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Some historians of mathematics have deplored these aspects of the Indian tradition, seeing in them merely a habit of rote memorization and an inability to distinguish between true and false results.
In fact, explanations and demonstrations were frequently added by later commentators, but these were sometimes described as “for the slow-witted.” For the traditional Indian teacher of mathematics, a demonstration was perhaps not so much a solid foundation for the student’s understanding as a crutch for the weak student’s lack of understanding.
The people who left these traces of their thinking about numbers were members of the Brahman class, priestly functionaries employed in the preparation and celebration of the various ritual sacrifices.
The richest evidence of their mathematical activity is found in the several 1st-millennium-s (“Cord-Rules”), collections of brief prose sentences prescribing techniques for constructing the brick fire altars where the sacrifices were to be carried out.
But instead of altar constructions for animal sacrifices, which Buddhist and Jain principles rejected, mathematics supplied a framework for cosmological and philosophical schemes.
Some of these techniques, such as the use of sexagesimal units and employing linear “zigzag” functions to represent seasonal changes in the duration of daylight, seem to have been inspired by Mesopotamian sources that reached northwest India via the Achaemenian dynasty.The Indian concept of (Sanskrit: “computation”) was a form of knowledge whose mastery implied varied talents: a good memory, swift and accurate mental arithmetic, enough logical power to understand rules without requiring minute explanations, and a sort of numerical intuition that aided in the construction of new methods and approximations.This article covers the history of mathematics in the Indian subcontinent from ancient times through the beginning of the colonization of the region by Great Britain.(The oldest surviving Veda manuscript dates from the 16th century.) For example, an invocation in the Yajurveda (“Veda of Sacrifice”) includes names for successive powers of 10 up to about 10; “Vedic Exegesis of a Hundred Paths”) there is an interesting sequence of divisions of 720 bricks into groups of successively smaller quantities, with the explicit exclusion of all divisors that are multiples of numbers which are relatively prime to 60 (i.e., their only common divisor is 1).This is reminiscent of the structure of ancient Babylonian sexagesimal division tables and may indicate (as do some later astronomical texts) the influence of the base-60 mathematics of Mesopotamia.
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However, inscriptions on monuments and deed plates reveal that early Indian numeral systems (e.g., the Brahmi numerals; ) were not place-valued; rather, they used different symbols for the same multiple of different powers of 10.