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On the Chinese Origin of the Galley Method of Arithmetical Division


Before 1600 the most common method of division used in Europe was the galley, batello, or scratch method, and this was still popular up to the end of the eighteenth century. This method is commonly supposed to be of Hindu origin, being based on a method found in India about the fourth century. It will be shown that the Hindu method is identical to the Chinese method of division (ch'u) mentioned in very early Chinese texts such as the Chiu Chang Suan Shu (Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art, c. first century a.d.). The earliest detailed description of this method is found in the Sun Tzŭ Suan Ching (The Mathematical Manual of Master Sun, third century a.d.).

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Datta B. & Singh A. N.History of Hindu Mathematics. India, 1962, part i.
Smith D. E.History of Mathematics. Boston, 1925, vol. ii.
Tzŭ Suninline-graphic (full name unknown). Sun Tzŭ Suan Ching inline-graphic (Sun Tzŭ's Mathematical Manual) Third century a.d.
Yen Liinline-graphicChung Kuo Suan Hsüeh Shih inline-graphic (A History of Chinese Mathematics), Shanghai, 1937.
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The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-for-the-history-of-science
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