the koti

Thrasher, Allen athr at LOC.GOV
Fri Nov 19 15:21:14 UTC 2010

The English translation of the 1st ed. of Ifrah's work is From one to zero : a universal history of numbers, published by Viking and Penguin in 1985.  That of the expanded 2nd ed. is The universal history of numbers : from prehistory to the invention of the computer, published in London by Harvill (1998) in 1 vol. and in New York by Wiley (2002) in 2 vols.

The book also includes, as I recall, an excellent cumulation of the various number-words (bhutasankhya), along with katapayadi etc.


-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] On Behalf Of mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2010 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] the koti

Dear Alf (and Randy),

In her _Mathematics in India_ (PUP), Kim Plofker (p. 14) cites Yajurveda 7.2.20 that gives a decimal progression running up to 10 to the 12th (a billion). Here, the term for ten million is not ko.ti, but arbuda, so pace M-W, ko.ti was not the highest in the old series, whatever that means. Unfortunately, Plofker's book does not seem to deal with number names in a systematic way, and I find no reference to the ko.ti in it. (Of course, Plofker's book is most useful and excellent on many other matters.)

The designations for numbers in India are usefully tabulated in Georges Ifrah, Histoire universelle des Chiffres (there is an English trans. available, but I have only the original French), vol. 1, ch. 24 ("La civilisation indienne: berceau de la numérisation moderne"), pp. 940ff. ("Une culture atteinte par la 'folie' des grands nombres"). Ko.ti occurs here in many lists, and always, so far as I can see, meaning a "crore," 10 to the 7th.

Matthew T. Kapstein
Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies The University of Chicago Divinity School Directeur d'études Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

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