Sep 8, 2009

Posted by in Indian Mathematics

India’s contribution to the field of Mathematics

India has contributed considerably to the field of Mathematics for long. The research on Mathematics in India is as old as Rigveda – the oldest scripture to date today and some of the best known contributors being Aryabhata, Brahmagupta & Bhaskara II. These Indian mathematicians made early contributions to the study of the decimal number system, invention of zero, negative numbers, arithmetic, trigonometry and algebra. It was later when these mathematical concepts were transmitted to the Middle East, China & Europe and led to further developments that now form the foundations of many areas of mathematics all across the planet.

Development of a series of expansions for trigonometric functions, sine, cosine & arc tangent, by the Mathematicians of the Kerala School in the fifteenth century CE were a landmark in the Indian Mathematics. Their remarkable work, completed two centuries before the invention of calculus in Europe, provided what is now considered the first example of a power series (apart from geometric series). However, they did not formulate a systematic theory of differentiation and integration, nor is there any direct evidence of their results being transmitted outside Kerala.

Excavations at Harappa, Mohenjo-daro & other sites of the Indus Valley Civilization have uncovered evidence of the use of “practical mathematics”. People of the Indus Valley Civilization manufactured bricks whose dimensions were in the proportion 4:2:1, considered favorable for the stability of a brick structure. They used a standardized system of weights based on the ratios: 1/20, 1/10, 1/5, 1/2, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500, with the unit weight equaling approximately 28 grams (approximately equal to the English ounce or Greek uncia). They mass produced weights in regular geometrical shapes, which included hexahedra, barrels, cones and cylinders, thereby demonstrating knowledge of basic geometry.

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