Friday, May 17, 2013

Mathematics and India

Mathematics is a wonderful world of numbers. We all know and have heard so many times that India's contribution to the world of mathematics is the number Zero (0). Whereas this is 100% true but is just part of the whole story. Mathematics as recorded in History in India dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization and the Vedas and goes till the modern times.

Indus Valley Civilization & The Vedic Period (3300–1300 BCE)

The people of the Indus Valley Civilization were among the first to develop standard weights and measures. Excavations at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, which have been the core of Indus Valley Civilization, shows the evidence of the use of Decimal system as weights related to ratios of 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 have been found. They had also developed Bricks for building blocks in the dimension 4:2:1 which is considered as the most stable dimension.

The Vedas from Vedic Period show the evidences of the use of numbers. Most of the Vedic Period mathematics is found in the Vedic texts that are associated with rituals. Sanskrit is the main language in which all the ancient and medieval mathematical work has been done in India.

Classical Period (400 - 1200 CE)

Classical Period is also known as the Golden Age of Indian Mathematics.  A Golden Age is a period in history relating to any discipline where great tasks have been achieved in that particular field. The Classical period is known as the Golden Age for Mathematics since it is during this period that we saw the great mathematicians such as Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara (7th Centuary), Mahavira, and Bhaskara (12th Centuary) who gave a broader and clearer shape to many branches of mathematics. Their contributions later on spread to Asia, the Middle East, and eventually to Europe.

Modern Mathematicians 

The most famous among the modern day mathematicians from India is of course none other than Srinivasa Ramanujan, who failed in English for his Intermediate and hence had to discontinue his studies and opted to self study mathematics. Others include the Shakunthala Devi, who again did not have any formal education. P.S. Mahalanobis the famous statistician is remembered for the Mahalanobis Distance, a statistical measure.

Watch for more in these pages for further details on these Mathematicians.

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