Sun Zi (mathematician)

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Sun Zi , also Sunzi or Sun Tzu, was a Chinese mathematician of whom little more is known than his treatise Sunzi Suanjing .

The dating of Sun Zi is uncertain, but today it is mostly placed between the 3rd and 5th centuries. The Chinese philologist Dai Zhen (1724–1777) stated that he was not born before 50 BC. BC could have lived. Alexander Wylie dated it to the 3rd century AD. L. Wang dated it to after 473 AD due to the measurement and control system, but this may also be the date of the final compilation of older writings. In a bibliography from 636 it is listed with only two chapters, but the text that has survived today has three. Jean-Claude Martzloff dates the text to the 5th century.

The first chapter of Sunzi Suanjing deals with measurement systems and arithmetic (division, multiplication, square root) with auxiliary devices made of sticks and abacus. Chapter Two contains 28 and Chapter Three 36 problems similar, albeit simpler than in the older Jiu Zhang Suanshu (Nine Chapters of Arithmetic), for example about fractions, area and volume calculation.

Problem 26 in Chapter 3 is solved with the Chinese remainder of the sentence and is its oldest written mention. His method of determining the roots differs from the procedure in Jiu Zhang Suanshu.

Since he is not mentioned in the official history books - even if his book is definitely mentioned - he cannot have had an outstanding official position or social position. He may have been a Buddhist because Problem 4 of Chapter 3 mentions a Buddhist sutra.

He should not be confused with the military strategist Sunzi .


  • Jean-Claude Martzloff: A history of chinese mathematics. Springer 1997.
  • KS Shen: Historical development of the Chinese remainder theorem. In: Archive for History of Exact Sciences . 38: 285-305 (1988).
  • L. Wang: The date of the Sunzi suanjing and the Chinese remainder theorem. In: Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference of History of Science , 1962 (Paris 1964), pp. 489-492.

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