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In mathematics, the Euclidean distance between two points in Euclidean space is the length of the line segment between them. It can be calculated from the Cartesian coordinates of the points using the Pythagorean theorem, and therefore is occasionally called the Pythagorean distance.
These names come from the ancient Greek mathematicians Euclid and Pythagoras. In the Greek deductive geometry exemplified by Euclid's Elements, distances were not represented as numbers but line segments of the same length were considered "equal". The notion of distance is inherent in the compass tool used to draw a circle, whose points all have the same distance from a common center point. The connection from the Pythagorean theorem to distance calculation was not made until the 18th century.
The distance between two objects that are not points is usually defined to be the smallest distance among pairs of points from the two objects. Formulas are known for computing distances between different types of objects, such as the distance from a point to a line. In advanced mathematics, the concept of distance has been generalized to abstract metric spaces, and other distances than Euclidean have been studied. In some applications in statistics and optimization, the square of the Euclidean distance is used instead of the distance itself.
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