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European calculus a derivative work? - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

European calculus a derivative work? [Jul. 11th, 2006|11:58 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

Apologies for the bad pun :)

While it is well known that singificant aspects of the infinitesimal calculus were invented in Kerala a century or two before they were known in Europe, this section of the same article examines the possibility that much of this knowledge was in fact transmitted to Europe from Kerala via the Arabs (the conventional view is that the Keralese work did not become known to the rest of the world until much later).

While there is no shortage of crazy revisionist theories of the history of Indian science and math, this sounds a little different. While all the evidence is curcumstantial, it is quite detailed, and there is at least one respectable-looking peer-reviewed publication: Almeida, D. F., John, J. K. and Zadorozhnyy, A. (2001). Keralese Mathematics: Its Possible Transmission to Europe and the Consequential Educational Implications. Journal of Natural Geometry 20, 77-104. The MacTutor article on the subject takes what looks like a somewhat sympathetic view (as part of the excellent series Indian Mathematics: Redressing the balance). Fascinating to think about.

Actually, that pun doesn't look so bad, on a second glance.