The most fundamental contribution of ancient India in mathematics is the invention of decimal system of enumeration, including the invention of zero. The decimal system uses nine digits (1 to 9) and the symbol zero (for nothing) to denote all natural numbers by assigning a place value to the digits. The Arabs carried this system to Africa and Europe.

The *Vedas* and *Valmiki Ramayana* used this system, though the
exact dates of these works are not known. MohanjoDaro and Harappa excavations
(which may be around 3000 B.C. old) also give specimens of writing in India.
Aryans came 1000 years later, around 2000 B.C. Being very religious people, they
were deeply interested in planetary positions to calculate auspicious times, and
they developed astronomy and mathematics towards this end. They identified
various *nakshatras* (constellations) and named the months after them. They
could count up to 10^{12}, while the Greeks could count up to 10^{4}
and Romans up to 10^{8}. Values of irrational numbers such as
and
were also known to them to a high degree of approximation. Pythagoras Theorem
can be also traced to the Aryan's *Sulbasutra*s. These Sutras, estimated to
be between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C., cover a large number of geometric principles.
Jaina religious works (dating from 500 B.C. to 100 B.C.) show they knew how to
solve quadratic equations (though ancient Chinese and Babylonians also knew this
prior to 2000 B.C.). Jainas used
as the value of
(circumference =
x Diameter). They were very fond of large numbers, and they classified numbers
as enumerable, unenumerable and infinite. The Jainas also worked out formulae
for permutations and combinations though this knowledge may have existed in
Vedic times. *Sushruta Samhita* (famous medicinal work, around 6th century
B.C.) mentions that 63 combinations can be made out of 6 different* rasas*
(tastes -bitter, sour, sweet, salty, astringent and hot).

In the year 1881 A.D., at a village named Bakhshali near Peshawar, a farmer
found a manuscript during excavation. About 70 leaves were found, and are now
famous as the **Bakhshali Manuscript.** Western scholars estimate its date as
about third or fourth century A.D. It is devoted mostly to arithmetic and
algebra, with a few problems on geometry and mensuration.

*With this historical background, we come to the famous Indian
mathematicians.*

**Aryabhata** (475 A.D. -550 A.D.) is the first well known Indian
mathematician. Born in Kerala, he completed his studies at the university of
Nalanda. In the section *Ganita* (calculations) of his astronomical
treatise * Aryabhatiya (499 A.D.)*, he made the fundamental advance
in finding the lengths of chords of circles, by using the half chord rather than
the full chord method used by Greeks. He gave the value of
as 3.1416, claiming, for the first time, that it was an approximation. (He gave
it in the form that the approximate circumference of a circle of diameter 20000
is 62832.) He also gave methods for extracting square roots, summing arithmetic
series, solving indeterminate equations of the type

**Brahmagupta** (598 A.D. -665 A.D.) is renowned for introduction of
negative numbers and operations on zero into arithmetic. His main work was *
Brahmasphutasiddhanta*, which was a corrected version of old astronomical
treatise *Brahmasiddhanta*. This work was later translated into Arabic as
*Sind Hind*. He formulated the rule of three and proposed rules for the
solution of quadratic and simultaneous equations. He gave the formula for the
area of a cyclic quadrilateral as
where *s* is the semi perimeter. He was the first mathematician to treat
algebra and arithmetic as two different branches of mathematics. He gave the
solution of the indeterminate equation Nx²+1 = y². He is also the founder of the
branch of higher mathematics known as "Numerical Analysis".

After Brahmagupta, the mathematician of some consequence was **Sridhara**,
who wrote *Patiganita Sara*, a book on algebra, in 750 A.D. Even Bhaskara
refers to his works. After Sridhara, the most celebrated mathematician was
Mahaviracharaya or **Mahavira.** He wrote *Ganita Sara Sangraha* in 850
A.D., which is the first text book on arithmetic in present day form. He is the
only Indian mathematician who has briefly referred to the ellipse (which he
called *Ayatvrit*). The Greeks, by contrast, had studied conic sections in
great detail.

