Here is a story that appeared in many newspapers. I thought it would have created some stir in media busy with the story of ghosts and miracles.
The research 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 has revealed that the ‘Kerala School’ identified the ‘infinite series’ – one of the basic components of calculus – in about 1350. Scholars in south India discovered one of the founding principles of modern mathematics hundreds of years before Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz (the end of the 17th centuries), to whom the finding is currently attributed. The researchers further reveal that 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 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. 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.’
I only wonder why this sort of researches doesn’t come from a university in UK and not from India. Even after the news appeared in media, why have some of the reputed historians of the country not reacted about it? Is it because of the inferiority complex, complacency or lack of dedicated application among our researchers?
‘Times of India’ has reported this development:
The recent claim by two UK-based researchers that south Indian scholars predated Sir Isaac Newton by hundreds of years in discovering the ‘infinite series’ has run into controversy with another mathematician alleging that the study findings were not new and originally done by him.
C K Raju, Editorial Fellow at the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture, claims he first started the research on transmission of calculus from India to Europe under the National Science Academy in 1998. Almeida later collaborated with Raju. Almeida and Joseph gained access to Raju’s unpublished work in course of the proposed collaboration.
Raju recently published book ‘Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th Century’ deals exclusively with the development of calculus in India and its transmission to Europe.