Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

Mathematics, Early

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_1270

In the prehistory, before there were writing systems, we have archaeological evidence of representations of geometrical figures and of instruments used to make numerical calculations (Katz 1998). Before Greek civilization (D’Ambrosio and Selin 2001), there was an intuitive knowledge of mathematical relations and theorems which was first proved by the Greeks (Boyer 1991).

Infinite in Mathematics and in Religion

Apart from the mythical use of finite numbers in Egypt, Babylon, India, and other pre-Greek cultures (Katz 2007), the infinite is one of the first concepts relating mathematics and religion (Plotker 2009). The Yajur Veda, one of the four canonical texts of Hinduism, uses the concept purna and states that if we subtract purna from purna what remains is again purna.

The use of the concept purnain the Yajur Veda can be interpreted both religiously and mathematically. The word “infinite” is used in three different contexts, as a mathematical sign, as a sign representing a quality...

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References

  1. Boyer, C. B. (1991). History of mathematics (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. D’Ambrosio, U., & Selin, H. (Eds.). (2001). Mathematics across cultures: The history of non-western mathematics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  3. Gardiner, A. (2002). Understanding infinity: The mathematics of infinite processes. Mineola: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Katz, V. J. (1998). A history of mathematics: An introduction (2nd ed.). Reading: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  5. Katz, V. J. (2007). Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Morris, K. (1990). Mathematical thought from ancient to modern times. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Plotker, K. (2009). Mathematics in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Informática, Departamento de Sistemas Informáticos y ProgramaciónComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain