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.