Preprint Article Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

On the Indian Tradition of Mathematical Names: A Scientific Analysis

Version 1 : Received: 1 April 2021 / Approved: 2 April 2021 / Online: 2 April 2021 (15:31:41 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 5 April 2021 / Approved: 5 April 2021 / Online: 5 April 2021 (14:42:47 CEST)

How to cite: Karn, A.; Rosiejka, B.; Badoni, P.; Singh, R.K. On the Indian Tradition of Mathematical Names: A Scientific Analysis. Preprints 2021, 2021040076. Karn, A.; Rosiejka, B.; Badoni, P.; Singh, R.K. On the Indian Tradition of Mathematical Names: A Scientific Analysis. Preprints 2021, 2021040076.


The current paper explores the potential interlink between names of individuals in a society and its collective social consciousness, particularly with reference to the pervasive occurrence of the ‘mathematical names’ in the current Hindu society in the Indian subcontinent and beyond. Initially, an attempt is made to put things into mathematical perspective by drawing a quick sketch of some of the stellar achievements of the Indian mathematicians. Under the six broad categories of geometry, trigonometry, numeration, arithmetic, algebra, and mathematics in the Vedic tradition, a concise simple description of these subdivisions is presented, underlining the names of the concepts and terms, sometimes by producing the textual references. Then, upon identification of such mathematical terms, an attempt is made to juxtapose these with the names current in the Indian Hindu society. By employing an extensive dataset of university student names in India and the directories of Facebook and LinkedIn, we produce both qualitative and quantitative evidence of the presence of such names in the Indian subcontinent. Evidently, these names reflect the impressions of the tremendously rich mathematical heritage left by the Hindu stalwart mathematicians. This hypothesis has also been examined by taking surveys of people bearing these mathematical names, as well as by documenting the ‘conscious procedures’ that go behind the naming of a Hindu Indian child. In trying to investigate if such a phenomenon is unique to the Indian tradition, a stark contrast with the ‘names in mathematics’ as prevalent in the European mathematical traditions is presented, as cultural roots of mathematics are explored. Further, we ascribe the presence of these names as the extant remains of the colossal impact of multifarious mathematical traditions existing in India. Interestingly, the present research also brings to the fore, certain unseen facets of the Indian Hindu society as regards the education of mathematics to women – through an indirect exploration of their names. We also show that the pervasive occurrence of these names is not merely the result of semantic chance events, but denotes the richness of the Indian mathematical legacy. Next, we also present cross-cultural comparisons to show the uniqueness of Indian mathematical and scientific traditions that led to the pervasiveness of ‘mathematical names’ in India. Finally, an attempt is made to clarify some subtle points on the associations between mathematics and religion in India and other cultures of the world. It is sincerely hoped that the present study may shed light on the cultural roots of mathematics and may furnish a new dimension in the study of mathematics, culture and civilizations across the world.


Mathematical names; Hindu mathematical tradition; Indian social psyche; Mathematics and religion; Mathematics and society; Hindu mathematics


Computer Science and Mathematics, Mathematics

Comments (5)

Comment 1
Received: 5 April 2021
Commenter: Ashish Karn
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: Grammatical corrections incorporated, formatting of the paper improved.
Some sentences were added.
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Response 1 to Comment 1
Received: 2 December 2021
Commenter: Dr. John Davis
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: This is by far the best paper I have ever come across. Excellent hypothesis and analysis presented by the author.

No doubt that's why Voltaire, a French philosopher remarked: 'I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges...'.

The author has done a remarkingly amazing job in extricating the names of Indians and juxtaposed it with the terms of mathematics as used by mathematical geniuses of India. Would love to see the sequel of this article.
Comment 2
Received: 3 December 2021
Commenter: Dr. Adam Witt
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: This is truly terrific article. And an eye-opening as well, in the history of maths.

It is hard to conceive of a place where millions of names are inspired from maths. That's really incredible! India has always amazed me.

The article is a bit long but that is understandable considering the novelty of this topic and the depth that the author needs to cover to fully prove his hypothesis. Overall a very good read.
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Response 1 to Comment 2
Received: 6 December 2021
Commenter: Brett Rosiejka
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Co-author
Comment: Truly eye opening to see a subtle aspect of such a rich and unique mathematical heritage passed down through the generations via names.
Comment 3
Received: 4 December 2021
Commenter: Barbara Heitkamp
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: This is a fabulous article. Wonderful analysis presented by the author.

This article presents a mix of so many things - mathematics, history, Sanskrit, sociology, linguistics and computer science. This is first-of-a-kind paper which can bring so many elements together : it kind of bewilders me how so many things can fit within one human brain: a brain that is willing to go through the pain of writing 64 scholarly pages! lol!

One of the sections of conclusions particularly stood out for me: I never knew that many of the well established theorems in maths that I studied in graduate school belonged to the Indian Stalwarts. Truly these guys from India had some character - they had a serious pursuit of knowledge, but not of taking credit and come first in the 'race'.

The world would have been a different place had we seen more people like those.
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