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Who Invented Math and When
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    Who Invented Math and When?

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    Who Invented Math and When
    Moonpreneur

    Moonpreneur

    Advanced Math

    Update: This article was last updated on 10th July 2023 to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.

    Many students have a complicated relationship with mathematics. Some enjoy solving complex problems, while others struggle with its concepts and applications. However, for the majority, it can be intimidating and challenging. 

    Getting good grades in mathematics feels like climbing the steepest mountain without safety gear. One wrong turn and you’d never reach the destination. With so many complexities involved, it’s only fair to wish that someone hadn’t invented mathematics in the first place, right?

    But was it invented by one person?

    Contrary to popular belief, math was discovered and not invented. It has been around since the dawn of civilization when people used tally marks to keep track of numbers. 

    Numerous mathematicians made significant contributions across various regions around the world, leading to the collective development of mathematics. Hence, we cannot attribute the invention of mathematics to any single individual. Nevertheless, Archimedes holds the title of “Father of Mathematics” due to his profound impact and notable achievements in the field.

    Today, It has become an integral part of our everyday lives, helping us to calculate, think critically, and solve problems.

    So where did it all begin? What have been the contributions so far? 

    The ancient Sumerians, known for establishing one of the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia, left behind evidence of their advanced mathematical knowledge. Dating back to 3000 BC, they developed a sophisticated metrology system, showcasing their prowess in measurement and numerical calculations. Their contributions to written mathematics laid the foundation for future mathematical advancements and the development of mathematical methods worldwide. The Sumerians’ mathematical achievements testify to their intellectual capabilities and invaluable contributions to mathematics.

    History of Mathematics

    Let’s break down the discovery of mathematical inventions in simple steps that you can easily learn, absorb, and flaunt.

    Breakdown of the history of mathematical inventions:

    1. Ancient Mathematical Systems

    Ancient mathematics was used to solve various problems before the advent of modern mathematics. Ancient mathematicians developed several systems to make calculations easier. Here is a glimpse of famous discoveries:

    • The Egyptian Mathematics: Egyptian mathematical hieratic system was used to simplify calculations by using symbols to represent numbers and to measure and calculate land, taxes, and other goods. The Egyptian zero, dating back at least four thousand years, fulfilled the roles of representing a magnitude or serving as a separator for directions, if it was regarded purely in that context.
    • Babylonian Mathematics: Babylonian mathematics was based on the sexagesimal system i.e. they used the number 60 to count and measure time, computational mathematics, and astronomy. Before the first recorded instance of the Indian zero, the Babylonian positional number system featured a zero that served as a mere place-holder symbol. The system also allows Babylonians to perform complex calculations, including multiplication, division, and square roots. 
    • Chinese Mathematics: The Chinese decimal system was developed around the same time as the Egyptian System, but their system was much more advanced. They made significant contributions to algebra, trigonometry, and geometry. They also developed the concept of negative numbers. Centuries prior to the Common Era, the field of Chinese mathematics embraced the representation of zero within a well-established positional number system, where it was denoted simply by an empty space.
    • Mayan Mathematics: Mayans were skilled in arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. They developed a base-20 system but are widely known for their calendar system based on mathematical calculations. The calendar system made predictions about the movement of celestial bodies.

    Though in a modified form, these ancient systems are still in use today.

    2. Greek Mathematics

    Greek mathematics can be traced back to the 6th century BC and has had an immense influence on the development of mathematics as a whole. The Greeks developed a sophisticated mathematical system that included geometry, arithmetic, and algebra. They also developed the concept of irrational numbers. 

    Thales of Miletus, Pythagoras, and Euclid are among the most well-known ancient Greek mathematicians, each making major contributions to the field. Thales of Miletus is credited with introducing the concept of mathematical proof and is remembered for discovering the famous Thales theorem. 

    Pythagoras developed the Pythagorean theorem, a cornerstone of geometry, and Euclid is credited with writing the famed Elements, which served as the basis of geometry for centuries. 

