Tracing the Conception of Arithmetic and Algebra in Ancient China
The Hindu-Arabic numeral system (1,2,3,...) is one of mankind's greatest achievements and one of its most commonly used inventions. How did it originate? Those who have written about the numeral system have hypothesized that it originated in India; however, there is litle evidence to support this claim. This book provides considerable evidence to show that the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, in spite of its commonly accepted name, has its origins in the Chinese rod numeral system. This system was in use in China from antiquity till the 16th and 17th century. It was used by officials, astronomers, traders and others to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and other arithmetric operations, and also used by mathematicians to develop arithmetic and algebra. Sun Zi Suanjing (the mathematical Classic of Sun Zi) written around 400 AD is the earliest existing work to have a description of the rod numerals and their operations.
With this treatise as a central reference, the first part of the book discusses the development of arithmetric and the beginnings of algebra in ancient China and space, on the basis of this knowledge, advances the thesis that the Hindu-Arabic numeral system has its origins in the rod numeral system. Part Two gives a complete translation of Sun Zi Suanjing.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"... the book can be very useful to non specialised readers desirous of getting to know the general features of ancient Chinese arithmetic." Mathematics Abstracts "Westerners like the present reviewer that do not master the Chinese language are highly dependent upon translations into European languages. Such translations have been rather scarce, and Fleeting Footsteps provides an important contribution." Centaurus (Copenhagen) "Fleeting Footsteps is a valuable resource for understanding early Chinese mathematics ... highly recommended for general reading and library acquisition." American Mathematical Monthly