The mathematical concept of distance is fundamental in all mathematics and, since Bernard Riemann’s definition of manifolds, is also foundational in geometry and geometry of physics.
Contrary to a widespread belief, probably encouraged by that particular distance known as Euclidean Distance,
- I could not find a mathematical definition of distance in Euclid's Elements and
- I could not find any significant use of the word or of the concept except for Postulate 3, Book 1 ("To produce any circle with any centre and distance") – postulate in which the word is used just in the common sense of “separation” (notes on postulate 3, p.199, “Euclid’s the Elements”, Sir T. L. Heath, Dover)
Euclid, instead, speaks and deals with mathematical length – a particular magnitude.
I am not interested in the empirical and practical equivalence of length and distance. I am concerned with their significant difference with respect to the foundations of geometry.
I would appreciate some help on the following questions:
Are there specific references to the concept of mathematical distance in the Elements that I have been missing – may be because they are disguised in other wordings?
Are there any explicit discussions, in the Elements, that help to understand Euclid’s point of view on mathematical distance?
Is there any scholarly work in which the difference between distance and length has been analyzed with respect to the foundations of modern geometry – including historical analysis? (I am aware some geometers work on “Length Geometry” but I am not aware if and where they have done any analysis of the kind above)