Maths and music make elegant equation

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There is lot of artistry in maths, says Manjul Bhargava

Manjul Bhargava

Chennai: Mathematics pervades all sciences but also lies at the heart of many other fields of humanities. Two such important subjects which go back to ancient times are linguistics and music. On the eve of IIT’s 52nd convocation of the IIT, on Thursday, Prof Manjul Bhargava, Fradd professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, USA and the Fields Medal winner for 2014, took the audience on a journey through a complete experience of the fundamental relation between mathematics, music and poetry.

He effectively explained how certain ideas and principles, which were fundamental to ancient music and poetry, particularly in Sanskrit, could be understood and rationalised only on the basis of maths.For Manjul Bhargava numbers were something that could move through the rhythms of a Sanskrit poem or the drumming sequence of a musical instrument like tabla.

Addressing a packed audience at the IIT, Bhargava spoke and demonstrated how the famous ‘Fibonacci’ series was not just visible in the field of maths but also in the field of arts, that were music and poetry. “They were known in India before Fibonacci as the Hemachandra numbers,” he said.  It was known that the Fibonacci series was visible in nature in many forms, however Bhargava also elucidated how it was a part of Sanksrit poetry and compositions of the tabla.

He also explained how ancient Indian scholars discovered Pascal’s triangle and the Fibonacci numbers amongst the rhythms of poetry. An accomplished musician himself, Bhargava played tabla under Zakir Hussain. Mathematics and art go hand in hand.  Music was a beautiful way to teach maths.