Friday, November 12, 2010

Ancient Indian Mathematics ; and the World Wide Web running out of IP addresses

Modern technologists have shown a remarkable lack of vision when envisaging the potential scope and spread of their innovations especially when dealing with numbers. Y2K, D10K etc, were manifestations of this malaise and now we come across the latest - the Internet may be in a danger of shut down as it runs out of IP addresses ("It sounds far-fetched, but a crisis with the potential to close off the Internet is imminent.").

How will my refrigerator talk to my toaster then? A big reason for running out of IP addresses is that almost every household device is Internet compatible now and has a unique IP address associated with it.

Juxtapose this against the logic of mathematicians of ancient India who had names for numbers as large as 10 to the power 17, yes 17

10 power 0      Eka
10 power 1      Dashah 
10 power 2      Shata
10 power 3      Sahasra
10 power 4      Ayuta
10 power 5      Laksha
10 power 6      Prayuta
10 power 7      Koti
10 power 8      Arbuda
10 power 9      Abja
10 power 10    Kharva
10 power 11    Nikharva
10 power 12    Mahapadma
10 power 13    Shankha
10 power 14    Jaladhi
10 power 15    Antya
10 power 16    Madhya
10 power 17    ParArdha.

Why? as early as 1st Century B.C.E. (perhaps even earlier) would they be wrapping their arms around such huge numbers baffles the imagination. 

The reasons were often mundane but can be well appreciated - like a prayer from Krishna Yajur Veda (4th Khanda, 4th Prashna)- a prayer and a wish for the wealth of cows to abound in large numbers, like millions and millions.  The counting of cows here goes by  hundreds, thousands, and thousands and millions of hundreds.

Now one can get an idea about the roots of a sense of exactitude even when things are nebulous - no , it's not God give me lots of cows but God give me a ParArdha cows!! ("..........parArdhashcemAme agna ishTakA dhenavassantu." - sanskrit)

So ye Gods of the Internet (aka "American Registry for Internet Numbers") move soon from the antiquated IP address of the type (system offering roughly 4.3 billion possible IP addresses) to the the ones which look like fe80:43e3:9095:02e5:0216:cbff:feb2:7474 (offering 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses......that should make the "cow counters" happy). In techspeak move from IPv4 to IPv6.

Now let me go back to counting sheep....or is it cows..sheep...cows...sheep.....zzzzz

Useful Resource: IPv4 / IPv6: The Bottom Line


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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