The Most Influential
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Brahmagupta / bruh-muh-GOOP-tuh /
Indian Mathematician and Astronomer
Mathematics Ranking 7th of 46
Indian numerals 1-9 and the dot · for zero. Stamp from Iran, 1987.
Brahmagupta was born in Brinmal, northwestern India, to a high official in the local government. The social position of his family permitted Brahmagupta to receive the best education available. At some time prior to about 620, he moved to Ujjain, the great astronomical center of Hindu science. There, Brahmagupta continued his education and began refining and extending the system of the sun, moon, and planets developed by Aryabhata.(1)
Mathematics–Number Notation System, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry
Brahmagupta formulated the basic rules of algebra, thus creating modern algebra.(2) At age 30, he composed his major work, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta (Brahma’s Revised System), an astronomical work in Sanskrit verse. Brahmagupta’s work contains the principle of the decimal place-value system using the nine Indian numerals and the zero, as well as calculation methods in arithmetic and the basics of Indian algebra, and he defines infinity as the number whose denominator is zero. “It ... seems quite likely that not only Indian astronomy, but mathematics too, were introduced to the Muslims through the work of Brahmagupta.”(3)
(1) Donald R. Franceschetti (editor), Biographical Encyclopedia of Mathematicians (New York, 1999), p. 81.
(2) Georges Ifrah, The Universal History of Numbers (New York, 2000), p. 439.
(3) Ibid., p. 530.