Its ancestors were acclaimed in the Qiu district (today in Laiyuan, province of Hebei). To flee the devastations of the war, the grandfather of Zu Chongzhi Zu Chang moved Hebei, in the north of the China, towards the south of the river Yangzi, belonging to the massive movement of population during the Dynastie Jin. Zu Chang, one moment, taken the post of “Minister for great work” (Dàjiàngqīn) with the Dynasty of Song (420-479) and was in load of the construction projects of the government. The father of Zu Chongzhi was also used for the court and was largely respected for his scholarship.
Zu Chongzhi was born in 429 in Jiankang (today Nankin). Its family was historically implied in astronomical research, and thus, when he was child, Zu Chongzhi was exposed to the Mathématiques and the Astronomie. When he was still a child, its talent gave him a great reputation. When the Empereur Xiaowu heard it, it was sent to an academy, “Huálín Xuéshěng”, to continue research. In 461 with Nanxu (today Zhenjiang in the Jiangsu) it was engaged to work at the office of the local governor.
Its performances include the Calendrier Daming introduces in 465 and derived two approximations from them from π, 355/113 (密率, Milu) and 22/7 (约率, Yuelu).
With his son, he discovered the principle of Cavalieri more than 1000 years before this last. Certain mathematicians thus calls it “the Zu principle”.
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