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The Indian number system

Akkangalude Charithram deals with the origin, science and magic of the decimal number system that originated in India  

French Scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace once said “The importance of Indian number system is that it gave humans the ability to add and subtract. This reason added weight to the fact that it was the most useful discovery by mankind.”

But many Indians remain unaware that the decimal number system was discovered in their country, a fact, which is no less measure drove Dr. Thomas George towards authoring the book “ Akkangalude Charithram (History of Numbers).

While growing up, George like most children of his age in Kozenjeri a small town in Pattanamthitta , used to religiously repeat the multiplication table after his teacher. But back then he didn’t have that magnetic attraction towards numbers.

It was only after he joined engineering that he got sucked into the science behind numbers, which keeps him captivated to this day.

Akkangalude Charithram deals with everything about numbers; the science and history of digits, ancient culture and tradition which led to the discovery of the number system, and how the political, social and scientific fabric steered India towards the magic world of numbers.

The book describes at length the basic history, evolution and exceptionality of the decimal number system, regarded as the greatest contribution of Indians to modern-day mathematics. The three basic components, which form the backbone of the number system are also explained.

Dr. Paulose Jacob, Pro-vice chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology released the book in Kochi on December.

“This book was possible because of my eagerness to tell the world about our greatest contribution to modern-day science, which continues to be learned and taught across the globe even 1500 years after its discovery,” said the author.

Written after three years of painstaking research, the book explores the origins of the decimal number system and how an innovation of such magnitude happened during 500AD.

The alphabetical number system discovered by Arayabhatta and various other topics is also discussed in detail.

“This book which shows the history, science and uniqueness of the Indian number system can help instil in students a love for Mathematics. The sad part is, many Indians are still unaware that the decimal system originated around their homeland,” said Paulose Jacob.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Kavumbayi Balakrishnan, publication committee convener of the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishat, said, the book, written in a very simple language, could be of great help to the students.

“At a time when knowledge streams like science is loosing its sheen, books like History of Numbers have a great role to play,” said C.J. George, Managing Director of Geogit BNP Paribas during the release.

Thomas George has also authored Karthiyani’s Hen and The Cousins From The City, a collection of short stories.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 9:41:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/The-Indian-number-system/article13997406.ece

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