Explained: How Indian Mathematicians Calculated The Value Of Pi

# Explained: How Indian Mathematicians Calculated The Value Of Pi

by Swarajya Staff - Monday, March 27, 2017 06:44 PM IST
The Mathematician Madhava arrived at the approximate value of Pi in the 14 century.
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• How were Indians so comfortable with the concept of pi before anybody else? Watch to know.

Mathematics in India has a rich history. Indian mathematicians Madhava and Aryabhata made very significant contributions in finding the exact value of π (pi).

Professor K Ramasubramanian, who teaches at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, has wonderfully explained the history of calculation of pi in India in a recent video.

Of the various infinite series representation of pi, one of the oldest is today ascribed to is Gregory and Leibniz.

“But almost three hundred years before Gregory and Leibniz's formula came to the fore, there was a series which was codified in the form of a verse by an Indian mathematician Madhava,” he says.

“If the series were to be given a name which honours the founder, then it should be called Madhava series instead of Gregory-Leibniz series,” he said.

So what was the context in which people wanted to know the value of Pi in the Indian tradition?

One of the reasons why Indians would have wanted to know the value of pi, would have been for the construction of altars for havana. According to Professor Ramasubramanian, each household was supposed to have three of them—one square, one circular, and third semi-circular one. The only condition was that the area of all the three altars be the same. This would have made it necessary for the society to be aware of the value of pi.

The other Indic mathematical genius to calculate the value of pi, upto four digits after decimal, was Aryabhata. In the the video embedded, Prof Ramasubramanian quotes and explains the exact verses of Aryabhata where he deals with the value of pi.

Video courtesy Shaale. Shaale is a platform that strives to document & reach Traditional Indian arts & literature worldwide through online courses, live webcasts, mobile apps and more.

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