DR. T. V. PADMA

The Arabic mathematician Thabit provided a formula for deriving pairs of amicable numbers.

Did you know that numbers could be amicable? Amicable numbers are pairs of natural numbers which are each equal to the sum of the proper divisors of the number (all the divisors of the number other than itself). For example, 220 and 284 are amicable, because the proper divisors of 220 are 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 22, 44, 55, and 110, which add up to give 284; and 284’s proper divisors are 1,2, 4, 71, and 142, which when summed produce 220.

The Arabic mathematician Thabit provided a formula for deriving pairs of amicable numbers. Thabit was also among the foremost Arabic mathematicians to recognise the importance of geometric interpretations of algebraic problems. He also provided a generalisation to the so-called Pythogorean theorem (the knowledge of which pre-dated Pythogoras in India and other ancient civilizations). His generalisation could be applied to all triangles and not merely right-angled triangles.

Synthesis

By synthesizing approaches developed in Greece, India, China and Babylon, Arab mathematicians helped to knit together predominantly arithmetic, algebraic and geometric traditions, to create a strong, intertwined rope that could serve as the foundation for future generations of mathematicians. In doing so, to quote the modern mathematical scholar and math-historian Dr. George Joseph, author of The Crest of the Peacock, the Arabs helped to destroy “the straitjacket of Greek mathematical tradition”. As David Teresi, author of Lost Discoveries argues, their stunning record of original accomplishments are testament to the fact that Arab mathematicians were far more than mere ‘Islamic Xerox machines.’”