Chui-chang suan-shu (1st Century AD)

Much ancient Chinese mathematical work is lost to us now. This is partly due to the passage of time and partly because of people like Emperor Ch’in Shih Huang Ti (245-210BC) who destroyed most of the existing books.

We do have one significant book the chui-chang suan-shu or Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Procedures. This was written during the Han period around the 1st century AD by an anonymous scholar.

The book seems to have gathered together all the existing mathematical achievements. It contains 246 questions and only answers are given, not the method of solving the problem. It has been suggested that it was written like this so it could be used as a textbook.

The problems are of a practical nature and look at things like taxation, agriculture, engineering and the properties of angles.

The work gives areas for a triangle, rectangle, trapezoid as well as dealing with double positives and the solution of simultaneous linear equations.

Many future Chinese mathematicians based their work on the text, the best probably written by Liu Han in 263AD.