    3. Indian Mathematics

    Some of the earliest recorded mathematical ideas can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent around 2500 BCE.

    One of the most important developments in Indian mathematics was the invention of the decimal system and the concept of zero, which allowed for more advanced mathematical calculations. This system, now used worldwide, was first developed by Aryabhatta in 500 CE. He is also credited with developing the concept of place value. The westward spread of the Indian zero as a fundamental component of Indian numerals stands as a truly remarkable chapter in the annals of mathematics, and its tale is widely familiar.

    Other notable mathematicians from India include:

    • Brahmagupta developed the formula for the area of a cyclic quadrilateral and introduced the concept of negative numbers; 
    • Vedic Mathematics is the name given to a supposedly ancient system of calculation that was “rediscovered” from the Vedas between 1911 and 1918 by Sri Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaj (1884-1960).
    • Bhaskara II made important contributions to the study of algebra and calculus; and
    • Ramanujan made groundbreaking contributions to number theory and infinite series.

    4. Middle Eastern Mathematics

    One of the most famous mathematical works to come out of the Middle East is “Algebra” by the Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who lived in the 9th century. Al-khwarizmi’s book laid the foundation for modern algebra and introduced the concept of the algorithm, which is a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem.

    Another important figure in Middle Eastern mathematics is Omar Khayyam, a Persian mathematician, poet, and philosopher who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries. Khayyam is best known for his study of cubic equations.

    Islamic mathematics also contributed greatly to the development of trigonometry, which was used extensively in astronomy and navigation. The Persian astronomer Al-Biruni, for example, wrote extensively on the subject of trigonometry, including the first known table of sines.

    5. Discoveries in the Modern Mathematics

    Modern mathematics is a vast and rapidly evolving field, so here are some highlights of recent discoveries and advancements:

    The Poincaré Conjecture: In 2002, Grigori Perelman proved the Poincaré Conjecture, one of the most famous unsolved problems in topology. The conjecture states that any closed, simply connected three-dimensional manifold is topologically equivalent to a three-dimensional sphere. 

    The Langlands Program: This is a set of conjectures that relate number theory and representation theory. It was first proposed by Robert Langlands in the 1960s, and since then, mathematicians have made significant progress in understanding the connections between the two fields. One of the most exciting recent developments was the proof of the Sato-Tate Conjecture, a special case of the Langlands Program.

    The ABC Conjecture: This is a major unsolved problem in number theory that has been the subject of intense research for several decades. The conjecture relates the prime factors of three integers a, b, and c, and it has important implications for other areas of mathematics. In 2019, Shinichi Mochizuki released a series of papers claiming proof of the ABC Conjecture, but the proof is still under review and has not been widely accepted.

    Machine Learning and Deep Learning: While not strictly a branch of mathematics, machine learning, and deep learning have revolutionized many fields, including mathematics. These techniques allow mathematicians to analyze vast amounts of data and discover patterns that would be difficult or impossible to detect otherwise. They have been used in areas such as graph theory, algebraic geometry, and number theory, among others.

    Some Interesting Facts on Math History

    The word “mathematics” originates from the Greek word “mathema,” which means “knowledge” or “learning.”

