Chinese Ancient Mathematics


The ancient Greeks were famous for their mathematicians and innovations made in this area. However, the rush of this development eventually started to fade, even though the country is currently considered to be the cradle of modern mathematics. At this point, the Empire of China took on the leading role in mathematics development. The blooming trade practices of the empire allowed the knowledge of its mathematical doctrines to be spread around the world.

Unfortunately, a great deal of Chinese mathematics’ achievements were lost to us due to purges by various dictators. The biggest of these occurred under the reign of Shih Huang-Ti in 213 B.C. The authorized burning of books destroyed the nation’s precious legacy and set the development of mathematics decades back. Scholars that survived the purges tried to recreate the lost knowledge from memory, but their efforts were not enough to restore the priceless books that were burned. However, even this did not interfere with the brilliance of Chinese mathematicians.

These scholars continued to practice their art and develop more complex formulas to manage the numerous accounts that were established with the growth of trade. By the 13th century, their genius progressed so far as to create a method of effective approximations. Something similar was developed by Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century. This difference in time alone proves how advanced Chinese mathematicians had become over the years, even despite the fact that its development was repressed by inept politicians.

The name of the mathematician that devised the aforementioned revolutionary method of solving equations was Qin Jiushao. He was an imperial administrator famous for being ill-tempered, violent, and corrupt; these are not qualities one would associate with an outstanding scholar. It is essential to understand Qin Jiushao’s position in that society in order to know how mathematics developed in the Chinese Empire. Progress in this field did not move forward by scholars who did nothing but live reclusively in existing schools and teach their art to the younger generations.

Chinese mathematicians were thus born due to the empire’s need for competent administrators. They were civil servants who had to be extremely active due to the numerous duties they had to perform and a multitude of challenges they faced every day. This is why Chinese mathematics was always closely linked to administration, wages distribution, and management. This allowed people to focus on finding solutions to practical problems, instead of contemplating the mystical depths and various possibilities presented by numbers.

Ancient Chinese mathematics is not well-known today and it does not get its deserved credit. This is a true loss, because if communication between the Western and Eastern world had been better established in the past, numerous mathematical discoveries could have occurred much sooner.

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