Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Colorful mathematics for your smartphone

     "Bhaskara II (1114-1185) was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. He composed the Siddhanta Siromani, a treatise in four parts -- Lilavati (basics), Bijaganita (algebra), Grahaganita (planetary motion) and Goladhyaya (spheres)."
     This quotation comes from an early page of a new (2015) graphic e-book entitled The Illustrated Lilavati -- the text is based on a 1816 John Taylor translation, edited and illustrated for lilboox by Somdip Datta and available for download on smartphones and other devices.  Lilavati (named for the daughter of Bhaskara) was written in 1150 and was a standard textbook for arithmetic in India for many years.
     This e-book contains 25 illustrated problems (and solutions); here is the first:

       One fifth
       of a hive of bees
       flew to the
       Kadamba flower;
       one third flew
       to the Silandhara;

       three times the difference of these
       flew to an arbour;

       and one bee continued flying
       about, attracted on each side by
       the fragrant Ketaki and the Malati.

       What was the number of bees?

I learned about The Illustrated Lilavati in this article in The Indian Express and the description of it therein includes " . . . with crisp and colorful images, and many insights to the history of Indian mathematics, like the Indian method of multiplication on a dust-board, meters of Sanskrit poetry and the purity of gold."  The article in The Indian Express includes a poem sample different from the one above.  Still another poem from Bhaskara's Lilavati (this one translated by Sarah Glaz) is available here.

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