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Chapter : Mixing Up Ancient and

Modern

1 Introduction: Pythagoras’ and Euclid’s Theorems.

2 Numbers and Geometry,

3 Algebraic Equations and Geometry,

4 Babylonians and Second Degree Algebraic Equations,

5 Numbers, Basis and Polynomials,

Exercises.

Chapter : Mixing Up Ancient and

Modern

1 Introduction: Pythagoras’ and Euclid’s Theorems.

2 Numbers and Geometry,

3 Algebraic Equations and Geometry,

4 Babylonians and Second Degree Algebraic Equations,

5 Numbers, Basis and Polynomials,

Exercises.

1.
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Chapter 1

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Modern

1.1 Introduction: Pythagoras’ and Euclid’s

Theorems

The Indian mathematical doctrines, as well as the Assyrian-Baby-

lonian, have an undoubted cultural charm, because they do not seem

a self-contained body, built on Axioms and Theorems (as in the Greek

tradition), but arise as one set of insights to be introduced ad hoc

in the context of specific needs. The Pythagorean Theorem, as pre-

sented in the Elements of Euclid, requires a long elaboration and is

introduced after the study of the properties of triangles, of Euclid’s

Theorems . . . The Indians conceived it in a hybrid form (horrifying

for the Greeks) but effective from a practical point of view1 .

With reference to Fig. 1.1, we note that the surface of the in-

ner square (Qin ) is linked to that of the outer square (Qout ) by the

obvious identity

Qin = Qout − 4 T (1.1.1)

where T represents the area of the triangles with edges a, b. The

1

There is an astonishing number of “independent” proofs of the Theorem.

A. Bogomolny reported 122 different demonstrations in http://www.cut-the

knot.org/pythagoras/index.shtml.

1

Chapter 1

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

Mixing Up Ancient and

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Modern

1.1 Introduction: Pythagoras’ and Euclid’s

Theorems

The Indian mathematical doctrines, as well as the Assyrian-Baby-

lonian, have an undoubted cultural charm, because they do not seem

a self-contained body, built on Axioms and Theorems (as in the Greek

tradition), but arise as one set of insights to be introduced ad hoc

in the context of specific needs. The Pythagorean Theorem, as pre-

sented in the Elements of Euclid, requires a long elaboration and is

introduced after the study of the properties of triangles, of Euclid’s

Theorems . . . The Indians conceived it in a hybrid form (horrifying

for the Greeks) but effective from a practical point of view1 .

With reference to Fig. 1.1, we note that the surface of the in-

ner square (Qin ) is linked to that of the outer square (Qout ) by the

obvious identity

Qin = Qout − 4 T (1.1.1)

where T represents the area of the triangles with edges a, b. The

1

There is an astonishing number of “independent” proofs of the Theorem.

A. Bogomolny reported 122 different demonstrations in http://www.cut-the

knot.org/pythagoras/index.shtml.

1

2.
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2 Vedic Mathematics

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Figure 1.1: An algebraic proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.

surface of the outer square is

Qout = (a + b)2 (1.1.2)

and being

ab

Qin = c2 , T = , (1.1.3)

2

it follows

2 2 ab

c = (a + b) − 4 (1.1.4)

2

thus eventually yielding the identity

c2 = a2 + b2 (1.1.5)

which once a and b are known, specifies the edge c. It represents the

Pythagorean Theorem.

An Euclidean Bourbakist2 would have good reasons to object,

because the rules of the game were not respected. We have indeed

2

Bourbakist is an adjective indicating a mathematician belonging to a school

of extreme mathematical rigor. The name Nicolas Bourbaki is the collective

pseudonym chosen by an authoritative group of French mathematicians, who in-

2 Vedic Mathematics

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Figure 1.1: An algebraic proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.

surface of the outer square is

Qout = (a + b)2 (1.1.2)

and being

ab

Qin = c2 , T = , (1.1.3)

2

it follows

2 2 ab

c = (a + b) − 4 (1.1.4)

2

thus eventually yielding the identity

c2 = a2 + b2 (1.1.5)

which once a and b are known, specifies the edge c. It represents the

Pythagorean Theorem.

An Euclidean Bourbakist2 would have good reasons to object,

because the rules of the game were not respected. We have indeed

2

Bourbakist is an adjective indicating a mathematician belonging to a school

of extreme mathematical rigor. The name Nicolas Bourbaki is the collective

pseudonym chosen by an authoritative group of French mathematicians, who in-

3.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 3

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 3

forgotten to prove that the four triangles of sides a, b are equal and

that are right angled, we have not respected the rule according to

which the use of algebra in a geometric demonstration is contrary to

the spirit of the geometrical proof itself... Despite these shortcuts,

the method is undoubtedly effective. Perhaps it was an intuition of

this type that brought Pythagoras (Assyrians and Indians as well,

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

before him) to formulate the Theorem in 6th century BC.

We could take advantage of the same procedure to deduce the

well known Euclid’s Theorems.

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Figure 1.2: Euclid Theorems.

In Fig. 1.2 we keep the height relative to the c side of one of the

triangles inside the square of the Fig. 1.1 and, denoting by p and

q = c − p, the projections of the catheti a and b (see the figure) on

the hypotenuse c we obtain

h2 + p 2 = a 2 , h2 + (c − p)2 = b2 , (1.1.6)

tended to reformulate the teaching of Mathematics on new grounds which accepts

only a well organized system of Axioms, namely the opposite of what we have

discussed so far.

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 3

forgotten to prove that the four triangles of sides a, b are equal and

that are right angled, we have not respected the rule according to

which the use of algebra in a geometric demonstration is contrary to

the spirit of the geometrical proof itself... Despite these shortcuts,

the method is undoubtedly effective. Perhaps it was an intuition of

this type that brought Pythagoras (Assyrians and Indians as well,

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

before him) to formulate the Theorem in 6th century BC.

We could take advantage of the same procedure to deduce the

well known Euclid’s Theorems.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Figure 1.2: Euclid Theorems.

In Fig. 1.2 we keep the height relative to the c side of one of the

triangles inside the square of the Fig. 1.1 and, denoting by p and

q = c − p, the projections of the catheti a and b (see the figure) on

the hypotenuse c we obtain

h2 + p 2 = a 2 , h2 + (c − p)2 = b2 , (1.1.6)

tended to reformulate the teaching of Mathematics on new grounds which accepts

only a well organized system of Axioms, namely the opposite of what we have

discussed so far.

4.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 4

4 Vedic Mathematics

which hold as a consequence of the fact that the triangles of edges

(h, a, p), (h, b, q) are right angled. Subtracting the respective sides of

the two previous equalities, we arrive at the following result

2cp − c2 = a2 − b2 (1.1.7)

which once embedded with the Pythagorean Theorem yields

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cp = a2 , cq = b2 . (1.1.8)

Furthermore, once combining the previous identities, we end up with

h2 = a2 − p2 = (c − p)p, h2 = pq. (1.1.9)

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

The last two identities are the Euclid’s first and second Theorems,

whose meaning is illustrated in Fig. 1.2.

We have therefore reversed the point of view expressed by Greek

mathematics according to which the Pythagorean Theorem is de-

duced from those of Euclid.

The ancient Greeks suffered from many idiosyncrasies. With re-

gard to geometry, they fixed precise rules, which determined the

genesis of the great questions that lasted for millennia. According to

Greek mathematicians, the tools allowed for geometric constructions

were the ruler and the compass. This prescription prevented the pos-

sibility of squaring the circle, namely of constructing a square with

the area equivalent to that of a circle. The proof that π is a tran-

scendental number was stimulated by the impossibility of squaring

the circle according to the ancient Greeks prescription. The solution

of the problem required more than two thousand years. Entire new

fields of Math had to be explored, astronomical distances in math

knowledge had to be covered, before stating that circle cannot be

squared employing Euclidean tools only. The answer was contained

in the transcendental nature of π, namely that it is not the solution

of any algebraic equation with rational coefficients. A statement so

apparently conceptually far from the formulation of the problem it

solved. This is a funny aspect of Math, it happened also for the solu-

tion of the last Fermat Theorem, whose solution required the creation

of new chapters in mathematical thought, as we will comment in the

forthcoming parts of this book.

4 Vedic Mathematics

which hold as a consequence of the fact that the triangles of edges

(h, a, p), (h, b, q) are right angled. Subtracting the respective sides of

the two previous equalities, we arrive at the following result

2cp − c2 = a2 − b2 (1.1.7)

which once embedded with the Pythagorean Theorem yields

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

cp = a2 , cq = b2 . (1.1.8)

Furthermore, once combining the previous identities, we end up with

h2 = a2 − p2 = (c − p)p, h2 = pq. (1.1.9)

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

The last two identities are the Euclid’s first and second Theorems,

whose meaning is illustrated in Fig. 1.2.

We have therefore reversed the point of view expressed by Greek

mathematics according to which the Pythagorean Theorem is de-

duced from those of Euclid.

The ancient Greeks suffered from many idiosyncrasies. With re-

gard to geometry, they fixed precise rules, which determined the

genesis of the great questions that lasted for millennia. According to

Greek mathematicians, the tools allowed for geometric constructions

were the ruler and the compass. This prescription prevented the pos-

sibility of squaring the circle, namely of constructing a square with

the area equivalent to that of a circle. The proof that π is a tran-

scendental number was stimulated by the impossibility of squaring

the circle according to the ancient Greeks prescription. The solution

of the problem required more than two thousand years. Entire new

fields of Math had to be explored, astronomical distances in math

knowledge had to be covered, before stating that circle cannot be

squared employing Euclidean tools only. The answer was contained

in the transcendental nature of π, namely that it is not the solution

of any algebraic equation with rational coefficients. A statement so

apparently conceptually far from the formulation of the problem it

solved. This is a funny aspect of Math, it happened also for the solu-

tion of the last Fermat Theorem, whose solution required the creation

of new chapters in mathematical thought, as we will comment in the

forthcoming parts of this book.

5.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 5

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 5

1.2 Numbers and Geometry

The ancient Egyptians too knew Pythagoras’ Theorem before

Pythagoras himself. They transformed it into a technological tool.

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Figure 1.3: Egyptian or Pythagorean triad for a = 16, b = 63, c = 65

and a2 = 33, b2 = 56, c2 = c = 65.

According to Fig. 1.3 a cord can be divided by a number of

equidistant knots, say 12, so as to form three consecutive groups of

3, 4 and 5. This triad constitutes the so-called Egyptian or Pythago-

rean triad and, since

32 + 42 = 52 , (1.2.1)

the nodes mark the sides of a right-angled triangle and therefore can

be used to “square” blocks of stone to be used in constructions.

The Assyrian-Babylonians had gone further: a concrete proof of

their knowledge is codified in their texts on clay tablets (see the Fig.

1.4 below).

Documents, dating between 2000 and 1500 BC, testify that they

knew the properties of the cords in a circle, the volume of the pyramid

and . . . the Pythagorean Theorem. Regarding the latter, they listed

“tables”, on clay tablets, which described Pythagorean triads, or

three integers that satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem. The titanic

computational effort (for the times) had been largely justified by the

practical outcome. Today we would not need it, but we could also

ask ourselves what links the Egyptian triad to others, such as those

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 5

1.2 Numbers and Geometry

The ancient Egyptians too knew Pythagoras’ Theorem before

Pythagoras himself. They transformed it into a technological tool.

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Figure 1.3: Egyptian or Pythagorean triad for a = 16, b = 63, c = 65

and a2 = 33, b2 = 56, c2 = c = 65.

According to Fig. 1.3 a cord can be divided by a number of

equidistant knots, say 12, so as to form three consecutive groups of

3, 4 and 5. This triad constitutes the so-called Egyptian or Pythago-

rean triad and, since

32 + 42 = 52 , (1.2.1)

the nodes mark the sides of a right-angled triangle and therefore can

be used to “square” blocks of stone to be used in constructions.

The Assyrian-Babylonians had gone further: a concrete proof of

their knowledge is codified in their texts on clay tablets (see the Fig.

1.4 below).

Documents, dating between 2000 and 1500 BC, testify that they

knew the properties of the cords in a circle, the volume of the pyramid

and . . . the Pythagorean Theorem. Regarding the latter, they listed

“tables”, on clay tablets, which described Pythagorean triads, or

three integers that satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem. The titanic

computational effort (for the times) had been largely justified by the

practical outcome. Today we would not need it, but we could also

ask ourselves what links the Egyptian triad to others, such as those

6.
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6 Vedic Mathematics

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

Figure 1.4: Clay tablet.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

listed below

(3, 4, 5) (5, 12, 13) (7, 8, 15)

(1.2.2)

(7, 24, 25) (12, 35, 37) (15, 36, 39).

To understand this link, we write our triad (3, 4, 5) as a column vector

3

ε= 4 (1.2.3)

5

and ask ourselves the problem of seeking a suitable transformation

which by acting on the vector “returns” another Pythagorean term,

for example

5

L · ε = 12 . (1.2.4)

13

By skipping the various, not entirely trivial, aspects of the search for

the solution, it is possible to prove that this transformation exists

and that can be expressed in terms of a matrix, given by

1 −2 2

L = 2 −1 2 . (1.2.5)

2 −2 3

In more general terms it can be proved that the solution is not unique

and other two (independent) matrices accomplish the same task,

6 Vedic Mathematics

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Figure 1.4: Clay tablet.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

listed below

(3, 4, 5) (5, 12, 13) (7, 8, 15)

(1.2.2)

(7, 24, 25) (12, 35, 37) (15, 36, 39).

To understand this link, we write our triad (3, 4, 5) as a column vector

3

ε= 4 (1.2.3)

5

and ask ourselves the problem of seeking a suitable transformation

which by acting on the vector “returns” another Pythagorean term,

for example

5

L · ε = 12 . (1.2.4)

13

By skipping the various, not entirely trivial, aspects of the search for

the solution, it is possible to prove that this transformation exists

and that can be expressed in terms of a matrix, given by

1 −2 2

L = 2 −1 2 . (1.2.5)

2 −2 3

In more general terms it can be proved that the solution is not unique

and other two (independent) matrices accomplish the same task,

7.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 7

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 7

namely

1 2 2 −1 2 2

U = 2 1 2 , R = −2 1 2 (1.2.6)

2 2 3 −2 2 3

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The previous matrices are called Hall matrices3 , they were in-

troduced in the early 1970s of the last century as the result of a non-

trivial effort, which demonstrates how a problem, several thousand

years old, has continued to arouse interest (and not only historical)

until recent times.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

1.3 Algebraic Equations and Geometry

The nuisance of the Greeks for everything that could not be

constructed with ruler and compass has already been underscored.

√

While they recognized that an irrational number, like 2, can be

constructed with Euclidean tools (as shown in the following figure),

they badly accepted its irrationality: a stain in the Pythagorean uni-

verse. It was kept as a secret, in the circle of initiates, and those

spreading it out were punished with death!

The construction of this irrational number involves a fairly simple

procedure (see Fig. 1.5):

1. Define an oriented axis, that we will say the line of the numbers,

fix on this a point A that stands out 1 from the origin O;

2. Construct a segment BA of length 1, perpendicular to the line;

3. Determine

√ the length of the OB segment, which we know to

be 2 as a consequence of the Pythagorean Theorem;

3

See e.g. A. Hall, Genealogy of Pythagorean Triads, Classroom Notes 232,

The Mathematical Gazette, vol. 54, 390, 1970, pp. 377–379 (and reprinted in

Biscuits of Number Theory, editors Arthur T. Benjamin and Ezra Brown) or B.

Berggren, Pytagoreiska triangular, Tidskrift for Elementar Matematik, Fysik och

Kemi, 17, 1934, pp. 129–139. For a more recent study see J. Miki, A Note on

the Generation of Pythagorean Triples, MAT-KOL (Banja Luka), XXIV, 1, 2018,

pp. 41–51 www.imvibl.org/dmbl/dmbl.htm, doi: 10.7251/MK1801041M.

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 7

namely

1 2 2 −1 2 2

U = 2 1 2 , R = −2 1 2 (1.2.6)

2 2 3 −2 2 3

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

The previous matrices are called Hall matrices3 , they were in-

troduced in the early 1970s of the last century as the result of a non-

trivial effort, which demonstrates how a problem, several thousand

years old, has continued to arouse interest (and not only historical)

until recent times.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

1.3 Algebraic Equations and Geometry

The nuisance of the Greeks for everything that could not be

constructed with ruler and compass has already been underscored.

√

While they recognized that an irrational number, like 2, can be

constructed with Euclidean tools (as shown in the following figure),

they badly accepted its irrationality: a stain in the Pythagorean uni-

verse. It was kept as a secret, in the circle of initiates, and those

spreading it out were punished with death!

