Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mathematics in India


All of you know that zero was invented in India. Right? What else do you know about Indian mathematics? Vedic mathematics, any one? Ah! I see lots of hands raised. Actually Vedic mathematics has been presented as a series of simple formula to solve mathematical problems and does a great injustice to ancient Indian mathematics. In any case it is a misnomer. It is ancient but not only from the Vedas.

It is apparent that ancient India had a great body of mathematical work. Zero cannot be a chance invention. Zero is not a number. It is a concept. And to use it along side natural number requires a well-established mathematical system in place. Not any disjointed, scattered mathematical recipes. The importance of zero is self-evident. I wouldn't be typing out this blog, but for zero. (The computer works on '0' and '1'.)

Now, for the first time, an effort has been made to collate all aspects of ancient Indian Mathematics. Kim Plofker is the author of the book called Mathematics In India. The book covers, among many other aspects, the following:

  • Mathematical Thoughts in Vedic India
  • Numbers and Numerals
  • Mathematics in Jain and Buddhist Texts
  • Mathematics and Astronomy in ancient India
  • Ancient Mathematicians such as Bhaskara, Narayana Pandit
  • Mathematics of Kerala
and so much more.

For a glimpse of the book you may visit the Princeton Website. You may also order the book from Amazon, by clicking here => Mathematics In India

Picture Courtesy: Jenny Rollo

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