Although Qin Jiushao was born in Ziyang, Sichuan, his family came from Shandong province. He is regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians in Chinese history. This is especially remarkable due to the fact that Qin did not devote his life to mathematics. He was accomplished in many other fields and held a series of bureaucratic positions in several Chinese provinces.
Qin wrote Shùshū Jiǔzhāng (“Mathematical Treatise in Nine Sections”) in 1247 CE. This treatise covered a variety of topics including indeterminate equations and the numerical solution of certain polynomial equations up to 10th order, as well as discussions on military matters and surveying. In the treatise Qin included a general form of the Chinese remainder theorem that used Da yan shu (大衍术) or algorithms to solve it. In geometry, he discovered “Qin Jiushao's formula” for finding the area of a triangle from the given lengths of three sides. This formula is the same as Heron’s formula, proved by Heron of Alexandria about 60 BCE, though knowledge of the formula may go back to Archimedes.
Qin recorded the earliest explanation of how Chinese calendar experts calculated astronomical data according to the timing of the winter solstice. Among his accomplishments are the introduction techniques for solving certain types of algebraic equations using a numerical algorithm (equivalent to the 19th century Horner's method) and for finding sums of arithmetic series. He also introduced the use of the zero symbol into written Chinese mathematics.
After he completed his work on mathematics, he ventured into politics. As a government official he was boastful, corrupt, and was accused of bribery and of poisoning his enemies. As a result he was relieved of his duties multiple times. Yet in spite of these problems he managed to become very wealthy (Katz, 1993).
- Shushu Jiuzhang (Mathematical Treatise in Nine Sections) (1247)
- Guo, Shuchun. Encyclopedia of China (Mathematics Volume), 1st ed.
- Qin Jiushao, . (Chinese History Timeline), 2007.
- Ulrich Libbrecht: Chinese Mathematics in the Thirteenth Century (The Shu-Shu-Chiu-Chang of Chin Chiu shao) Dover Publication ISBN 0-486-44619-0
- Katz, Victor J. "A history of mathematics: an introduction." New York (1993).
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Qin Jiushao", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- Simon Fraser University biography for “Qin Jiushao”