Friday math movie: India’s contribution to math

By Murray Bourne, 05 Nov 2010

Today is Deepavali (aka Diwali) - the Hindu Festival of Lights marking the end of the harvest season and the triumph of good over evil.

So I thought it appropriate to feature a video which talks about the immense contributions Indian mathematicians brought to mathematical knowledge.

One of the greatest contributors was the 5th century astronomer Aryabhata, who gave the world a very good approximation for pi (accurate to 5 significant digits), a remarkably good value for the circumference of the earth (out by only 100 km in 40,000 km, when the Europeans still believed the Earth was flat) and significantly, gave us the number zero.

Interestingly, he didn't use numbers as we know them - rather, he used letters, similar to what the Greeks did.

So here's a (rather whacky) history of India's contribution to mathematics. It's worth looking past the presenter's nonsense to learn about such things as the invention of zero.

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