Wheels and Thunderbolts: Second-Order Indeterminate Equations in Medieval Indian Mathematics
April 3, 2012
Bailey Hall 207
Refreshments will be served in Bailey Hall 204 at 3:45
Finding solutions for a single equation in two unknowns (for example, values of $x$ and $y$ that satisfy $x^2 - y^2 = 1)$ is part of the mathematical field known as indeterminate analysis, where there are many possible solutions to a given problem. This was a popular subject in classical mathematics, later re-visited and expanded starting in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. In the meantime, though, mathematicians in medieval India took up these problems and developed a number of ingenious solution strategies for them. We'll explore how these problems and solutions evolved and what they tell us about the mathematical thinking of their day.
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