How or why are Lilliputians known as good mathematicians?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shortly after Lemuel Gulliver arrives on the shores of Lilliput, the six-inch citizens tie him down with ropes while he is sleeping. When Gulliver awakens, he is initially shot with tiny arrows before the Lilliputians feed him and introduce him to their Emperor. The Emperor decides that Gulliver must remain a prisoner and be carried to their capital city. Gulliver then mentions that the Lilliputians are the "most excellent mathematicians" and have perfected the art of mechanics. Gulliver then proceeds to explain the ingenious machine that over five hundred Lilliputian engineers have designed to carry him to the capital city. Gulliver mentions that the wooden frame was over seven feet long and four feet wide and had twenty-two wheels. Over nine hundred of the strongest Lilliputians were employed to pull the carriage with Gulliver strapped on top of it to the city. The enormity of the project and the efficiency with which the Lilliputians created this engineering marvel led to Gulliver's assessment that they were the "most excellent mathematicians."

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gulliver describes the Lilliputians as "most excellent Mathematicians" because they have constructed machines that are capable of carrying huge trees and performing other great feats.  They use these machines to build giant ships called Men of War that are some nine feet long (huge, considering that each Lilliputian is only six inches tall).  It is through the use of such a machine that they manage to transport Gulliver, a human man who is six feet tall, from the beach to their town.  It takes nine hundred of the strongest Lilliputian men three hours to raise and sling him into the machine, where they tie him down again.  Then, fifteen hundred of the emperor's horses drag both the machine and Gulliver the half mile to town.  The precise calculations required to complete such an endeavor is quite impressive to Gulliver, and he attributes their ability to do so to their excellent mathematical skills.