Indians learnt maths from Greeks, Romans, Babylonians too: Amartya Sen

PTI  | Deccan Chronicle

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‘There is no shame in learning from others, and to put them in good use’

Noble laureate Amartya Sen. (Photo: AP)

Kolkata: Although Indians had the tradition of analytical thinking, Indian mathematicians also learnt from the work done in Babylon, Greece and Rome, economist Amartya Sen said on Monday.

"To be sure, there was an Indian tradition of analytical thinking. The golden age of Indian mathematics changed the face of mathematics in the world. And later, Indian mathematicians was directly inspired from the work done in Babylon, Greece and Rome," Mr Sen said at the Infosys Science Foundation in Kolkata.

The Nobel laureate said that with stellar outbursts of mathematical work in India, Indians also learnt a lot of theorems, proofs and rigorous mathematical reasoning from the Greeks, the Romans and Babylonians.

"There is no shame in learning from others, and to put them in good use and then going to create knowledge, new understanding and thrilling novel ideas and results," he said.

Giving an example, he said, in trigonometry, the concept of 'sin' was conceived by Indian mathematician Aryabhatta. But it was an Italian mathematician who gave the Latin name 'sinus' which later became 'sin'.

He said Indian research was deeply influenced by the knowledge of foreign works, and also Indian mathematics influenced mathematical work in countries like Greece, Rome and Baghdad.

The cause for admiration was not what Indian mathematics did in splendid isolation, but what it did by international and inter-regional exchange of ideas, Mr Sen said.

The Infosys Science Foundation gave away prizes in the fields of mathematical sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, humanities, social sciences and computer and engineering sciences.