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with the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 4th millennium BC ~ c. 3rd millennium BC).

They designed a rulerthe Mohenjo-daro rulerwhose unit of length (approximately

1.32 inches or 3.4 centimetres) was divided into ten equal parts.This shows that the

maths was quite advanced even at that time but later on the inventions of some mathe-

maticians revolutionized the world.

The decimal number system and the place value system in

use today was first recorded in Indian mathematics. The concept

itself was one of the most significant inventions in the ascent of

Man for the growth of culture and civilization. To it must be

credited the enormous usefulness of its counterpart, the place

value system of expressing all numbers with just ten symbols.

And to these two concepts we owe all the arithmetic and mathe-

matics based upon them, the great ease which it has lent to all

computations for two millennia and the binary system which

now lies at the foundation of communicating with computers.

Already in the first three centuries A.D... The Hindu ancients were using a deci-

mal positional system, that is, a system in which numerals in different positions rep-

resent different numbers and in which one of the ten symbols used was a fully func-

tional zero. They called it 'Sunya'. The word and its meaning void were obviously

borrowed from its use in philosophical literature. Though the Babylonians used a

special symbol for zero as early as the 3rd century B.C. , they used it only as a place

holder; they did not have the concept of zero as an actual value. It appears the Maya

civilization of South America had a zero in the first century A.D but they did not use

it in a fixed base system. The Greeks were hampered by their use of letters for the

numbers.

Before zero was invented, the art of reckoning remained an exclusive and

highly skilled profession. It was difficult to distinguish, say, 27, 207, 270, 2007, be-

cause the latter three were all written 2 7, with a space in between. The positional

system is not possible in the Roman numeral system which had no expression or

symbol for zero. A number, say, 101,000, would have to be written only by 101 con-

secutive Ms. The Egyptians had no zero and never reached the idea of expressing all

numbers with ten digits.

2. Value of PI

The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, & he

explained the concept of what is now known as the Pythagorean

Theorem. British scholars had in the year (1999) officially pub-

lished that Budhayan's works date back to the 8th Century BC,

which is long before the European mathematicians like Pythagoras.

In ancient India conventional mathematics termed Ganitam

was known before the development of algebra. This is borne out by

the name - Bijaganitam, which was given to the algebraic form of

computation the inference that Bijaganitam was the original form

of computation is derived. Credence is lent to this view by the ex-

istence of mathematics in the Vedic literature which was also short-

hand method of computation. It is certain that this technique of

3. Algebra

Aryabhatta has referred to Bijaganitam in his treatise on Mathematics, Aryabhattiya. An

Indian mathematician - astronomer, Bhaskaracharya has also authored a treatise which is

dated around the 12th century A.D. is entitled 'Siddhanta-Shiromani' of which one sec-

tion is entitled Bijaganitam.

INDIAS CONTRIBUTION TO MATHEMATICS

4. Geometry

Even in the area of Geometry, Indian mathematicians had their

contribution. There was an area of mathematical applications called

Rekha Ganita (Line Computation).

The Sulva Sutras, which literally mean 'Rule of the Chord' give

geometrical

5. Calculus

Calculus, an Indian invention, was picked up by the Jesuit

priests from Kerala in the second half of the 16th century and taken

to Europe. This is how the Westerners got their calculus. Over time,

people forgot this link and the Europeans began to claim calculus as

their own invention. This myth still persists despite calculus texts

existing in India since thousands of years.

6. Pythagoras Theorem/Geometry

The famous Pythagoras theorem is explained sever-

al centuries before in the shulva sutras of the Vedas. It is

believed that the much travelled Pythagoras was a student

at the Takshashila University in undivided India and he

carried with him the knowledge of mathematics to the west-

The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 10**6(10

to the power of 6) whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10**53(10 to the

power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 BCE during the Vedic peri-

od. Even today, the largest number used in general is Peta 10**15(10 to the

power of 15)

8. Astronomy

The contribution to Astronomy by ancient Indians is so great that it does

not befit it to include it as one of the contributions of Indian Mathematics to the

rest of the world. It needs a separate forum all for itself. We shall leave it right

there except to add a note on the ancient contribution to the problem of telling

time at night by a look at the stars on the meridian. This part is usually not

emphasized.

The ancients of India have passed on to us 27 mathematical formulae cod-

ed in the Sanskrit language, but not very difficult to remember. In fact, very

possibly it has mostly come down to us by oral transmission from generation

to generation. For instance, the formula.

9. Srinivasa Ramanujan

The second decade of the 20th century compulsorily turned the attention

of the mathematical world to India and the Number Theory genius, Srinivasa

Ramanujan. The ideas and innovative genius of Ramanujan have not been

surpassed ever before or even 100 years after him. His birth, his super-

activity in Madras and Cambridge, his glorious rise to international fame and

unfortunate death - all happened almost in a flash. But ever since, India has

remained on the mathematical map of the world more and more prominently.

7. The Largest Number

INDIAS CONTRIBUTION TO MATHEMATICS

We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to

count, without which no worthwhile scientfc discovery

could have been made

- Albert Einstein

It is India that gave us the ingenious method of ex-

pressing all numbers by means of ten symbols, each symbol

receiving a value of positon as well as an absolute value; a

profound and important idea which appears so simple to us

now that we ignore its true merit.

But its very simplicity and the great ease which it has

lent to computatons put our arithmetc in the frst rank of

useful inventons; and we shall appreciate the grandeur of

the achievement the more when we remember that it es-

caped the genius of Archimedes and Apollonius, two of the

greatest men produced by antquity

19th century mathematcian Pierre-Simon Laplace

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