Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sir Isaac Newton: An Indian Perspective

Indian scholars predated Newton find by 250 yrs

15 Aug 2007, 0015 hrs IST,PTI

LONDON: A little-known school of scholars in south India discovered one of the founding principles of modern mathematics hundreds of years before Sir Isaac Newton, to whom the finding is currently attributed, according to new research here.

Dr George Gheverghese Joseph from The University of Manchester says the Kerala School identified the 'infinite series’ - one of the basic components of calculus - in about 1350.

The discovery is currently attributed in books to Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz at the end of the 17th centuries, the University of Manchester reported in its website on Monday.

The team from the Universities of Manchester and Exeter reveal the Kerala School also discovered what amounted to the Pi series and used it to calculate Pi correct to 9, 10 and later 17 decimal places.

And there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Indians passed on their discoveries to mathematically knowledgeable Jesuit missionaries who visited India during the 15th century.

That knowledge, the researchers argue, may have eventually been passed on to Newton himself.

The research was carried out by Dr George Gheverghese Joseph, Honourary Reader, School of Education at The University of Manchester and Dennis Almeida, Teaching Fellow at the School of Education, The University of Exeter.

Joseph made the revelations while trawling through obscure Indian papers for a yet to be published third edition of his best selling book The Crest of the Peacock: the Non-European Roots of Mathematics, the report said.

"The beginnings of modern maths is usually seen as a European achievement but the discoveries in medieval India between the 14th and 16th centuries have been ignored or forgotten," Joseph said.

"The brilliance of Newton’s work at the end of the 17th century stands undiminished - especially when it came to the algorithms of calculus.

Copyright © 2007 Times Internet Limited

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