(circa 1250 – 1315)

Regarding intellectualism, Zhu Shijie was fluid, thorough and versatile. He is without question one of the greatest mathematicians to come out of China. His exploits on Multivariate Polynomials remain till this day, a glowing firework. The same goes for his methods of solving Linear Equations: by reducing the matrix coefficients. For two decades or so, Zhu traveled far and wide across China (including its adjoining territories). In the process he mentored and tutored uncountable scholars, who in turn, helped to advance Chinese mathematics. His famous books: Suanxue Qimeng (An Introduction to Mathematical Studies, published around 1299 for beginners), and the Siyuan Yujian (The True Reflections of the Four Unknowns, published in 1303 for advanced learners), refined and extended the scope of the centuries-long acclaimed Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. Both of these books became so popular that China’s neighbors (especially the Koreans, the Japanese and the Persians) incorporated them into their syllabuses. Their high standards alongside elaborate illustrations made them the most sought-after science bestsellers of their generation. Centuries later, several mathematicians including Blaise Pascal and William Horner, would gain fame just by advancing a few aspects of Zhu Shijie’s methodologies. Apart from mentoring scholars during his 20-year sojourns, Zhu succeeded in unifying the traditional math methods of northern and southern China: by harnessing the bests of both regions. Although he is remembered as a top-tier mathematician whose indelible footprints remain in the sands of time, he is equally extolled for remarkable exploits in geography, geology, surveying, architecture and agriculture.


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