Reply to post: Re: "It is not 'better' than sin/cos/tan, it's simply a collection"

Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: "It is not 'better' than sin/cos/tan, it's simply a collection"

From the original article, which many of course didn't read...

"P322 is historically and mathematically significant because it is both the first trigonometric table and also the only trigonometric table that is precise. Irrational numbers and their approximations are seen as essential to classical metrical geometry, but here we have shown they are not actually necessary for trigonometry. If the dice of history had fallen a different way, and the deep mathematical understanding of the scribe who created P322 not been lost, then very possibly ratio-based trigonometry would have developed alongside our angle-based approach."

"The discovery of trigonometry is attributed to the ancient Greeks, but this needs to be reconsidered in light of the much earlier, computationally simpler and more precise Babylonian style of exact sexagesimal trigonometry. In addition to being historically significant, P322 also brings the founding assumptions of our own mathematical culture into perspective. Perhaps this different and simpler way of thinking has the potential to unlock improvements in science, engineering, and mathematics education today."

"The novel approach to trigonometry and geometrical problems encapsulated by P322 resonates with modern investigations centered around rational trigonometry both in the Euclidean and non-Euclidean settings"

What is important is not just the tables in the tablet itself - it's the way the table may have been computed, and the underlying assumptions.

It's also interesting the article refers to some Knuth's article - it looks he was also interested in Babylonian algorithms...

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