Ancient mathematics

It is interesting to note the advances made in mathematics in ancient India.

It is well known that the zero was invented in ancient India. Much of the mathematics was developed for ritual purposes. The shulba sutra (rope manual) gives elaborate mathematical instructions on constructing altars to conduct sacrifices in.

Aryabhatta contributed much to the development of the mathematical tradition.

Facts vs rhetoric

In many disciplines, rhetoric or flowery language is not very crucial. Examples include the sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology etc. The reason appears to be that the arguments are based on facts, skepticism and physical evidence.

But when it comes to other disciplines related to human society and other complex systems, the arguments are not directly evidence-based. In many cases, the most persuasive argument with the best rhetoric wins.

Understanding use cases

In implementing any software, it is invaluable for a programmer to have a good understanding of the use cases for the software.

For this, having good communication with the customer is a good way to start. Also, the communication needs to be documented well.

Given a clear set of requirements, the programmer can go ahead and implement the software in a way which matches the needs of the customer.

Unblocking

Often in programming, one is stuck in some piece of code which does not seem to do what it is supposed to. On such occasions, there are some steps which can be typically useful:

  1. Talk to anyone about the issue. Even if the person is not a programmer, verbalizing the problem helps
  2. Try various things by changing the code and running tests in a trial and error manner
  3. Try a good old google search
  4. Check any reference books online or offline

Victims

Having a victim mentality is dangerous because it prevents one from learning useful lessons and skills which are crucial to survive and thrive in this world.

A victim mentality makes one wear rose-tinted glasses, thus seeing everything as an oppressive force.

In reality, in today’s modern world, some of the worst oppressive things are those people do to themselves. By viewing oneself as a victim, one makes oneself miserable.

The antidote to this seems to be to view oneself as an anti-victim or as the hero. It is just a matter of changing perspective.

Wisdom

As Krishna describes the man of wisdom, he explains the characteristics of such a person.

duḥkheṣhv-anudvigna-manāḥ sukheṣhu vigata-spṛihaḥ
vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhaḥ sthita-dhīr munir uchyate

This can be roughly translated to:

One whose mind remains undisturbed amidst misery, who does not crave for pleasure, and who is free from attachment, fear, and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom.

– Bhagavad Gita 2.56

Krishna indicated earlier that people commonly are heavily influenced by their nature and their specific daily situation. Above, the characteristics of a man of wisdom (a muni) are described.

Such a muni is not disturbed by misery and does not crave pleasure. He is also not perturbed by attachment, fear, and anger.

Of course, this standard is difficult to meet if taken absolutely. However, in spite of imperfections, one can practice regularly to achieve this in daily life.

Ancient art

The art and architecture of the ancients is something to be wondered about. The feeling of awe and wonder when visiting one of these ancient structures can only be understood by one who has experienced this. These structures have withstood the test of time for several centuries because they were built to last.

Also, the art works which have survived from those times appear beautiful and elaborate. All this appears to show that more people among the ancients focused more of their time and energy in thinking about art. This can be contrasted with the modern obsession with technology and mind-numbing “entertainment”.

Such an attitude was pervasive in most parts of the world and the results can still be seen today.

Simple things

In programming and in many other areas of life, we find ourselves facing one or the other problem in front of us.

Occam’s razor can be a useful tool in figuring out a solutions in both cases.

Occam’s razor suggests that the simplest route, making the fewest assumptions is the best approach to solving problems.

This approach can prove fruitful.

Practice

A stoic saying states in summary that “one always falls back to one’s level of practice”.

This statement applies both to physical and mental exercises.

Via physical exercise, one can build and increase stem cell count by lifting weights and sprinting.

Similarly, via mental exercises, one can strengthen the mind to be ready to face various situations.

Programmability

Programmability refers to the ability to control and operate a system using programs.

This has been one of the major areas of innovation during the last few decades.

We can now program various systems which are part of daily life. This appears to be the next stage of evolution following the digital transformation.

For example, phones and cars now run programs and programs in turn can control them.

The next step appears to be programming the devices which underlie the internet and web.