18 May 2016
Pāṇini or Panini, was a Vyākaraṇin from the early mahajanapada era of ancient India. He was born in Pushkalavati, Gandhara (on the outskirts of modern-day Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).
Pāṇini is known for his Sanskrit grammar, particularly for his formulation of the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology, syntax and semantics in the grammar known asAṣṭādhyāyī (meaning "eight chapters"), the foundational text of the grammatical branch of the Vedanga, the auxiliary scholarly disciplines of the historical Vedic religion.
Panini’s rules are said to be perfect – that is, they perfectly describe the Sanskrit morphology, and are regarded as so clear that computer scientists have made use of them to teach computers to understand Sanskrit. Panini uses metarules, transformations, and recursion in such sophistication that his grammar has the computing power equivalent to a Turing machine. In this sense Panini may be considered the father of computing machines. As such Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language theory used to specify computer languages. It is remarkable that concepts, which are fundamental to today’s theoretical computer science, should have their origin with an Indian genius around 2500 years ago.