Thymaridas

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Thymaridas of Paros (Greek : Θυμαρίδας; c. 400 – c. 350 BCE) was an ancient Greek mathematician and Pythagorean noted for his work on prime numbers and simultaneous linear equations.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3500 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Pythagoreanism system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers

Pythagoreanism originated in the 6th century BC, based on the teachings and beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras established the first Pythagorean community in Crotone, Italy. Early Pythagorean communities spread throughout Magna Graecia.

Contents

Life and work

Although little is known about the life of Thymaridas, it is believed that he was a rich man who fell into poverty. It is said that Thestor of Poseidonia traveled to Paros in order to help Thymaridas with the money that was collected for him.

Paros Place in Greece

Paros is a Greek island in the central Aegean Sea. One of the Cyclades island group, it lies to the west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about 8 kilometres wide. It lies approximately 150 km south-east of Piraeus. The Municipality of Paros includes numerous uninhabited offshore islets totaling 196.308 square kilometres (75.795 sq mi) of land. Its nearest neighbor is the municipality of Antiparos, which lies to its southwest. In ancient Greece, the city-state of Paros was located on the island.

Iamblichus states that Thymaridas called prime numbers "rectilinear" since they can only be represented on a one-dimensional line. Non-prime numbers, on the other hand, can be represented on a two-dimensional plane as a rectangle with sides that, when multiplied, produce the non-prime number in question. He further called the number one a "limiting quantity".

Iamblichus Syrian philosopher

Iamblichus was a Syrian Neoplatonist philosopher of Arab origin. He determined the direction that would later be taken by Neoplatonic philosophy. He was also the biographer of Pythagoras, a Greek mystic, philosopher and mathematician.

Prime number Integer greater than 1 that has no positive integer divisors other than itself and 1

A prime number is a natural number greater than 1 that cannot be formed by multiplying two smaller natural numbers. A natural number greater than 1 that is not prime is called a composite number. For example, 5 is prime because the only ways of writing it as a product, 1 × 5 or 5 × 1, involve 5 itself. However, 6 is composite because it is the product of two numbers that are both smaller than 6. Primes are central in number theory because of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic: every natural number greater than 1 is either a prime itself or can be factorized as a product of primes that is unique up to their order.

Iamblichus in his comments to Introductio arithmetica states that Thymaridas also worked with simultaneous linear equations. [1] In particular, he created the then famous rule that was known as the "bloom of Thymaridas" or as the "flower of Thymaridas", which states that:

<i>Introduction to Arithmetic</i> book by Nicomachus

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If the sum of n quantities be given, and also the sum of every pair containing a particular quantity, then this particular quantity is equal to 1/(n + 2) [this is a typo in Flegg's book - the denominator should be n-2 to match the math below] of the difference between the sums of these pairs and the first given sum. [2]

or using modern notation, the solution of the following system of n linear equations in n unknowns, [1]

is given by

Iamblichus goes on to describe how some systems of linear equations that are not in this form can be placed into this form. [1]

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References

Citations and footnotes

  1. 1 2 3 Heath (1981). "The ('Bloom') of Thymaridas". A History of Greek Mathematics . pp.  94–96. Thymaridas of Paros, an ancient Pythagorean already mentioned (p. 69), was the author of a rule for solving a certain set of n simultaneous simple equations connecting n unknown quantities. The rule was evidently well known, for it was called by the special name [...] the 'flower' or 'bloom' of Thymaridas. [...] The rule is very obscurely worded , but it states in effect that, if we have the following n equations connecting n unknown quantities x, x1, x2 ... xn−1, namely [...] Iamblichus, our informant on this subject, goes on to show that other types of equations can be reduced to this, so that the rule does not 'leave us in the lurch' in those cases either.
  2. Flegg (1983). "Unknown Numbers". Numbers: Their History and Meaning . pp.  205. Thymaridas (fourth century) is said to have had this rule for solving a particular set of n linear equations in n unknowns:
    If the sum of n quantities be given, and also the sum of every pair containing a particular quantity, then this particular quantity is equal to 1/(n + 2) of the difference between the sums of these pairs and the first given sum.