Sinhala numerals were used in the Kandyan convention signed between Kandyan chieftains and the British governor in 1815. This is revealed in the newest book published by the Strategic Communications Unit, Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) that was launched at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies, 24, Horton Place Colombo 7 on Friday (23 October).
Fruition of extensive research initiated by ICTA entitled "Numerations in the Sinhala Language" authored by Harsha Wijayawardhana - Head Software Development Unit, School of Computing, University of Colombo and edited by Aruni Goonetilleke Programme Manager- Information Infrastructure, ICTA, the 144-page book complete with the English and Sinhala versions with about 80 black and white and colour illustrations of inscriptions etc provides the beginning of a long journey into the world of Sinhala mathematics and Sinhala writing. One of the highlights of the book consists in the photographs of the second and third pages of the Kandyan convention where the reader can clearly see the Sinhala numeral one, two and three.
In a succinct review of the book Professor Emeritus, University of Colombo and Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos J. B. Disanayaka says: “No one knew that the Sinhalese numerals had a zero, until Harsha Wijayawardhana told us so. He spent months amidst ruins in our lost cities, museums and libraries to prove beyond doubt, that the Sinhalese had created a zero, an event that marks a crucial turning point in the history of Sinhala mathematics, when even the Romans could not think of a zero.”
Introducing the book at the launch ICTA Chief Operating Officer Reshan Dewapura said that IT could protect a language and make sure that it was disseminated. ICTA chairman, Prof. P. W. Epasinghe, ICTA's Local Language Working Group Chairman Dr. R. B. Ekanayaka, Prof. Dilan Perera of the University of Moratuwa, and a large number of academicians and well wishers were among those who participated in the occasion. ICTA's Programme Director Re-Engineering Government Wasantha Deshapriya proposing the vote of thanks reminisced the history of the research that had resulted in the book beginning from the origin of the thinking on the need of the research during the tenure of office as Chairman of ICTA by Prof. V. K. Samaranayake up to the time of the launch of the book and thanked all involved.