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Eyes to the right


Donald A Wroe (NCE 28 November) quotes wise words from the late Fulton Lee that maths was a language and that you needed that language, rather than the maths itself, to solve problems.

To bring fun back into the language it is up to us to make the language more flowery so that we do not lose its power to solve engineering and scientific problems. Our forefathers were able to do it and I refer you to Bhaskara Acharya's book 'Lilavati' (AD 598) and his style of posing the problem.

His question was 'O beautiful girl with shining eyes! Tell me what is that number which when multiplied by three then increased by three-quarters of the product, then divided by seven, then decreased by onethird of the quotient, the result when multiplied by itself, then decreased by 52, gives after extraction of the square root, addition of eight and division by 10, the result - two' Compare this with one of the questions contained in 'Crisis in maths' (NCE 21 November) - Solve the simultaneous equations: 2x - y = -1; xy + y = 3 Which one would attract anybody's beloved with shining eyes to answer. I do not know about yours but I am certain mine would not be able to resist the caressing style of Bhaskara.

Iqbal Singh Manhas, Babtie Group, School Green, Shinfield, Reading.

Iqbal. manhas@Babtie. co

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