Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Sines in terse verse," by Roddam Narasimha. Nature, 20/27 December 2001,page 851.

This article describes an ancient Indian method of recording and memorizinglarge numbers. The numbers were encoded into synthetic words that formedverses. By memorizing the verses, people could keep track of the numbers."The code was an ingenious solution to the problem of writing mathematics interse verse," the article states. "Verse was the norm in Sanskrit writing,even in science, for it was long before the days of paper and printing." Theverses were even used to encode tables of values of the sine function.

--- Allyn Jackson