Zhu Shijie

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Zhu Shijie (simplified Chinese: 朱世杰; traditional Chinese: 朱世傑; pinyin: Zhū Shìjié; Wade–Giles: Chu Shih-chieh, fl thirteenth century), courtesy name Hanqing (汉卿), pseudonym Songting (松庭), was one of the greatest Chinese mathematicians lived during the Yuan Dynasty.

Zhu was born close to today's Beijing. Two of his mathematical works have survived. Introduction to Computational Studies (算学启蒙, Suanxue qimeng), written in 1299, is an elementary textbook on mathematics. Zhu included four illustrative problems to explain operations in arithmetic and algebra, adding 284 further problems as exercises. This book also showed how to measure different two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional solids. The Introduction had an important influence on the development of mathematics in Japan. The book was once lost in China until a copy of the book was made from a Korean source from a reprinted edition of 1660.

Zhu's second book, Jade Mirror of the Four Unknowns (四元玉鉴, Siyuan yujian), written in 1303, is his most important work. With this book, Zhu brought Chinese algebra to its highest level. The first four of the 288 problems for solution illustrate his method of the four unknowns. He shows how to convert a problem stated verbally into a system of polynomial equations (up to 14th order), and then how to reduce the system to a single polynomial equation in one unknown, which he solves by Southern Song dynasty mathematician Qin Jiushao's "Ling long kai fang" method published in Shùshū Jiǔzhāng (“Mathematical Treatise in Nine Sections”) in 1247 (more than 570 years before English mathematician William Horner's method using synthetic division). To do this, he makes use of the Pascal triangle, which he labels as the diagram of an ancient method first discovered by Jia Xian before 1050. The final equation and one of its solutions is given for each of the 288 problems. Zhu also found square and cube roots by solving quadratic and cubic equations, and added to the understanding of series and progressions, classifying them according to the coefficients of the Pascal triangle. He also showed how to solve systems of linear equations be reducing the matrix of their coefficents to diagonal form. His methods pre-date Blaise Pascal, William Horner, and modern matrix methods by many centuries. The preface of the book describes how Zhu travelled around China for 20 years as a teacher of mathematics.

References

  • Yoshio Mikami Development of Mathematics in China and Japan, Chapter 14 Chu Shih-chieh p89-98. 1913 Leipzig. Library of Congress catalog card number 61-13497.
  • Du, Shiran, "Zhu Shijie". Encyclopedia of China (Mathematics Edition), 1st ed.
  • LAM Lay-yong: Chu shih-chieh's Suan hsüeh ch'i-meng, Archive for the history of sciences, Vol 21, Berlin, 1970.
  • Guo Shuchun, Chen Zaixin, Guo Jinhai, Jade mirror of the Four Unknonwns, Liaoning education Press, China, 2006. ISBN 7-5382-6923-1
  • Hoe, J.: The jade morror of the four unknowns, Mingming Bookroom, New Zealand, 2007. ISBN 1-877209-14-7
  • Hoe, J.: Les systèmes d'équations polynômes dans le Siyuan Yujian (1303), Paris, Collège de France (Mémoires de l'Institut des Hautes Etudes Chineoises, Vol VI),1977.
  • MARTZLOFF, J-C.: A history of Chinese Mathematics, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1997.
  • GRATTAN-GUINNESS, I.: The Norton History of the Mathematical Sciences, 1998.
  • KONANTZ, E.L.:The Precious Mirror of the Four Elements, China journal of Science and Arts, Vol 2, No 4, 1924.
  • HO Peng-Yoke: Article on Chu Shih-chieh in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York, 1970.hi

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