Catawba College Mathematics Professor Attends Meeting, Presents Paper
March 23, 2009
Dr. Paul Baker, a professor of mathematics at Catawba College, represented the College at the Mathematical Association of America Liaison's meeting at the MAA Southeastern Section Annual Meeting on March 13 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
While at the annual meeting, Dr. Baker organized and chaired a special session on the history of mathematics. During that special session, he presented a paper, "Exploring Mathematics from the Khmer Empire." The Khmer Empire flourished in Cambodia for over a thousand year and the Khmers built the largest temple complex in the world – Angkor Wat. The only surviving written records of the Khmer Empire are approximately 12,000 stone inscriptions from the temples. In the summer of 2008, the presenter searched translations of the inscriptions for evidence about the state of Khmer mathematics. Despite Arabian and Hindu claims, there is evidence – etched in stone – that the Khmers were the first to use the number Zero. Other features of ancient Khmer mathematics were also included in Dr. Baker’s presentation.