, "what was required to be proved."[2] The phrase was used by many early Greek mathematicians, including Euclid[3] and Archimedes.

Modern philosophy

In the European Renaissance, scholars often wrote in Latin, and phrases such as Q.E.D. were often used to conclude proofs.

Perhaps the most famous use of Q.E.D. in a philosophical argument is found in the Ethics of Baruch Spinoza, published posthumously in 1677. Written in Latin, it is considered by many to be Spinoza's magnum opus. The style and system of the book is, as Spinoza says, "demonstrated in geometrical order", with axioms and definitions followed by propositions. For Spinoza, this is a considerable improvement over René Descartes's writing style in the Meditations, which follows the form of a diary.[5]


There is another Latin phrase with a slightly different meaning, and less common in usage. Quod erat faciendum is translated as "what was to have been done". This is usually shortened to Q.E.F. The expression quod erat faciendum is a translation of the Greek geometers' closing ὅπερ ἔδει ποιῆσαι (hoper edei poiēsai). Euclid used this phrase to close propositions which were not proofs of theorems, but constructions. For example, Euclid's first proposition shows how to construct an equilateral triangle given one side.

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