The construction of this irrational number involves a fairly simple

procedure (see Fig. 1.5):

1. Define an oriented axis, that we will say the line of the numbers,

fix on this a point A that stands out 1 from the origin O;

2. Construct a segment BA of length 1, perpendicular to the line;

3. Determine

√ the length of the OB segment, which we know to

be 2 as a consequence of the Pythagorean Theorem;

3

See e.g. A. Hall, Genealogy of Pythagorean Triads, Classroom Notes 232,

The Mathematical Gazette, vol. 54, 390, 1970, pp. 377–379 (and reprinted in

Biscuits of Number Theory, editors Arthur T. Benjamin and Ezra Brown) or B.

Berggren, Pytagoreiska triangular, Tidskrift for Elementar Matematik, Fysik och

Kemi, 17, 1934, pp. 129–139. For a more recent study see J. Miki, A Note on

the Generation of Pythagorean Triples, MAT-KOL (Banja Luka), XXIV, 1, 2018,

pp. 41–51 www.imvibl.org/dmbl/dmbl.htm, doi: 10.7251/MK1801041M.

8.
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8 Vedic Mathematics

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Figure 1.5: Geometrical constructions of some irrational numbers.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

4. The point B can be projected on the axis OA by carrying a

rotation pointing

√ the compass at O, we have determined the

position of 2 on the line of numbers;

5. This procedure has allowed the construction of a “quadratic”

irrational number using the means of the Euclidean paradigms.

We can push the argument even further, a quadratic irrational

can be viewed as the root of a second degree algebraic equation. The

just foreseen simple procedure can be extended to display the geo-

metrical nature an equation of second degree.

Figure 1.6: Geometrical point of view of a second degree algebraic

equation.

8 Vedic Mathematics

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Figure 1.5: Geometrical constructions of some irrational numbers.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

4. The point B can be projected on the axis OA by carrying a

rotation pointing

√ the compass at O, we have determined the

position of 2 on the line of numbers;

5. This procedure has allowed the construction of a “quadratic”

irrational number using the means of the Euclidean paradigms.

We can push the argument even further, a quadratic irrational

can be viewed as the root of a second degree algebraic equation. The

just foreseen simple procedure can be extended to display the geo-

metrical nature an equation of second degree.

Figure 1.6: Geometrical point of view of a second degree algebraic

equation.

9.
March 31, 2021 9:38 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 9

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 9

To accomplish this task we refer to Fig. 1.5 and follow the in-

structions given below.

1. Build a segment, bounded by the ends A, B;

2. Construct a segment of length < AB

2 , perpendicular to AB at

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one of the extremes, say B, and indicate the upper end with

C;

3. Construct a semicircle of diameter equal to AB;

4. Move BC, parallel to itself, inside the circle, indicating with

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

P the point of contact with the circumference and with H the

point lying on the diameter AB, so that BC = P H;

5. From elementary geometry we know that the AP B triangle is

right angled;

6. Apply the second Euclid Theorem and get

AH · HB = P H 2 (1.3.1)

7. Use the following definitions

AH = x HB = AB − x AB = s P H = p (1.3.2)

8. Then get p

p= xs − x2 (1.3.3)

which is a second degree algebraic equation, with a transparent

geometrical meaning in the spirit of the ancient Greek mathe-

matics.

Quadratic irrationals are accordingly nicely fitted within the geomet-

rical cage.

Cubic irrationals are even

√ more scandalous than their quadratic

3

counterparts. The

√ number 2 cannot be constructed with ruler and

compass. That 3 2 is irrational it is easy to prove it, in light of what

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 9

To accomplish this task we refer to Fig. 1.5 and follow the in-

structions given below.

1. Build a segment, bounded by the ends A, B;

2. Construct a segment of length < AB

2 , perpendicular to AB at

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

one of the extremes, say B, and indicate the upper end with

C;

3. Construct a semicircle of diameter equal to AB;

4. Move BC, parallel to itself, inside the circle, indicating with

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

P the point of contact with the circumference and with H the

point lying on the diameter AB, so that BC = P H;

5. From elementary geometry we know that the AP B triangle is

right angled;

6. Apply the second Euclid Theorem and get

AH · HB = P H 2 (1.3.1)

7. Use the following definitions

AH = x HB = AB − x AB = s P H = p (1.3.2)

8. Then get p

p= xs − x2 (1.3.3)

which is a second degree algebraic equation, with a transparent

geometrical meaning in the spirit of the ancient Greek mathe-

matics.

Quadratic irrationals are accordingly nicely fitted within the geomet-

rical cage.

Cubic irrationals are even

√ more scandalous than their quadratic

3

counterparts. The

√ number 2 cannot be constructed with ruler and

compass. That 3 2 is irrational it is easy to prove it, in light of what

10.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 10

10 Vedic Mathematics

the Greeks did not know. If it were rational, we would be authorized

to write √3 m

2 = , ∀m, n ∈ Z (1.3.4)

n

according to which, after taking the cube of both sides, we find

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m3 = 2n3 = n3 + n3 (1.3.5)

and we might accordingly have stated the existence of a triple (m, n, p)

satisfying the identity

m3 = n3 + p3 (1.3.6)

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

In clear contrast with the Fermat Theorem (not important if p = n).

Therefore, through

√ the “reductio ad absurdum” procedure we have

shown that 3 2 is an irrational number (a nice exercise for the reader

is

√ to check whether the same method could be used to prove that

n

2 is irrational . . . ).

