A Curious Approach to Trigonometry

Saturday, 28th April 2012 | 7:00 pm

Put yourself in the shoes of a medieval astronomer as tabla maestro and math teacher, Yousuf Kerai takes us on an intriguing and stimulating mathematical journey.

Yousuf KeraiDid you ever struggle with “cos” and “tan” in math class? Did you ever wonder why or how your calculator spat out strange values when you entered a number and pressed the “sin” button? Believe it or not, the story began in ancient Greece when a few men looked up at the stars. Simultaneous star-gazing and tabular work occurred in India as well, and the works of these two cultures were taken forward by the mathematicians of the Medieval Islamic period.

The 12th-century mathematician, Ibn Yahya al-Maghribi al-Samaw’al, now better known for his algebra, wrote the extensive treatise, Exposure of the Errors of the Astronomers. This fascinating under-studied work, containing criticisms of a number of astronomers, provides an interesting study of debates over the proper practice of medieval astronomy. In particular, al-Samaw’al stresses consistency and purity of method. One of his objections is to the methods that had been used to determine the geometrically unattainable sine of one degree in Ptolemy’s Almagest as well as in later Muslim works. To avoid this seemingly unavoidable problem, al-Samaw’al presents an alternate trigonometric table.

Yousuf Kerai will present al-Samaw’al’s work by first providing a brief trigonometry lesson through the medieval context and then elucidating al-Samaw’al’s suggestions. In addition, the role of such historical contexts within the high school classroom will also be discussed.

Yousuf has promised that, unlike math class at school, you will not be bored. Bring along some blank sheets of paper, a pencil, an eraser, a clipboard, and an open mind 🙂

Date: Saturday, 28th April, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Minimum Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously.
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
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Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations.

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