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Book Review: The Great Indian Mathematicians

Tekriwal discusses the decimal ruler discovered by archaeologists intimately. It is often known as the Mohenjo-Daro ruler due to the place the place it was found

If you could have a eager curiosity in both arithmetic or historical past, maybe each, Gaurav Tekriwal’s new guide is correct up your alley. Titled ‘The Great Indian Mathematicians: 15 Pioneers Who Put Indian Mathematics on the World Map’, it has been revealed by Puffin Books. Apart from being an educator and creator, Tekriwal can also be the founder and president of the Vedic Maths Forum India. This ought to clarify his super ardour for the topic that he writes about.

I didn’t develop up having fun with arithmetic, so I’m at all times a bit puzzled when folks wax eloquent about how fascinated they’re by this topic, its real-life functions, and its connections to philosophy and aesthetics. I suppose a very good trainer in a single’s early years makes an enormous distinction and helps domesticate an appreciation for arithmetic and its mysteries.

Tekriwal’s guide known as out to me as a result of it seems at Indian historical past from a singular vantage level — the contributions of Indian mathematicians unfold out over 5000 years. Antra Okay’s sketch of ace mathematician Shakuntala Devi on the guide’s entrance cowl jogged my memory of Anu Menon’s fantastic biopic Shakuntala Devi (2020) starring Vidya Balan. Therefore, I made a decision to plunge in, and study a few of the different geniuses who got here earlier than her and after.

“We, as a nation, were colonized for over 200 years and our perception of the history of Indian maths and mathematicians was distorted and corrupted. We started losing faith in our own culture and heritage and started looking at things from a Western standpoint,” writes Tekriwal in his introduction to this guide. He provides, “Many concepts that were widely believed to have originated from the English-speaking world were discovered in India.”

If this feels like a tall declare, you may want to try the bibliography in the direction of the top of the guide. It presents a chapter-wise record of sources that the creator has drawn on whereas researching and writing. The record consists of books, newspaper studies, YouTube movies, and web sites. Some of the chapters additionally include QR codes that readers can scan in the event that they need to entry supplementary audio-visual assets and enrich their understanding of ideas.

After studying Tekriwal’s guide, I’m excited to look at The Story of Maths (2008) — a tv collection narrated by arithmetic professor Marcus Du Sautoy — other than Matt Brown’s movie The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) that includes Dev Patel, and Vikas Bahl’s movie Super 30 (2019) with Hrithik Roshan. Tekriwal recommends these assets to get acquainted with three excellent mathematicians from India — Madhava, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and Anand Kumar.

Madhava, who was additionally an astronomer, laid the muse for the Kerala School of Mathematics that flourished between the late 14th century and the 18th century. Tekriwal writes, “He made groundbreaking discoveries by moving away from the traditional finite processes of algebra to infinity with its implications on the future development of calculus — a vital tool for measuring time, making almanacs and finding directions at sea.”

Tekriwal tells the story behind the so-called Hardy-Ramanujan quantity and the collaboration between this Indian mathematician and his British mentor GH Hardy at Cambridge University. Ramanujan achieved loads in his brief life. He was 32 when he died. To honour him and proceed his legacy, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICPT) in Italy has instituted the ICTP Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians from Developing Countries.

Tekriwal additionally makes a quick point out of the Ramanujan Museum in Chennai, which I knew nothing of till I learn this guide. It is positioned within the premises of the Avvai Cultural Academy in Royapuram, the place the mathematician’s images, memorabilia and correspondence are preserved for the advantage of folks excited about studying about his stellar achievements. I hope to go to this place of historic significance the subsequent time I make a visit to Chennai.

Anand Kumar from Patna, who’s an internationally famend arithmetic educator, runs the Ramanujan School of Mathematics. He is greatest recognized for initiating the Super 30 programme that gives high-quality and free teaching to “students from economically impoverished sections” for the Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE). They are additionally supplied with meals, lodging and research materials for an entire yr.

The most intriguing chapter in Tekriwal’s guide is the one in regards to the Indus Valley Civilization. He writes, “If you were at the site of the Indus Valley excavation, you would find that the city roads intersect with each other perpendicularly (at right angles) like a grid. The houses were made with bricks that maintained the ratio of 4:2:1 for the length, width and height…there was a standard system of weights and measures in place in the entire civilization.”

While going by this guide, it is very important keep in mind that territorial boundaries and political realities have modified loads between 3000 BCE and immediately. The Indus Valley Civilization, as an example, is a shared heritage of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as a result of it stretched over a big landmass that’s now divided into completely different nation-states.

Tekriwal discusses the decimal ruler discovered by archaeologists intimately. It is often known as the Mohenjo-Daro ruler due to the place the place it was found. He writes, “This ruler was divided into units corresponding to 1.32 inches and these markings are done with amazing accuracy to within 0.005 of an inch. This length has thus been named the Indus inch.”

In this guide, you’ll get to train your psychological muscular tissues by fixing numerous mathematical issues and likewise meet mathematicians corresponding to Baudhayana, Pingala, Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Varahamihira, Bhaskaracharya, Narayana Pandita, Sridharacharya, Mahaviracharya, Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji, Manjul Bhargava, amongst others. All of them have contributed richly not solely to the historical past of arithmetic however to the historical past of India.

I questioned why Shakuntala Devi, known as “the human computer”, is the one lady within the guide. Surprisingly, there isn’t a point out of Anita Rampal and Parvin Sinclair, who’re achieved students and math educators. They have been related to India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training and different educational establishments. If Tekriwal addresses these gaps within the subsequent version, that will be a welcome addition to a superb guide.

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