Number system was evolved in ancient India, says IIT Professor

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Number system was evolved in ancient India, says IIT Professor

Thursday, 28 October 2021 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR

Though colonial rulers gave an impression that the Indian civilisation lacked in scientific development, the truth is the number and decimal place value system, on which the entire modern scientific development is based, is completely an Indian contribution, according to an expert.

 “Due to the effect of colonisation of Indian subcontinent in the 18th and 19th centuries, an impression was created that the Indian civilisation lacked in scientific development, more so in mathematical sciences. But since the late 19th century, many Indian and other researchers have found this impression to be wrong,” Prof Somesh Kumar, Professor of Mathematics at IIT, Kharagpur, said. Attempts to discover knowledge stored in inscriptions, stone carvings, plaques, stamps, seals, charters, tablets and manuscripts including palm leaf manuscripts in different parts of the country have thrown light on the contributions made by Indian scientists, astronomers, physicians, poets and playwrights, he said while delivering the SOA Fortnightly Academic Lecture on Saturday last. Speaking virtually on the subject ‘Evolution of Modern Number System: India’s Gift to the World’, Prof Kumar said the interesting discovery was that “the number system, decimal place value system on which the entire modern scientific development is based was completely an Indian contribution”.

Prof Kumar presented historic evidence through European and Arabic writings in relation to discovery of notations for ten numbers in all Indian regions which firmly established that modern numbers evolved in India and it was the country’s unique gift to the world.

“This can be placed as an equivalent to the discovery of fire and wheel in the evolution of human race. Further, through Sanskrit texts, it is established that decimal place value system referred to unique numbers,” he said.

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