Let’s ask ourselves if there is a “super-Pythagorean” triangle

whose sides satisfy for example the identity (see also4 Fig. 1.7)

a3 + b3 = c3 . (1.3.7)

The use of the algebraic rule of the decomposition of the sum of two

cubes

a3 + b3 = (a + b) a2 − ab + b2 ,

(1.3.8)

eventually yields

c3 = (a + b) a2 − ab + b2 .

(1.3.9)

Albeit “Super-Pythagorean” triangle, it satisfies the Theorem of co-

sine5

c2 = a2 − 2 ab cos(φ) + b2 (1.3.10)

4

It should be noted that numbers representing the sides of a triangle are pos-

itive and satisfy the triangular inequalities, namely a + b > c. Under these

assumptions the Fermat Theorem is straightforwardly proved using elementary

means.

5

Sometimes defined as Carnot Theorem, it was however well known to Euclid.

10 Vedic Mathematics

the Greeks did not know. If it were rational, we would be authorized

to write √3 m

2 = , ∀m, n ∈ Z (1.3.4)

n

according to which, after taking the cube of both sides, we find

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m3 = 2n3 = n3 + n3 (1.3.5)

and we might accordingly have stated the existence of a triple (m, n, p)

satisfying the identity

m3 = n3 + p3 (1.3.6)

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

In clear contrast with the Fermat Theorem (not important if p = n).

Therefore, through

√ the “reductio ad absurdum” procedure we have

shown that 3 2 is an irrational number (a nice exercise for the reader

is

√ to check whether the same method could be used to prove that

n

2 is irrational . . . ).

Let’s ask ourselves if there is a “super-Pythagorean” triangle

whose sides satisfy for example the identity (see also4 Fig. 1.7)

a3 + b3 = c3 . (1.3.7)

The use of the algebraic rule of the decomposition of the sum of two

cubes

a3 + b3 = (a + b) a2 − ab + b2 ,

(1.3.8)

eventually yields

c3 = (a + b) a2 − ab + b2 .

(1.3.9)

Albeit “Super-Pythagorean” triangle, it satisfies the Theorem of co-

sine5

c2 = a2 − 2 ab cos(φ) + b2 (1.3.10)

4

It should be noted that numbers representing the sides of a triangle are pos-

itive and satisfy the triangular inequalities, namely a + b > c. Under these

assumptions the Fermat Theorem is straightforwardly proved using elementary

means.

5

Sometimes defined as Carnot Theorem, it was however well known to Euclid.

11.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 11

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 11

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Figure 1.7: Super-Pythagorean Theorem.

which, combined with the fundamental identity for Fermat triangles,

yields

c a2 − ab + b2

= 2 . (1.3.11)

a+b a − 2 ab cos(φ) + b2

By assuming that the triangle is isosceles with a = b = l, we reduce

the above identity to

c l2 − l2 + l2 1 c 1

= 2 = ⇒ = .

2l l − 2l2 cos(φ) + l2 2 − 2 cos(φ) l 1 − cos(φ)

(1.3.12)

On the other side, it is also true that

c 3

l3 + l3 = c3 ⇒ =2 (1.3.13)

l

which yields

√

3 1

2= . (1.3.14)

1 − cos(φ)

Therefore, if we construct an isosceles triangle of side 1 (with an

angle at the vertex of about φ = 1.364 rad) we have automatically

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 11

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Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Figure 1.7: Super-Pythagorean Theorem.

which, combined with the fundamental identity for Fermat triangles,

yields

c a2 − ab + b2

= 2 . (1.3.11)

a+b a − 2 ab cos(φ) + b2

By assuming that the triangle is isosceles with a = b = l, we reduce

the above identity to

c l2 − l2 + l2 1 c 1

= 2 = ⇒ = .

2l l − 2l2 cos(φ) + l2 2 − 2 cos(φ) l 1 − cos(φ)

(1.3.12)

On the other side, it is also true that

c 3

l3 + l3 = c3 ⇒ =2 (1.3.13)

l

which yields

√

3 1

2= . (1.3.14)

1 − cos(φ)

Therefore, if we construct an isosceles triangle of side 1 (with an

angle at the vertex of about φ = 1.364 rad) we have automatically

12.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 12

12 Vedic Mathematics

obtained a super-Pythagorean triangle√ and we have geometrically

3

constructed the irrational number 2 . . . Problem solved? Obvi-

ously not!!! At least according to the prescriptions of the ancient

Greeks. In the construction we did not use either row or compass

and we made everything depending on the solution of an equation of

third degree, unknown to the Greeks and not-soluble with Euclidean

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instruments. The ignorance of the algebraic equations higher than

the second caused the Greeks not a little trouble. During a plague

that raged in Athens, the Delo oracle ruled that the scourge would be

removed if the volume of the temple dedicated to Apollo had dou-

bled. It was a cube with a side of length l. In modern terms the

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

problem of the oracle is reduced to the solution of the equation

x3 = 2 l 3 (1.3.15)

where x is the side of the cube, doubling the original volume. The

problem, fatally (it must be said), is that of defining the cube root of

2, which, as we have seen, was not easy for the Greeks. The solution

frustrated the best minds at the dawn of Western thought and the

plague further raged. A mathematician by the name of Menecmo

(about 320 AC) proposed a solution of geometric nature, through

the use of conics. Let’s try to follow an argument that makes us

understand how the problem can be solved in these terms.

We rewrite our equation in the form

x2 2l2

= (1.3.16)

l x

then we set

x2 2l2

y= ⇒ y= . (1.3.17)

l x

The intersection between the parabolas and the hyperbola will pro-

vide the value of the unknown x. Even combining the previous rela-

tionships we can get another parabola

y 2 = 2 lx (1.3.18)

which intersected with one of the previous conics will provide the

same solution, as it has been shown in Fig. 1.8.

