Plaudit for Kerala

August 17, 2007

Scholars in southwestern India discovered one of the basic components of calculus hundreds of years ahead of Sir Isaac Newton, academics from Exeter and Manchester universities have claimed.

The Kerala School identified the "infinite series" around 1350, according to George Gheverghese Joseph of Manchester and Dennis Almeida of Exeter.

Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz have been credited with the discovery, but may have had it passed on to them as a result of Jesuit missionaries visiting India in the 15th century, the pair argue.

"The brilliance of Newton's work at the end of the 17th century stands undiminished," said Dr Joseph.

"But other names from the Kerala School, notably Madhava and Nilakantha, should stand shoulder to shoulder with him."

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