Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics

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Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics
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The Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics was a school of mathematics and astronomy founded by Madhava of Sangamagrama in Kerala, India, which included among its members: Parameshvara, Neelakanta Somayaji, Jyeshtadeva, Achyuta Pisharati, Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri and Achyuta Panikkar. The school flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries and the original discoveries of the school seems to have ended with Narayana Bhattathiri (1559–1632). In attempting to solve astronomical problems, the Kerala school independently discovered a number of important mathematical concepts. Their most important results—series expansion for trigonometric functions—were described in Sanskrit verse in a book by Neelakanta called Tantrasangraha, and again in a commentary on this work, called Tantrasangraha-vakhya, of unknown authorship. The theorems were stated without proof, but proofs for the series for sine, cosine, and inverse tangent were provided a century later in the work Yuktibhasa ({{circa|1500|1610}}), written in Malayalam, by Jyesthadeva, and also in a commentary on Tantrasangraha.Roy, Ranjan. 1990. "Discovery of the Series Formula for pi by Leibniz, Gregory, and Nilakantha." Mathematics Magazine (Mathematical Association of America) 63(5):291–306.Their work, completed two centuries before the invention of calculus in Europe, provided what is now considered the first example of a power series (apart from geometric series).{{Harv|Stillwell|2004|p=173}} However, they did not formulate a systematic theory of differentiation and integration, nor is there any direct evidence of their results being transmitted outside Kerala.{{Harv|Bressoud|2002|p=12}} Quote: "There is no evidence that the Indian work on series was known beyond India, or even outside Kerala, until the nineteenth century. Gold and Pingree assert [4] that by the time these series were rediscovered in Europe, they had, for all practical purposes, been lost to India. The expansions of the sine, cosine, and arc tangent had been passed down through several generations of disciples, but they remained sterile observations for which no one could find much use."{{Harvnb|Plofker|2001|p=293}} Quote: "It is not unusual to encounter in discussions of Indian mathematics such assertions as that "the concept of differentiation was understood [in India] from the time of Manjula (... in the 10th century)" [Joseph 1991, 300], or that "we may consider Madhava to have been the founder of mathematical analysis" (Joseph 1991, 293), or that Bhaskara II may claim to be "the precursor of Newton and Leibniz in the discovery of the principle of the differential calculus" (Bag 1979, 294). ... The points of resemblance, particularly between early European calculus and the Keralese work on power series, have even inspired suggestions of a possible transmission of mathematical ideas from the Malabar coast in or after the 15th century to the Latin scholarly world (e.g., in (Bag 1979, 285)). ... It should be borne in mind, however, that such an emphasis on the similarity of Sanskrit (or Malayalam) and Latin mathematics risks diminishing our ability fully to see and comprehend the former. To speak of the Indian "discovery of the principle of the differential calculus" somewhat obscures the fact that Indian techniques for expressing changes in the Sine by means of the Cosine or vice versa, as in the examples we have seen, remained within that specific trigonometric context. The differential "principle" was not generalized to arbitrary functions—in fact, the explicit notion of an arbitrary function, not to mention that of itsderivative or an algorithm for taking the derivative, is irrelevant here"{{Harvnb|Pingree|1992|p=562}} Quote: "One example I can give you relates to the Indian Mādhava's demonstration, in about 1400 A.D., of the infinite power series of trigonometrical functions using geometrical and algebraic arguments. When this was first described in English by Charles Whish, in the 1830s, it was heralded as the Indians' discovery of the calculus. This claim and Mādhava's achievements were ignored by Western historians, presumably at first because they could not admit that an Indian discovered the calculus, but later because no one read anymore the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, in which Whish's article was published. The matter resurfaced in the 1950s, and now we have the Sanskrit texts properly edited, and we understand the clever way that Mādhava derived the series without the calculus; but many historians still find it impossible to conceive of the problem and its solution in terms of anything other than the calculus and proclaim that the calculus is what Mādhava found. In this case the elegance and brilliance of Mādhava's mathematics are being distorted as they are buried under the current mathematical solution to a problem to which he discovered an alternate and powerful solution."{{Harvnb|Katz|1995|pp=173–174}} Quote: "How close did Islamic and Indian scholars come to inventing the calculus? Islamic scholars nearly developed a general formula for finding integrals of polynomials by A.D. 1000—and evidently could find such a formula for any polynomial in which they were interested. But, it appears, they were not interested in any polynomial of degree higher than four, at least in any of the material that has come down to us. Indian scholars, on the other hand, were by 1600 able to use ibn al-Haytham's sum formula for arbitrary integral powers in calculating power series for the functions in which they were interested. By the same time, they also knew how to calculate the differentials of these functions. So some of the basic ideas of calculus were known in Egypt and India many centuries before Newton. It does not appear, however, that either Islamic or Indian mathematicians saw the necessity of connecting some of the disparate ideas that we include under the name calculus. They were apparently only interested in specific cases in which these ideas were needed.{{quad}}There is no danger, therefore, that we will have to rewrite the history texts to remove the statement that Newton and Leibniz invented the calculus. They were certainly the ones who were able to combine many differing ideas under the two unifying themes of the derivative and the integral, show the connection between them, and turn the calculus into the great problem-solving tool we have today."


Infinite series and calculus

The Kerala school has made a number of contributions to the fields of infinite series and calculus. These include the following (infinite) geometric series:{{block indent| frac{1}{1-x} = 1 + x + x^2 + x^3 + cdots text{ for } |x|
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  • C. K. Raju. 'Computers, mathematics education, and the alternative epistemology of the calculus in the Yuktibhâsâ', Philosophy East and West 51, University of Hawaii Press, 2001.
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| last=Roy
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| volume=63
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| year=1990
| pages=291–306
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  • JOURNAL, Sarma, K. V., Hariharan, S., 1991, Yuktibhasa of Jyesthadeva : a book of rationales in Indian mathematics and astronomy - an analytical appraisal, Indian J. Hist. Sci., 26, 2, 185–207,
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| last=Singh
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| last1=Stillwell
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  • Tacchi Venturi. 'Letter by Matteo Ricci to Petri Maffei on 1 Dec 1581', Matteo Ricci S.I., Le Lettre Dalla Cina 1580–1610, vol. 2, Macerata, 1613.

External links

{{commons category|Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics}} {{Indian mathematics}}{{Ancient Dharmic centres of Higher Learning}}

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