**Bhaskara** (1114 A.D. -1185 A.D.) or Bhaskaracharaya is the most well
known ancient Indian mathematician. He was born in 1114 A.D. at Bijjada Bida
(Bijapur, Karnataka) in the Sahyadari Hills. He was the first to declare that
any number divided by zero is infinity and that the sum of any number and
infinity is also infinity. He is famous for his book *Siddhanta Siromani*
(1150 A.D.). It is divided into four sections -*Leelavati* (a book on
arithmetic), *Bijaganita* (algebra), *Goladhayaya* (chapter on sphere
-celestial globe), and *Grahaganita* (mathematics of the planets). *
Leelavati* contains many interesting problems and was a very popular text
book. Bhaskara introduced *chakrawal*, or the cyclic method, to solve
algebraic equations. Six centuries later, European mathematicians like Galois,
Euler and Lagrange rediscovered this method and called it "inverse cyclic".
Bhaskara can also be called the founder of differential calculus. He gave an
example of what is now called "differential coefficient" and the basic idea of
what is now called "Rolle's theorem". Unfortunately, later Indian mathematicians
did not take any notice of this. Five centuries later, Newton and Leibniz
developed this subject. As an astronomer, Bhaskara is renowned for his concept
of *Tatkalikagati* (instantaneous motion).

After this period, India was repeatedly raided by muslims and other rulers
and there was a lull in scientific research. Industrial revolution and
Renaissance passed India by. Before Ramanujan, the only noteworthy mathematician
was **Sawai Jai Singh II**, who founded the present city of Jaipur in 1727
A.D. This Hindu king was a great patron of mathematicians and astronomers. He is
known for building observatories (** Jantar Mantar**) at Delhi, Jaipur,
Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura. Among the instruments he designed himself are

*Well known Indian mathematicians of 20 ^{th} century are:*

**Srinivasa Aaiyangar Ramanujan** is undoubtedly the most celebrated
Indian Mathematical genius. He was born in a poor family at Erode in Tamil Nadu
on December 22, 1887. Largely self taught, he feasted on *Loney's Trigonometry*
at the age of 13, and at the age of 15, his senior friends gave him *Synopsis
of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics* by George Carr. He
used to write his ideas and results on loose sheets. His three filled notebooks
are now famous as *Ramanujan's Frayed Notebooks*. Though he had no
qualifying degree, the University of Madras granted him a monthly scholarship of
Rs. 75 in 1913. A few months earlier, he had sent a letter to great
mathematician G.H. Hardy, in which he mentioned 120 theorems and formulae. Hardy
and his colleague at Cambridge University, J.E. Littlewood immediately
recognised his genius. Ramanujan sailed for Britain on March 17, 1914. Between
1914 and 1917, Ramanujan published 21 papers, some in collaboration with Hardy.
His achievements include Hardy-Ramanujan-Littlewood circle method in number
theory, Roger-Ramanujan's identities in partition of numbers, work on algebra of
inequalities, elliptic functions, continued fractions, partial sums and products
of hypergeometric series, etc. He was the second Indian to be elected Fellow of
the Royal Society in February, 1918. Later that year, he became the first Indian
to be elected Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Ramanujan had an intimate
familiarity with numbers. During an illness in England, Hardy visited Ramanujan
in the hospital. When Hardy remarked that he had taken taxi number 1729, a
singularly unexceptional number, Ramanujan immediately responded that this
number was actually quite remarkable: it is the smallest integer that can be
represented in two ways by the sum of two cubes: 1729=1³+12³=9³+10³.

Unfortunately, Ramanujan's health deteriorated due to tuberculosis, and he
returnted to India in 1919. He died in Madras on April 26, 1920.

**P.C. Mahalanobis** : He founded the Indian Statistical Research
Institute in Calcutta. In 1958, he started the National Sample Surveys which
gained international fame. He died in 1972 at the age of 79.

**C.R. Rao** : A well known statistician, famous for his "theory of
estimation"(1945). His formulae and theory include "Cramer -Rao inequality",
"Fischer -Rao theorem" and "Rao - Blackwellisation".

**D.R. Kaprekar** (1905-1988) : Fond of numbers. Well known for "*Kaprekar
Constant*" 6174. Take any four digit number in which all digits are not
alike. Arrange its digits in descending order and subtract from it the number
formed by arranging the digits in ascending order. If this process is repeated
with reminders, ultimately number 6174 is obtained, which then generates itself.

**Harish Chandra** (1923-1983) : Greatly developed the branch of higher
mathematics known as the infinite dimensional group representation theory.

**Narendra Karmarkar** : India born Narendra Karmarkar, working at Bell
Labs USA, stunned the world in 1984 with his new algorithm to solve linear
programming problems. This made the complex calculations much faster, and had
immediate applications in airports, warehouses, communication networks etc.