Shedding light on diverse cultures of mathematical practices in South Asia: Early Sanskrit mathematical texts in conversation with modern elementary Tamil mathematical curricula (in dialogue with Senthil Babu)

Agathe Keller


Discourses promoting alternative sciences—that is, traditional “scientific” systems as opposed to modern “Western” science—are part of a wider reflection in South Asia on how to shape the future. History of science, then, is a very politicized affair. We will describe how two contrasting practices of numbers, measures and computations can be documented in South India as they appear in early Sanskrit mathematical treatises and commentaries (seventh–twelfth centuries) and also in elementary mathematical curricula in Tamil (seventeenth–twentieth centuries). We will question whether they should be described as two different mathematical ontologies.


India , computation , measuring , approximations , areas , gold , politicized history of science

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/703886