Trigonometry in Indian Mathematics
Trigonometry offers one of the most remarkable examples of transmission of the exact sciences in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Originating in Greece, it was transmitted to India and, with several modifications, passed into the Islamic world. After further development it found its way to medieval Europe.
The very term “sine” illustrates the process of transmission. The Greek word for “chord” (εύθεîα, literally “a straight line [subtending an arc]”) was translated into Sanskrit as jīva or jyā (“string of a bow”) from the similarity of its appearance. The former word was phonetically translated into Arabic as jyb, which was vocalized as jayb (meaning “fold” in Arabic), and this was again translated into Latin as sinus, an equivalent to the English sine.
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