Elaine Krajenke Ellison

artist
West Lafayette Community Schools, Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

An appreciation and demystification of mathematics is a common thread that runs through my art. Drawing, bronze, painting, glass and photography were mediums I had investigated before 1980. After 1980, I settled on fabric to tell my mathematical stories. The topics I have quilted include early mathematics from 2,000 B.C.E. to mathematics of the present time. During the last 40 years, I have generated 66 quilts. Most of the quilts are sewn by hand. Very recently I made a book of the all the mathematical quilts. This book titled "4,000 years of Mathematics in Quilts" shows quilts from each time period. The most recent quilt that was added to this collection is "Baudhayana" from 800 B.C.E.


Baudhayana
160 x 120 cm
100% cotton fabric
2020
Despite developing quite independently of Chinese (and probably also of Babylonian mathematics), some very advanced mathematical discoveries were made at a very early time in India. As early as the 8th Century B.C.E., long before Pythagoras, a text known as the "Sulba Sutras" listed several simple Pythagorean triples, as well as a statement of the simplified theorem for the sides of a square and for a rectangle. Baudhayana's calculation for the square root of two is a very close approximation for the value of the square root of two:
\[ \sqrt{2}\approx 1+\frac{1}{3}+\frac{1}{3\cdot 4} - \frac{1}{3\cdot 4\cdot 34} = \frac{577}{408}= 1.414215686\ldots \]
is correct to 5 decimal places.