Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Once upon a Prime . . .

      British Mathematician Sarah B. Hart is receiving wide-spread publicity and praise in recent days for the publication of her book Once Upon a Prime:  The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature (Flatiron Books:  New York, 2023).  (Here is a link to an enthusiastic review in The New York Times by Jordan Ellenberg.)   

     My copy of Hart's book arrived last week and I have been enjoying not only the information but the point of view.  Hart's opening chapter is "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe:  The Patterns of Poetry" and, for those of you who don't have the book yet, an excerpt from opening pages of the chapter is included here in an article in Literary Hub.

     One of the writers that Hart mentions in her poetry chapter is the Indian mathematician and poet Bhaskara (1114 - 1185 AD) -- and she tells of his mathematical verse written for his daughter Lilavati; she was to learn her math through poetry.  Here (from Kerala technologist Bineesh Thomas) is a sample of Bhaskara's math-teaching verse:

     O! you auspicious girl with enchanting eyes of a fawn, Lilavati,
     If you have well understood the above methods of multiplication
     What is the product of 135 and 12?
     Also, tell me what number will you obtain when the product
             is divided by 12.

Poetry by Bhaskara has been included earlier in this blog at these links.
And here is a link to still more math-teaching poetry by Bhaskara.   
AND, here's a link to another excerpt 
(about OULIPO, from Chapter 3) from Once Upon a Prime.

No comments:

Post a Comment