12 Vedic Mathematics

obtained a super-Pythagorean triangle√ and we have geometrically

3

constructed the irrational number 2 . . . Problem solved? Obvi-

ously not!!! At least according to the prescriptions of the ancient

Greeks. In the construction we did not use either row or compass

and we made everything depending on the solution of an equation of

third degree, unknown to the Greeks and not-soluble with Euclidean

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

instruments. The ignorance of the algebraic equations higher than

the second caused the Greeks not a little trouble. During a plague

that raged in Athens, the Delo oracle ruled that the scourge would be

removed if the volume of the temple dedicated to Apollo had dou-

bled. It was a cube with a side of length l. In modern terms the

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

problem of the oracle is reduced to the solution of the equation

x3 = 2 l 3 (1.3.15)

where x is the side of the cube, doubling the original volume. The

problem, fatally (it must be said), is that of defining the cube root of

2, which, as we have seen, was not easy for the Greeks. The solution

frustrated the best minds at the dawn of Western thought and the

plague further raged. A mathematician by the name of Menecmo

(about 320 AC) proposed a solution of geometric nature, through

the use of conics. Let’s try to follow an argument that makes us

understand how the problem can be solved in these terms.

We rewrite our equation in the form

x2 2l2

= (1.3.16)

l x

then we set

x2 2l2

y= ⇒ y= . (1.3.17)

l x

The intersection between the parabolas and the hyperbola will pro-

vide the value of the unknown x. Even combining the previous rela-

tionships we can get another parabola

y 2 = 2 lx (1.3.18)

which intersected with one of the previous conics will provide the

same solution, as it has been shown in Fig. 1.8.

13.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 13

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 13

35

30 y=x 2 / l

25 y=2l2 / x

20 y= 2 lx

y(x,l)

15

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

10

5 P

0

0 2 4 6 8 10

x

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Figure 1.8: Intersection between the parabolas (1.3.17) and the hy-

perbola (1.3.18) for l = 2. P ≡ (2.5198, 3.1748) is the intersection

point.

The problem was solved, other proposed solutions (even one by

Plato) will not be reported here. The chronicles do not tell if the

plague had diminished or not. We could, however, venture a (mod-

ern) hypothesis: infectious diseases can be described in terms of the

predator-prey mechanism, the predator in this case is the bacillus of

the plague and prey is man. From a mathematical point of view,

after a long enough time, the system reaches a state of balance and

the disease recedes. If the time necessary to find the solution was

comparable to that characterizing the dynamics of the predator-prey

interaction the Greeks might have convinced themselves that it was

just the strength of the conics, to defeat the raging morbus. In

addition we have not too much arguments to say that they were

not right. It may be argued that Menecno did not use Euclidean

tools, but conics. The rebuttal is straightforward, conics too can be

constructed with ruler and compass. In the 18th century, the Italian

mathematician, Lorenzo Mascheroni showed in his book “La Geome-

tria del Compasso” that the compass was sufficient to accomplish the

Euclidean geometric construction. One of the problem treated in the

book was even that of duplicating the cube by the use of compass.

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 13

35

30 y=x 2 / l

25 y=2l2 / x

20 y= 2 lx

y(x,l)

15

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

10

5 P

0

0 2 4 6 8 10

x

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Figure 1.8: Intersection between the parabolas (1.3.17) and the hy-

perbola (1.3.18) for l = 2. P ≡ (2.5198, 3.1748) is the intersection

point.

The problem was solved, other proposed solutions (even one by

Plato) will not be reported here. The chronicles do not tell if the

plague had diminished or not. We could, however, venture a (mod-

ern) hypothesis: infectious diseases can be described in terms of the

predator-prey mechanism, the predator in this case is the bacillus of

the plague and prey is man. From a mathematical point of view,

after a long enough time, the system reaches a state of balance and

the disease recedes. If the time necessary to find the solution was

comparable to that characterizing the dynamics of the predator-prey

interaction the Greeks might have convinced themselves that it was

just the strength of the conics, to defeat the raging morbus. In

addition we have not too much arguments to say that they were

not right. It may be argued that Menecno did not use Euclidean

tools, but conics. The rebuttal is straightforward, conics too can be

constructed with ruler and compass. In the 18th century, the Italian

mathematician, Lorenzo Mascheroni showed in his book “La Geome-

tria del Compasso” that the compass was sufficient to accomplish the

Euclidean geometric construction. One of the problem treated in the

book was even that of duplicating the cube by the use of compass.

14.
March 31, 2021 9:38 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 14

14 Vedic Mathematics

1.4 Babylonians and Second Degree

Algebraic Equations

Since we have quoted the equations of second degree and the at-

titude of the people of pre-Hellenic culture to have a more flexible

attitude towards Mathematics itself, to which they looked for prac-

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

tical reasons, we believe it is appropriate to say something about the

algebraic abilities of the Babylonians. They would have certainly

solved the problem of Menecno without resorting to conics. We con-

sider it absolutely noteworthy that the solution of the second degree

equations was known to the Babylonians, who had made it a working

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

tool6 . Probably the Babylonians had come to understand that the

solution of a second degree equation is reducible to the extraction

of a square root and to the solution of a first degree equation. We

will discuss the so-called Babylonian algorithm for calculating square

roots in the next chapter.

In order to better appreciate the Babylonian method, let us re-

member that the logical steps that lead to the solution of one second

degree equation are the following:

1. Factorize the second degree polynomial as

" 2 2 #

b c b b −4ac

(ax2 + bx + c) = a x2 + x+ = a x+ − ;

a a 2a 4a2

(1.4.1)

2. Keep the square root and determine the two distinct roots of

the equation

√

−b+ ∆

2 2

b −4ac

x+ = 2

x+

b

= ⇒ 2a√ , ∆ = b −4ac .

