Almost every student would have wanted to travel back in time and prevent whoever invented math from doing so. Well, it is (quite literally) filled with problems after all. The same wish perhaps has crossed our minds with any other subject that resulted in homework and problematic tests taken from time to time. But, even if granted the chance, would it be likely that we travel back in time and avert the invention of math from happening? In all probability, it is a rather unimaginable task. Because unlike the television or the telephone, mathematics was not an invention but more of a discovery.
Mathematics incorporates many diverse types of studies, so it is tough to zero in on a single person and credit them for discovering this revolutionary concept. Research suggests that math was developed gradually over many years with the assistance of thousands of people. Let us explore more about how math came to be and its evolution over the years.
How and Where Did It All Originate?
No one knows for sure, but we can use our imaginations to think about the roots of math. For instance, if we travel back to the prehistoric era where humans were gathering apples to eat, we can determine how this simple task perhaps gave rise to the definite need for math in our lives.Imagine you are a human in the prehistoric period. You and your friend gather a basket full of apples and would most likely agree on splitting them equally. First, you need to know the exact number of apples you have before proceeding with the split. That means you would need to count them: a task that would require you to come up with some names for measurement, i.e., numbers.Could this be the way counting and numbers came into existence? Well, we would like to give that possibility a solid chance. Likewise, the concept of division might have started from the need to split that pile of apples evenly between the two of you.Prehistoric humans might not have been very advanced with their idea of math. However, various instances in their daily lives may have led to discovering certain mathematic principles rather than being invented. This fundamental learning ultimately paved the way to more progressive fields of mathematics, like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
The Early Tale of MathematicsScientists believe that early mathematical functions, like addition and division, can be traced back to the Chinese, Indus, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian civilizations. The oldest clay tablets of mathematics are at least 4,000 years ancient, starting in Mesopotamia, and the oldest written findings on mathematics were Egyptian papyruses. Now, since these are a few of the ancient societies on Earth, it only makes sense that the people of these civilizations would have been the first to discover the fundamentals of mathematics. There have been pieces of evidence pointing to the existence of advanced mathematics, which is over 2,500 years old, in ancient Greece. Mathematician Pythagoras had queries about the sides of a perfect triangle. His findings and research eventually led to a simple understanding of triangles that we study today, called the Pythagorean Theorem. Almost all present-day mathematical experts agree that it might have been ancient Greece where the concept of mathematics elevated to the status of organized science. Since then, mathematical discoveries have encouraged other scientists and mathematicians to shape upon the work of their ancestral peers, continually expanding our understanding of the subject and its relation to the world around us.
Father of MathematicsThe term ‘mathematics’ is originally derived from the Greek term ‘mathema,’ which means knowledge. It comprises the study of ideas like number theory, mathematical analysis, algebra, etc., Archimedes is widely regarded as the Father of Mathematics. He lived sometime between 287 BC – 212 BC. He is known to have been born in Syracuse, on the Greek island of Sicily. Archimedes’ claim to fame began by serving King Hiero II of Syracuse, where he was resolved mathematical problems and developed battle-smart innovations for the king and his army. Some of the most noteworthy inventions and discoveries of Archimedes comprise the calculation of the dimension of a circle, the process of exhaustion to measure the areas of various shapes, the association between cylinders and spheres, the usage of prime numbers, the concept of infinity, the ideas of conoids and spheroids, and many more. An award named in honor of Archimedes, ‘The Fields Medal,’ is a tribute to his contributions to the fields of science and mathematics. The Medal is considered the highest honor a mathematician could ever receive.
Historical Facts About MathematicsWhile we have discussed in length the origins and rise of mathematics, here are a few interesting historical facts for some light reading:
- The Sumerians were the very first civilization to have established a counting system.
- Many scientists believe that a few of the oldest and most simple mathematical functions, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, have been around for over 4,000 years.
- The textbooks used in ancient times were clay tablets in the earliest Mesopotamia.
- There are also instances of the ancient Egyptians having made some mathematical discoveries that date back to around 4,000 years and are seen on early Egyptian papyruses, considered the oldest writing materials.
- In Central America, there lived the infamous Mayans, who were using mathematics to understand the various concepts of astronomy. They established elaborate calendars and the usage of mathematics to comprehend the passing of time.
- Around 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, mathematical discoveries were being formalized and had become an organized science in Greece.
- As soon as the early Greeks began determining explanations for natural phenomena and lay some of the basic foundations on arithmetic and geometry, the discoveries in the field of applied mathematics began to accelerate significantly.
- The idea of geometry enables the building of structures and cities.