What is Math?
“The science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects.”1
Who Invented Math?
Whether we realize it or not, math is a part of practically everything we do in today’s world. Our mobile phones, computers, tablets, the majority of our modes of transportation, and even our buildings, have or use math. Math has been used by even the oldest and most primitive cultures since the beginning of recorded history, and it has been at the forefront of just about every civilized society. The discovery of math cannot be credited to a single person because it is one of the most significant branches of research and involves numerous studies over the years.
The need for math increases with the complexity of society. Simple counting skills were necessary for primitive tribes, but they also used math to calculate the sun’s position and the physics of hunting. Even though it is likely that prehistoric people did not progress very far in their mathematical understanding, certain mathematical principles were probably discovered or created out of necessity rather than being invented. Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry could all be examples of more complex areas of math that have been eventually influenced by early learning.1 ,2
However, math can only be said to have begun when some record of the computation was kept and, as a result, some representation of numbers took place. Number systems that date back to antiquity are thought to be the earliest examples of complex, rigorous math.
Scientists believe that many basic mathematical operations, such as addition and subtraction, first appeared thousands of years ago in numerous locations simultaneously, including China, India, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt. This is because multiple mathematical inventions were made as a consequence of necessity.1 , 3 , 4
We can’t really say that one person is to be officially named the inventor of math because math is so vast and is used in so many different types of studies! The field gradually developed over thousands of years, with the help of many knowledgeable people! Almost every civilization’s history contains traces of math. The advancement of the population at the time coincided with an increase in the number of mathematical discoveries.
Was Math an Invention or a Discovery?
Two plus two equals four, and there are an infinite number of prime numbers, which are realities that were true even before mathematicians discovered them. They are, therefore, discoveries, but they were made with the aid of mathematically developed methods. For instance, according to the most well-known Thales theorem, “If you draw a line parallel to one side of a triangle and intersect the other two sides at distinct points, then the other two sides will be split at the same ratio.” 5 It has long been known that this is true on a level surface, but Thales of Miletus is credited with discovering it. Similar truths about math have also been found, but creating proof to support them is necessary.
Some schools of thought also believe mathematical concepts as universal languages— they can describe real-world phenomena. The natural environment is abundant with such examples of pure math.For instance, the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ration are commonly found in nature. 6
Therefore, there is no definitive answer for who actually invented math. Over many millennia, it was discovered by many people. Since the dawn of time, new mathematical understandings have sparked scientific and mathematical inquiry, advancing our knowledge of math and how it relates to the physical world. Without considering the questions, Who invented math? Was it created, or did someone discover it?, which is beyond most people’s understanding, the solutions developed from the processes, however, have undoubtedly impacted and enhanced the lives of many.
If you found this article intriguing, you can explore various such fascinating topics on math at BYJU’s FutureSchool Blog.
- mathematics | Definition, History, & Importance | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/science/mathematics
- Who Exactly Invented Math? (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://interestingengineering.com/science/who-exactly-invented-math
- History Of Mathematics : Who first invented mathematics? (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.rebellionresearch.com/history-of-mathematics-who-first-invented-mathematics-was-math-created-or-discovered
- Flagg, M., Marks, M., & Marsala, J. (n.d.). Place Value Systems of Numeration – Section 1.3 – Math 2303, Concepts in Algebra. https://online.math.uh.edu/Math2303-unpaid/ch1/s13/2303-Section-13.pdf
- Basic Proportionality Theorem(BPT) – Algebra-calculators.com. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://algebra-calculators.com/basic-proportionality-theorembpt/
- Did Humans Invent Mathematics, or Is It a Fundamental Part of Existence? : ScienceAlert. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.sciencealert.com/was-math-always-here-wild-new-paper-puts-spin-on-an-ancient-pythagorean-idea