Math was Never Invented!
We are quite sure that there have been many of us, who in our school days, wanted to go back in time and prevent the invention of math or erase it off history. Just imagine how easy life would have been then! But on a serious note, removing the existence or invention of math, even if the time-travel machine existed, would have been impossible. It is simply because, unlike the computer or the bulb, mathematics was never really invented.
It was just discovered and that too by not one but many people. We all are aware that math encompasses various fields of study. Hence we cannot attribute its discovery to just one person. You will be surprised to know that thousands of people contributed to the development of mathematics over thousands of years.
When did it All Start?
There is no absolute answer to when and where math was discovered for the first time. However, we can make our assumptions on the various possibilities from where mathematics got its Start. For instance, let’s travel all the way back to the pre-historic people who gathered their food. The basic task of picking berries might have led them to use math. Splitting the berries equally, keeping a count of how many berries are left or how many have they eaten- all these activities do require math.
Maybe that is how they even came up with the fundamental units of measurement. We can only assume and put up vague ideas on how the first numbers, units of measure, calculations, and counting came into existence.
Thank the Early Men!
Although we are pretty sure that pre-historic beings were not very advanced with their arithmetic, they definitely used division to divide the berries among each other, subtraction to count the number of berries they have eaten, and so on. It was a discovery and not an invention, born out of the necessity to survive and make daily life more manageable by mathematical principles. It is probably through these early learning tactics that the advanced fields of modern-day mathematics, such as trigonometry, calculus, geometry, and algebra, were born.
What do the Scientists Say?
As many mathematical discoveries were born out of necessity, scientists obviously believe that most of the basic mathematical operations such as multiplication, addition, and so on came into use some thousands of years ago across various regions at the same time. The areas include India, China, Egypt, as well as Mesopotamia. The oldest clay tablet with mathematics was found in Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years back.
Egyptian papyruses are regarded as the oldest written texts of mathematics. As these societies are among the oldest on Earth, it does make sense that these would have been among the first to discover mathematics fundamentals.
The Development of Mathematics
We need to go back to 2,500 years to trace the more advanced forms of Mathematics. If we look at Greece of that time, we will see ancient mathematician Pythagoras raising questions regarding the sides of a right-angled triangle. His questioning, testing, and research resulted in a fundamental understanding of triangles, called the Pythagorean Theorem that we study in today’s time.
As per most experts, during this time in ancient Greece, math turned into an organized science for the first time. It happened some 2,500 years ago. Ever science, scientists, and mathematicians worldwide have come up with mathematical discoveries for building upon other mathematicians’ work. They are continually enhancing our understanding of math and its relationship to the world as a whole. (See Who Invented the High Five?)