    1. The ancient Egyptians used a system of hieroglyphic symbols to represent numbers. They even had special symbols for fractions, and their number system was base 10.
    2. The Chinese abacus, an ancient calculating tool, dates back more than 2,000 years. It was widely used for arithmetic calculations and is still used in some parts of the world today.
    3. The concept of negative numbers was initially viewed with skepticism and considered absurd. It wasn’t until the 16th century that negative numbers were accepted as valid mathematical entities.
    4. The famous mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, known for his contributions to analytic geometry, was also an avid coffee drinker. He believed that caffeine helped him think more clearly and work longer hours.
    5. In the 17th century, a dispute known as the “Brouncker’s controversy” arose between mathematicians William Brouncker and John Wallis over the value of the mathematical constant π (pi). They both calculated approximations for π, with Wallis claiming it was infinite and Brouncker asserting that it could be expressed as a finite fraction.
    6. The concept of imaginary numbers, which involve the square root of negative numbers, was once considered absurd and met with resistance from mathematicians. However, imaginary numbers are now widely used in various branches of mathematics and physics.
    7. The ancient Greeks were fascinated by perfect numbers, which are numbers that are equal to the sum of their divisors (excluding the number itself). The first four perfect numbers known to the Greeks were 6, 28, 496, and 8128.
    8. The Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, known for his extensive contributions to various mathematical fields, was completely blind in his right eye. Despite this, he continued to produce groundbreaking work and is regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians in history.
    9. In the Thai language, the number 5 is commonly pronounced as ‘Ha.’ Consequently, the numerical sequence 555 is occasionally used as a slang expression for “Hahaha.”

    This article is just a small glimpse of the vast and varied contributions to mathematics over the centuries. From the earliest counting systems to the equations that underpin modern computing, mathematics has shaped the world we live in today.

    Recommended Reading: How To Select the Right Math Classes for Kids

    Moonpreneur understands the needs and demands this rapidly changing technological world is bringing with it for our kids. Thus we are on a mission to educate and ignite the flames of entrepreneurship through our holistically created online STEM programs, which will help kids master the futuristic sciences such as Robotics, Game Development, App Development, Advanced Math, and much more!!

    Register for a free 60-minute advanced math class today!

    Advanced Math

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    Sonal Mishra

    Sonal Mishra

    As a Content Marketing Consultant, I leverage my creative background and apply design thinking to create value-based content. Whether it's through storytelling or other means, my goal is to make a positive difference.
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    9 Comments
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    Sebastian Gil Rojas
    Sebastian Gil Rojas
    1 year ago

    In what month and day was exactly math created

    Teresa
    Teresa
    1 year ago

    What evidence does there have to show that mathematics was first developed in many different cultures around the world?

    Vivek
    Editor
    1 year ago
    Reply to  Teresa

    The number discovery movement can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt around 3000 BC where we can find evidence of advanced knowledge of algebras, geometricals, and arithmetics. Their writings testify to a very high degree of mathematical knowledge. But they weren’t alone. Numerous civilizations, such as Maya, ancient Greek, Chinese, and Indus Valley were illuminated by this movement.

    Harold
    Harold
    1 year ago

    How do mathematics and logic intertwine and support each other?

    Vivek
    Editor
    1 year ago
    Reply to  Harold

    Logic and Mathematics are inextricably linked. Mathematics, which is the study of pattern and correlation, and logical thinking, which is the practice of logical thinking, are closely connected. Logic is the foundation of mathematics. It provides the basis for proving theorems, and solving problems. It is the shield that keeps mathematics in the ascendancy in the realm of organized thinking and problem solving, while also conquering new domains of proofs and solutions.

    Lisabeth
    Lisabeth
    1 year ago

    What are the ethical implications of using math and algorithms in different industries like tech, health care, and finance?

    Vivek
    Editor
    11 months ago
    Reply to  Lisabeth

    When using math and algorithms in finance, healthcare and technology, one must be fair, avoid prejudice and be transparent. They must address prejudice, protect personal data, be transparent and accountable and think about the overall effect on society. Having people monitor alongside technology guides toward ethics and preserves fairness and reliability!

    Albert
    Albert
    11 months ago

    Historically, which application of mathematics has been most detrimental to society?

    Willie
    Willie
    10 months ago
    Reply to  Albert

    Mathematics has been used in a number of destructive ways throughout history, such as to promote tyranny and prejudice. For example, it has been used to create concepts of racial and sexual superiority, as well as algorithms to perpetuate inequality. 

    Another example of a destructive use of mathematics is the development of military weaponry. For example, the atomic bomb was developed using mathematics, resulting in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands during World War II.

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