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Studies in the History of Indian Mathematics

C. S. Seshadri, editor
Hindustan Book Agency
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Culture and History of Mathematics 5
BLL Rating: 

The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on

The history of mathematics in India is very rich. It involves a huge span of years and a great variety of mathematical work, ranging from the utilitarian mathematics of everyday life to incredibly subtle and sophisticated work. Much of it is written in languages that few scholars can read, and some of the earliest work is expressed in sometimes cryptic verse form. It is not surprising that the history of mathematics in India is under-represented in the standard history books.

The book under review is one more step towards redressing that fault. It is the result of a conference held at the Chennai Mathematical Institute bringing together both Indian and foreign scholars. The articles sample from the whole range of Indian mathematics, from the Śulvasūtras to the 1500s, from basic arithmetic and geometry to infinitesimal methods and astronomical models. In addition, the book includes two biographical articles, on David Pingree and K. V. Sarna, who were pioneers in the study of Indian mathematics.

Volumes like this one play a crucial role in transmitting the results of historical scholarship to a broader audience. More, please.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is Carter Professor of Mathematics at Colby College in Waterville, ME. With William P. Berlinghoff, he is the author of Math through the Ages.

  • K. Plofker -- Biographical sketch of David Pingree
  • M. S. Sriram -- Biographical sketch of K. V. Sarma
  • S. G. Dani -- Geometry in the Sulvasutras
  • F. Staal -- On the origins of zero
  • R. Sridharan and M. D. Srinivas -- Combinatorial methods in Indian music: Pratyayas in Sangıtaratnakara of Sarngadeva
  • D. Mumford -- What's so baffling about negative numbers?--A crosscultural comparison
  • A. K. Dutta -- Kuttaka, Bhavana and Cakravala
  • K. Ramasubramanian and M. D. Srinivas -- Development of calculus in India
  • P. P. Divakaran -- Notes on Yuktibhasa: Recursive methods in Indian mathematics
  • M. S. Sriram -- Planetary and lunar models in the Kerala works, Tantrasangraha (c. 1500) and Ganita Yuktibhasa (c. 1530)