Plato was a philosopher, as well as mathematician, in Classical Greece and an influential figure in philosophy, central in Western philosophy. He was Socrates' student, and founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with Socrates and his most famous student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."
Plato's philosophical ability is evident in his Socratic dialogues; thirty-six dialogues and thirteen letters have been ascribed to him, although 15–18 of these are contested. Plato's dialogues have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion and mathematics. His other notable and influential work is the theory of Forms, which began a unique perspective on abstract objects, and led to a school of thought called Platonism. Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts.