| Kolams - Complex Mathematics of Common Folk|
Kolam (a.k.a. Rangoli, Alpana, Hase and by other names) is an
ephemeral art form in India practiced by women in devotion to
The longer the women practice the Kolam, the more sophisticated patterns they can master, create and execute. One cannot but admire
the geometrical and analytical skills of these women, many of whom
are not educated at all.
Dr. Marcia Ascher
explores the mathematical ideas in the tradition of Kolam
in this month's issue of the American Scientist.
Indians and Mathematics
I do not know why, but Indians have a natural appetite for mathematics. The Indians invented the
concept of the zero, the decimal number system (called
Indo-Arabic system), algebra, the game of chess etc.,
I continue to be amazed by how many people in India
take up mathematics over other fields of education.
When I was in high school (11th and 12th grades), many people in my
class knew the logarithmic tables by heart! (Log tables reduce the
complex multiplications and divisions to simple additions and subtractions,
so with the help of pencil and paper you can compute anything).
My uncle Tulasidas Kamat, is
gifted with amazing arithmetic abilities. He is the checkout
counter in our busy cloth shop in Honavar, and has never
needed a calculator even when the number of items run into
hundreds. He is never wrong! Customers and family members
who don't trust his computations often list out the items
only to find out that he's right to the last decimal.
In the Indian bazars you will see illiterate merchants
perform multiplications, compute compound interests
with no tools whatsoever (they cannot read or write).
How do they do it?
Meanwhile, Call for Action on Terrorist Front...
BBC: India Considering Attack
India better act fast before the thugs from Afghanistan infiltrate the borders as suggested in some media. Pakistan really cannot do anything at this time.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Monday, December 17, 2001|
Last Modified: 1/26/2003