Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Brahmagupta - Indian mathematician and astronomer

Brahmagupta (598–668 AD) was an Indian mathematician and astronomer who wrote many important works on mathematics and astronomy. His best known work is the Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta (Correctly Established Doctrine of Brahma), written in 628 in Bhinmal. Its 25 chapters contain several unprecedented mathematical results.
Life and work
Brahmagupta is believed to have been born in 598 AD in Bhinmal city in the state of Rajasthan of Northwest India. In ancient times Bhillamala was the seat of power of the Gurjars. His father was Jisnugupta. He likely lived most of his life in Bhillamala (modern Bhinmal in Rajasthan) during the reign (and possibly under the patronage) of King Vyaghramukha. As a result, Brahmagupta is often referred to as Bhillamalacarya, that is, the teacher from Bhillamala. He was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain, and during his tenure there wrote four texts on mathematics and astronomy: the Cadamekela in 624, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta in 628, the Khandakhadyaka in 665, and the Durkeamynarda in 672. The Brahmasphutasiddhanta (Corrected Treatise of Brahma) is arguably his most famous work. The historian al-Biruni (c. 1050) in his book Tariq al-Hind states that the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun had an embassy in India and from India a book was brought to Baghdad which was translated into Arabic as Sindhind. It is generally presumed that Sindhind is none other than Brahmagupta's Brahmasphuta-siddhanta.

Although Brahmagupta was familiar with the works of astronomers following the tradition of Aryabhatiya, it is not known if he was familiar with the work of Bhaskara I, a contemporary.Brahmagupta had a plethora of criticism directed towards the work of rival astronomers, and in his Brahmasphutasiddhanta is found one of the earliest attested schisms among Indian mathematicians. The division was primarily about the application of mathematics to the physical world, rather than about the mathematics itself. In Brahmagupta's case, the disagreements stemmed largely from the choice of astronomical parameters and theories.Critiques of rival theories appear throughout the first ten astronomical chapters and the eleventh chapter is entirely devoted to criticism of these theories, although no criticisms appear in the twelfth and eighteenth chapters.

Work In Astronomy

It was through the Brahmasphutasiddhanta that the Arabs learned of Indian astronomy.[20] Edward Saxhau stated that "Brahmagupta, it was he who taught Arabs astronomy", [21] The famousAbbasid caliph Al-Mansur (712–775) founded Baghdad, which is situated on the banks of the Tigris, and made it a center of learning.                   In chapter seven of his Brahmasphutasiddhanta, entitled Lunar Crescent, Brahmagupta rebuts the idea that the Moon is farther from the Earth than the Sun, an idea which is maintained in scriptures. 

He explains that since the Moon is closer to the Earth than the Sun, the degree of the illuminated part of the Moon depends on the relative positions of the Sun and the Moon, and this can be computed from the size of the angle between the two bodies.
Some of the important contributions made by Brahmagupta in astronomy are: methods for calculating the position of heavenly bodies over time (ephemerides), their rising and setting,conjunctions, and the calculation of solar and lunar eclipses.[24] Brahmagupta criticized the Puranic view that the Earth was flat or hollow. Instead, he observed that the Earth and heaven were spherical and that the Earth is moving. In 1030, the Muslim astronomer Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni, in his Ta'rikh al-Hind, later translated into Latin as Indica, commented on Brahmagupta's work and wrote that critics argued:
"If such were the case, stones would and trees would fall from the earth."[25]
According to al-Biruni, Brahmagupta responded to these criticisms with the following argument on gravitation:
"On the contrary, if that were the case, the earth would not vie in keeping an even and uniform pace with the minutes of heaven, the pranas of the times. [...] All heavy things are attracted towards the center of the earth. [...] The earth on all its sides is the same; all people on earth stand upright, and all heavy things fall down to the earth by a law of nature, for it is the nature of the earth to attract and to keep things, as it is the nature of water to flow, that of fire to burn, and that of wind to set in motion… The earth is the only low thing, and seeds always return to it, in whatever direction you may throw them away, and never rise upwards from the earth."[26]
About the Earth's gravity he said: "Bodies fall towards the earth as it is in the nature of the earth to attract bodies, just as it is in the nature of water to flow.


Brahmagupta was the first to use zero as a number. He gave rules to compute with zero. Brahmagupta used negative numbers and zero for computing. The modern rule that two negative numbers multiplied together equals a positive number first appears in Brahmasputa siddhanta. It is composed in elliptic verse, as was common practice in Indian mathematics, and consequently has a poetic ring to it. As no proofs are given, it is not known how Brahmagupta's mathematics was derived.
His work varied from Algebra, Arithmatic, Diophantine analysis, Geometry, Trigonometry,a etc.

Source: WIKI

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