Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mathematics and Philosophy

In India, mathematics is related to Philosophy. We can find mathematical
concepts like Zero ( Shoonyavada ), One ( Advaitavada ) and Infinity
(Poornavada ) in Philosophia Indica.

The Sine Tables of Aryabhata and Madhava, which gives correct sine values or values of
24 R Sines, at intervals of 3 degrees 45 minutes and the trignometric tables of
Brahmagupta, which gives correct sine and tan values for every 5 degrees influenced
Christopher Clavius, who headed the Gregorian Calender Reforms of 1582. These
correct trignometric tables solved the problem of the three Ls, ( Longitude, Latitude and
Loxodromes ) for the Europeans, who were looking for solutions to their navigational
problem ! It is said that Matteo Ricci was sent to India for this purpose and the
Europeans triumphed with Indian knowledge !

The Western mathematicians have indeed lauded Indian Maths & Astronomy. Here are
some quotations from maths geniuses about the long forgotten Indian Maths !

In his famous dissertation titled "Remarks on the astronomy of Indians" in 1790,
the famous Scottish mathematician, John Playfair said

"The Constructions and these tables imply a great knowledge of
geometry,arithmetic and even of the theoretical part of astronomy.But what,
without doubt is to be accounted,the greatest refinement in this system, is
the hypothesis employed in calculating the equation of the centre for the
Sun,Moon and the planets that of a circular orbit having a double
eccentricity or having its centre in the middle between the earth and the
point about which the angular motion is uniform.If to this we add the great
extent of the geometrical knowledge required to combine this and the other
principles of their astronomy together and to deduce from them the just
conclusion;the possession of a calculus equivalent to trigonometry and
lastly their approximation to the quadrature of the circle, we shall be
astonished at the magnitude of that body of science which must have
enlightened the inhabitants of India in some remote age and which whatever
it may have communicated to the Western nations appears to have received
another from them...."

Albert Einstein commented "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count,
without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made."

The great Laplace, who wrote the glorious Mechanique Celeste, remarked

"The ingenious method of expressing every possible number
using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute
value) emerged in India. The idea seems so simple nowadays that its
significance and profound importance is no longer appreciated. Its
simplicity lies in the way it facilitated calculation and placed arithmetic
foremost amongst useful inventions. The importance of this invention is more
readily appreciated when one considers that it was beyond the two greatest
men of antiquity, Archimedes and Apollonius."

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