2a 4a2 −b− ∆ 4a2

x− =

2a

(1.4.2)

The example which we report below, and found on a tablet dating

back to 4000 BC, is presumably an exercise proposed for educational

6

This aspect will be commented further in this book.

14 Vedic Mathematics

1.4 Babylonians and Second Degree

Algebraic Equations

Since we have quoted the equations of second degree and the at-

titude of the people of pre-Hellenic culture to have a more flexible

attitude towards Mathematics itself, to which they looked for prac-

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

tical reasons, we believe it is appropriate to say something about the

algebraic abilities of the Babylonians. They would have certainly

solved the problem of Menecno without resorting to conics. We con-

sider it absolutely noteworthy that the solution of the second degree

equations was known to the Babylonians, who had made it a working

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

tool6 . Probably the Babylonians had come to understand that the

solution of a second degree equation is reducible to the extraction

of a square root and to the solution of a first degree equation. We

will discuss the so-called Babylonian algorithm for calculating square

roots in the next chapter.

In order to better appreciate the Babylonian method, let us re-

member that the logical steps that lead to the solution of one second

degree equation are the following:

1. Factorize the second degree polynomial as

" 2 2 #

b c b b −4ac

(ax2 + bx + c) = a x2 + x+ = a x+ − ;

a a 2a 4a2

(1.4.1)

2. Keep the square root and determine the two distinct roots of

the equation

√

−b+ ∆

2 2

b −4ac

x+ = 2

x+

b

= ⇒ 2a√ , ∆ = b −4ac .

2a 4a2 −b− ∆ 4a2

x− =

2a

(1.4.2)

The example which we report below, and found on a tablet dating

back to 4000 BC, is presumably an exercise proposed for educational

6

This aspect will be commented further in this book.

15.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 15

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 15

purposes. It represents an extremely important example to under-

stand the path of evolution of Mathematics.

The problem is formulated as follows:

I added 7 times the side of my square to 11 times its surface and

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I got 6.25, how much is the side?

Translated in a modern mathematical language the solution of

the exercise is provided by the roots of the second degree algebraic

equation

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

11x2 + 7x = 6.25. (1.4.3)

The tablet does not contain a general formula for the solution of

second degree equations but a series of instructions reported below.

For an easy comparison with the “modern rule”, bear in mind that

a = 11, b = 7, c = −6.25. (1.4.4)

The solution recipe follows the steps listed below.

1. Multiply 11 and 6.25: (−a · c = 68.75);

b

2. Divide 7 by 2: = 3.5 ;

2

2

b

3. Square it: = 12.25 ;

4

4. Add it to the result in step 1:

b2 − 4ac

12.25+68.75 = 81 ⇒ = 81 ;

4

r !

√ b2 − 4ac

5. Take the square root: 81 = 9 = ;

4

6. Subtract the result in 2 from 9:

r !

b2 −4ac b

9−3.5 = 5.5 ⇒ − = 5.5 ;

4 2

The cooking recipe ends up with the crucial point:

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 15

purposes. It represents an extremely important example to under-

stand the path of evolution of Mathematics.

The problem is formulated as follows:

I added 7 times the side of my square to 11 times its surface and

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

I got 6.25, how much is the side?

Translated in a modern mathematical language the solution of

the exercise is provided by the roots of the second degree algebraic

equation

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

11x2 + 7x = 6.25. (1.4.3)

The tablet does not contain a general formula for the solution of

second degree equations but a series of instructions reported below.

For an easy comparison with the “modern rule”, bear in mind that

a = 11, b = 7, c = −6.25. (1.4.4)

The solution recipe follows the steps listed below.

1. Multiply 11 and 6.25: (−a · c = 68.75);

b

2. Divide 7 by 2: = 3.5 ;

2

2

b

3. Square it: = 12.25 ;

4

4. Add it to the result in step 1:

b2 − 4ac

12.25+68.75 = 81 ⇒ = 81 ;

4

r !

√ b2 − 4ac

5. Take the square root: 81 = 9 = ;

4

6. Subtract the result in 2 from 9:

r !

b2 −4ac b

9−3.5 = 5.5 ⇒ − = 5.5 ;

4 2

The cooking recipe ends up with the crucial point:

16.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 16

16 Vedic Mathematics

7. Find the number which multiplied by 11 returns 5.5, it will

provide the length of the square side (this instruction amounts

to

r ! √

1 b2 − 4ac b −b + ∆

11 · 0.5 = 5.5 ⇐= − ⇐= x+ =

a 4 2 2a

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

(1.4.5)

which is the positive root of the second degree equation).

That’s the tool kit!

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

No explanation why it goes that way, no attempt to frame it into a

wider context. We have noticed that only one root has been reported.

Although natural to discard the negative root for the solution of a

geometric problem, it seems however that it was systematic, even

when two positive solutions were admitted. This is supposedly due

to the fact that those ancient mathematicians did not know that,

in the process of extracting the square root, one can have positive

and negative numbers as well. Apart from these details, it is truly

amazing that a problem, posed (and solved in its essential lines) 5000

years ahead of the era of the great algebraic masters of the modern

era, has been “forgotten” for a few millennia.

Babylonians were also able to calculate cubic roots. They might

have been able to solve quite straightforwardly the problem of cube

duplication. They had “tables” of exact cubic roots, if the number

from which to extract the root had not been listed they used an

algorithm, which from our (modern) perspective is reduced to the

identity

√ a √

r

3 3

a= 3 · b (1.4.6)

b

where b is chosen to be an exact cube root.

