The book details aspects of the subject that have been largely passed over in the past, including the relationships between Indian mathematics and astronomy, and their cross-fertilizations with Islamic scientific traditions.
Far more than in other areas of the history of mathematics, the literature on Indian mathematics reveals huge discrepancies between what researchers generally agree on and what general readers pick up from popular ideas. Supplementing the main narrative are biographical resources for dozens of Indian mathematicians; a guide to key features of Sanskrit for the non-Indologist; and illustrations of manuscripts, inscriptions, and artifacts. For anyone acquainted with the scholarly literature on these disputes, it is refreshing to read a discussion of them that keeps to the evidence, is frank about the evidence's limitations, and eschews charges of personal incompetence or bias.
Kim Plofker's book fulfils an important need in a world where mathematical historiography has been shaped by the dominance of the Greco-Christian view and the Enlightenment period.
Anyone delving into this book, general reader or historian, will find straightforward explanations of the mathematics involved, learn of the culture that surrounded the subject, and come away with a clearer understanding of the Indian civilization and its mathematics. It is a great contribution to the history of mathematics in general. Thrivikraman, Mathematical Reviews. There is a good balance of commentary and technical detail.
Plofker's book finally offers us, at least in outline, an up-to-date and coherent narrative for the history of mathematics in India. Plofker's attempt to situate Indian mathematics in the proper context [leads] to a very detailed treatment of mathematical astronomy at times far more detailed than mathematics itself , but that is no drawback, for the book serves as an excellent introduction to mathematical astronomy as well. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service. Choose your reason below and click on the Report button.
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