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# The history of numerals , from mynan to the arabic numeral system Essay Example

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## The history of numerals , from mynan to the arabic numeral system

The Egyptians followed suit and in the 3rd Century BC they came up with the similar system of numbers in the elephantine script which were also essentially like tally marks and in which the higher numbers were represented in groups of 3.Similarly in Europe in England they had the system of ‘Five Barred Gate’ which was quite similar to the ‘tally marks’ system like the afore-mentioned two systems but when powers of 5 were achieved the tally marks would be stricken out giving them the appearance of a ‘barred gate’ and hence the nomenclature. Consequently, the number 10 was represented by two such barred gates and so on. In New Guinea, the Elema tribal people had a different system altogether. They had nominated the parts of body with different numbers, for example the finger digits represented the numbers 1 to 10 and the right knee stood for the number 27 etc.As civilizations progressed there was felt a need to have an additive numeral system, where each character has a value independent of its position in its representation. The Greek and the Roman Numeral System was an example of this concept. The Greek adopted specific symbols where as the Romans used the alphabets of their script as numbers.And, almost all of us have come across Roman numbers in our lives. Some examples are given as follows: I-1, II-2, III-3, IV-4, 5-V, 6-VI, 10-X, 11-XI, 18-XVIII, 20-XX, 29-XXIX, 50-L, 75-LXXV, 100-C, 500-D, 1000-M etc.As one can guess, the problem felt with the positional numeral system was that it was very cumbersome to represent large numbers and esp. do mathematical calculations with them. Therefore, the quest to have a number system which could have had portable representation was still on. Gradually, humans began to realize that there was a need to have a number system with a set of digits which could represent almost any conceivable number. This led to the discovery of positional notation.The Mayans and the Incas were the first to have discovered this positional notation. They adopted a number system denoted by dots and bars. The place starting from right denoted the various notational places. The number could then by understand by suitable calculations (multiplication and addition). The Babylonians however had a very refined number system as compared to the Mayans/Incas. They had a number system which was till the scale of 60 starting from obviously 1. Any

REFERENCES

Docs.google.com (n.d.) Powered by Google Docs. [online] Available at: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:r116zVvEWrQJ:motivate.maths.org/conferences/conf67/HistoryNumbers.ppt+history+of+numbers&hl=en&gl=in&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiJXA-3qK9ivE6FgoPn2cCxVMWSVvn7pcsAEY0fszXyTVyPGNdLoJa36RWvBJCn5qAXr7LzyICbJmfkWCEHVgcBGThrbEMR-dgtIVgX2lDb5a5pqM7rECm7nJKqGcbL-Z25FsAP&sig=AHIEtbS34PWQaDpa-8o_ZXBJ166z0_KK6g [Accessed: 15 Apr 2012].

Home.c2i.net (n.d.) NUMBERS: THEIR HISTORY AND MEANING. [online] Available at: http://home.c2i.net/greaker/comenius/9899/indiannumerals/india.html [Accessed: 15 Apr 2012].

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• Pages: 8 (2000 words)
• Document Type: Essay
• Subject: Mathematics
• Level: Undergraduate
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