Prof. K. L. Sebastian

Mathematics in Kerala during 1350-1600 AD

Did you know that Mathematics flourished in what is the present day Kerala, in India during this period and that great mathematicians lived in this area?  Madhava (1340-1425), who belonged to the area of Cochin,  knew the series now known as the Gregory series, discovered by the Scottish mathematician Gregory in 1667. 

It is: arctan(x) =  x - x^3/3 + x^5/5 +....      for abs(x)  < 1.

He also knew the series expansion for sin(x). 

He gave the value of pi correct to eleven decimal places!

Nilakantha Somayaji (c. 1444-1545) improved upon the series techniques of Madhava.  He also proposed a heliocentric model of the solar system.

You can get more information from the following books/link

  1. George Gheverghese Joseph: The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics (3rd Edition, jointly published by Princeton University Press and Penguin Books  2000).
  2. Link to History of Indian Mathematics School of Mathematics and Statistics at University_of_St_Andrews,_Scotland.
  3. S. Parameswaran: The Golden age of Indian Mathematics, published by Swedeshi Science Movement, Convent Road, Cochin-35, Kerala (1998).

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