NOTHING STARTS FROM NOTHING as many philosophers used to say ……


This “nothing” is also known by other names such as “NULL” OR “ZERO”

The man who changed the basis of calculations when he invented “0”


Aryabhatta (476-550 A.D.), one of the world’s greatest mathematician-astronomer, was born in Patliputra in Magadha,

modern Patna in Bihar. Many are of the view that he was born in the south of India especially Kerala and lived in

Magadha at the time of the Gupta rulers. However, there exists no documentation to ascertain his exact birthplace.

Whatever his origin, it cannot be argued that he lived in Patliputra where he wrote his famous treatise the "Aryabhatta-

siddhanta" but more famously the "Aryabhattya", -- incidentally the only work to have survived.

His greatest contribution has to be ZERO, for which he became immortal. He certainly did not use the symbol, but

the French mathematician Georges Ifrah argues that knowledge of zero was implicit in Aryabhata's place-value

system as a place holder for the powers of ten with null coefficients. The supposition is based on the following two

facts: first, the invention of his alphabetical counting system would have been impossible without zero or the place-

value system; secondly, he carries out calculations on square and cubic roots which are impossible if the numbers

in question are not written according to the place-value system and zero.

Aryabhatta gave an accurate approximation for π. He wrote in the Aryabhattya the following:-

Add four to one hundred, multiply by eight and then add sixty-two thousand. the result is approximately the

circumference of a circle of diameter twenty thousand. By this rule the relation of the circumference to

diameter is given.

This gives π = 62832/20000 = 3.1416 which is a surprisingly accurate value. In fact π = 3.14159265 correct to 8

places. If obtaining a value this accurate is surprising, it is perhaps even more surprising that Aryabhata does not

use his accurate value for π but prefers to use √10 = 3.1622 in practice. Aryabhata's value of π is a very close

approximation to the modern value and the most accurate among those of the ancients. There are reasons to

believe that Aryabhata devised a particular method for finding this value. It is shown with sufficient grounds that

Aryabhata himself used it, and several later Indian mathematicians and even the Arabs adopted it. The conjecture

that Aryabhatta's value of π is of Greek origin is critically examined and is found to be without foundation.

Aryabhatta discovered this value independently and also realised that π is an irrational number. He had the Indian

background, no doubt, but excelled all his predecessors in evaluating π. Thus the credit of discovering this exact

value of π may be ascribed to the celebrated mathematician, Aryabhatta .

In a fitting tribute to this great personality, the Government of India named its first satellite as

Aryabhatta. It was lauchaed by Saviet Union on 19 April 1975 from Kapustin Yer Using a Cosmos -3M

launch vehicle. It was built by Indian space Resourch Organization (ISRO) to gain expriancein building and

oprating satellite in space.


LHPL is grateful for the above contents from various sources.