The example we give is taken from a tablet in which it was re-

quired to evaluate the cubic root of 729000 that is written as

√ √ √

r

3 3 729000 3 3

729000 = · 27000 = 27 · 30 = 90 (1.4.7)

27000

16 Vedic Mathematics

7. Find the number which multiplied by 11 returns 5.5, it will

provide the length of the square side (this instruction amounts

to

r ! √

1 b2 − 4ac b −b + ∆

11 · 0.5 = 5.5 ⇐= − ⇐= x+ =

a 4 2 2a

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

(1.4.5)

which is the positive root of the second degree equation).

That’s the tool kit!

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

No explanation why it goes that way, no attempt to frame it into a

wider context. We have noticed that only one root has been reported.

Although natural to discard the negative root for the solution of a

geometric problem, it seems however that it was systematic, even

when two positive solutions were admitted. This is supposedly due

to the fact that those ancient mathematicians did not know that,

in the process of extracting the square root, one can have positive

and negative numbers as well. Apart from these details, it is truly

amazing that a problem, posed (and solved in its essential lines) 5000

years ahead of the era of the great algebraic masters of the modern

era, has been “forgotten” for a few millennia.

Babylonians were also able to calculate cubic roots. They might

have been able to solve quite straightforwardly the problem of cube

duplication. They had “tables” of exact cubic roots, if the number

from which to extract the root had not been listed they used an

algorithm, which from our (modern) perspective is reduced to the

identity

√ a √

r

3 3

a= 3 · b (1.4.6)

b

where b is chosen to be an exact cube root.

The example we give is taken from a tablet in which it was re-

quired to evaluate the cubic root of 729000 that is written as

√ √ √

r

3 3 729000 3 3

729000 = · 27000 = 27 · 30 = 90 (1.4.7)

27000

17.
March 8, 2021 15:55 book-9x6 BC: 11858 - Vedic Mathematics VedicBook page 17

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 17

The scribe, presenting the exercise, took care to choose known roots,

if they were not, the procedure to be followed is a sort of interpola-

tion, as we will see in the next chapters.

Let us now summarize what has been discussed so far. We gave

a bird’s eye view, in perfect Assyrian-Babylonian style, over four

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

millennia of Mathematics. In our “tour” we mixed ancient and mod-

ern, without taking care of the logical connection and resorting to

concepts (eventually true) used, for our purposes, in “extemporane-

ous” form, that is, not inserted in a coherent “corpus”, such as the

canonized one in the Elements of Euclid.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

1.5 Numbers, Basis and Polynomials

One of the highest accomplishments of Mathematics has been the

discovery of the decimal numeral system which is the way suggested

by Arabs and Indus to express numbers in the current notation. Any

number can be ordered in powers of 10, accordingly the number 231

is written as

231 = 2 · 102 + 3 · 10 + 1 · 100 = {2, 3, 1}10 . (1.5.1)

The notation we have foreseen consists of a series of numbers (the

composing digits) in brace brackets and of a further number (the

base), appended as lower index to the right bracket. The further

rule is that the inner bracket numbers are non negative integers less

than 10 (all digits 0, 1, . . . , 9). According to these prescriptions the

base is not unique (10 was perhaps chosen in correspondence of the

number of human fingers) but any other positive integer may be

employed as well. The use of the base 7 yields

{2, 3, 1}7 = 2 · 72 + 3 · 7 + 1 · 70 = 120. (1.5.2)

The use of a more generic p and an inner bracket triad a, b, c arranged

as

{a, b, c}p = ap2 + bp + c (1.5.3)

represents another way of expressing a second degree polynomial.

The use of this notation suggests that the numbers (a2 , 2a, 1)p are

Mixing Up Ancient and Modern 17

The scribe, presenting the exercise, took care to choose known roots,

if they were not, the procedure to be followed is a sort of interpola-

tion, as we will see in the next chapters.

Let us now summarize what has been discussed so far. We gave

a bird’s eye view, in perfect Assyrian-Babylonian style, over four

by 101.0.49.50 on 04/01/22. Re-use and distribution is strictly not permitted, except for Open Access articles.

millennia of Mathematics. In our “tour” we mixed ancient and mod-

ern, without taking care of the logical connection and resorting to

concepts (eventually true) used, for our purposes, in “extemporane-

ous” form, that is, not inserted in a coherent “corpus”, such as the

canonized one in the Elements of Euclid.

Vedic Mathematics Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

1.5 Numbers, Basis and Polynomials

One of the highest accomplishments of Mathematics has been the

discovery of the decimal numeral system which is the way suggested

by Arabs and Indus to express numbers in the current notation. Any

number can be ordered in powers of 10, accordingly the number 231

is written as

231 = 2 · 102 + 3 · 10 + 1 · 100 = {2, 3, 1}10 . (1.5.1)

The notation we have foreseen consists of a series of numbers (the

composing digits) in brace brackets and of a further number (the

base), appended as lower index to the right bracket. The further

rule is that the inner bracket numbers are non negative integers less

than 10 (all digits 0, 1, . . . , 9). According to these prescriptions the

base is not unique (10 was perhaps chosen in correspondence of the

number of human fingers) but any other positive integer may be

employed as well. The use of the base 7 yields

{2, 3, 1}7 = 2 · 72 + 3 · 7 + 1 · 70 = 120. (1.5.2)

The use of a more generic p and an inner bracket triad a, b, c arranged

as

{a, b, c}p = ap2 + bp + c (1.5.3)

represents another way of expressing a second degree polynomial.

The use of this notation suggests that the numbers (a2 , 2a, 1)p are