Algebra-The Other Mathematics That Originated In India


It should not come as surprise that the first recorded use of the number zero, happened in India. Besides giving the concept of zero, Indian Mathematicians made many more contributions to the study of trigonometry, algebra, arithmetic and negative numbers. In fact, the decimal system that we still use worldwide today was first seen in India.

It is well attested that Indian numerals and arithmetic were adopted first by the Islamic civilization following exchanges between the two cultures around the 8th century and later by Europe. Indian algebra was also developed by this time as seen in the seventh century work of Brahmagupta.

The word that Brahmagupta used for algebra is kuttakaganita or “computation using kuttaka.” Kuttaka (frequently translated as “pulverizer”) is an algorithm for reducing the terms of an indeterminate equation, which is essentially a recasting of the Euclidean algorithm for obtaining the greatest common divisor of two natural numbers.Interestingly, puzzles called kuttaka are found even now in folklore in India and require one to find positive integer solutions of indeterminate equations.

Mathematicians which came after Brahmagupta referred to algebra as avyakta ganita or arithmetic of unknown quantities, as opposed to vyakta ganita (arithmetic of known quantities). Others, starting from around the 9th century, have used the word bijaganita for algebra. Bija means “seed” or “element,” and bijaganita has been translated as “computation with the seed or unknown quantity, which yields the fruit or phala, the known quantity.

Evolving through various stages , algebra has now come to play a key role in modern mathematics both as an indispensable tool in other branches of mathematics. Algebra provides elegance, simplicity, precision, clarity and technical power in the hands of the mathematicians. It is remarkable that we Indians had quite early realized the significance of algebra.

It is a pleasant fact that India is always known for its remarkable researches and discoveries in different fields of education. Mathematic is one of the most recognized branch of these researches.

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