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The History of Mathematics

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(Nominated in the category of Children’s/Young Adult Writing for the REC-VoW Book Awards, 2019)

Excerpts from an interview with Archana Sarat

By SHWETA KAPOOR

Your book is a series of really interesting stories filled with amazing quirky characters. Which character and story would you say are your favourite? That is such a difficult choice! How do I choose between Ipiko and Akkad?

Ipiko was the first fictional character I met while working on this book. He was a prehistoric man who was the first to start writing numbers because of necessity rather than fashion. I met Akkad towards the end of the book. He was this crazy pompous man from a faraway civilization sailing into our beloved Harappa expecting crude barbarians. Was he surprised! Aditi and her father’s character are modelled on my sons and their father. My husband takes tremendous efforts to make my sons interested in their subjects, just like Aditi’s father. Apart from these fictional characters, while extensively researching for the book, I found a new love for the famous mathematicians of yester years— Hypatia, Euclid, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Hippasus, Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Brahmagupta. I came to understand their dedication, persistence, perseverance, unadulterated love for the subject and their passion to propagate their knowledge. I have tried through fictionalisation to convey the grandeur of their endeavours to my readers. Euclid’s story proves that Maths often requires diligence and dedication. Do you think that today, Maths has just become a subject of repetitive problem solving rather than a deep, detailed and enhanced learning of its workings? Mathematics has always evoked extreme passions. On one hand, you have students who love the subject and on the other, you have those who can’t bear it. I would blame our examination system for this. All sciences, including mathematics, are to be meant to be enjoyably learnt, in order to understand and appreciate the world around us. Sadly, we are more focussed on scoring marks and joining the rat race. What are some great, fun maths books that you would recommend our readers? Also, are you planning to write a series for your book? If so, when are the next books releasing? As a child, I’ve enjoyed Shakuntala Devi’s math puzzle books. Now days, as a family, we enjoy Martin Gardner’s books on mathematical and logic puzzles. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any book that introduces the history of mathematics to children, especially India’s contribution to the same. This was the reason why I wrote my book. It was only when I started researching on this subject that I realised it was too vast to be covered in a single book. This book will be a series and I will also explore the history and growth of other subjects and India’s contribution to them in the upcoming books. The next two books in the series will be released in 2020.

ARCHANA SARAT is an Author, Poet and Screenwriter for the last fifteen years. She shuttles between Chennai and Mumbai and loves both cities passionately. Her works have been published in various popular newspapers, magazines and anthologies like The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Free Press Journal (Sunday Literary Section), The SEBI and Corporate Laws Journal, The CA Newsletter, Me Magazine, the Science Reporter, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Caesurae, and many more. In her latest book, The History of Mathematics, which is a collection of 26 short stories about the evolution of mathematics, Archana combines her love for working with numbers with her love for working with children. She has conducted Creative Writing workshops for children at Children’s Academy, Podar International School, Billabong High International School, Nirmala College and many other educational institutions. You can connect with her at ww.archana sarat.com