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# Decimal Notation

What is the decimal notation in the end?

Well, let's do a simple exercise with the example below with the digits 2,6,7 and 9 taken at random.

How many 1-digit numbers can you make with these digits? Write them down.
How many 2-digit numbers can you make with these digits? Write them down.
How many 3-digit numbers can you make with these digits? Write them down.
How many 4-digit numbers can you make with these digits? Write them down.
How many numbers did you make altogether?

Do you see? With just 4 symbols (look at them now like drawing), "2", "6", "7", "9" we could create so many other numbers!

Imagine you didn't know these symbols and would you use toothpicks to espress the same numbers! Or 58 different symbols to write them down!

The decimal notation is a way of espressing ALL numbers with just 10 simbols:

0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Each of the above symbols can have different meaning according to the position, the place value, which it holds, looking at numbers from left to right.

E.g. "9" can mean, nine, ninety, nine hundred, nine thousands and son on.

1614. The miraculous powers of modern calculation are
due to three inventions : the Arabic Notation, Decimal Fractions
and Logarithms. CAJORI, F.

History of Mathematics (New York, 1897),
p. 161.

source: Memorabilia mathematica; or, The philomath's quotation-book - Moritz, Robert Édouard, 1868-1940

The decimal notation was used for the first time in India (probably before the V century), then spread in the muslim world (Iranian, Uzbek, Middle-East, "mesopotamian", Bagdad-city and all other meaning which the term "arab" comprehend) and was then wrongly thought of being "arab".

For us in Europe and Western World, it all started by the "discovery" of the "arabic" notation in the late Middleages, by an Italian merchant travelling in the South Mediterranean with his son Leonardo Pisano, in the XII century (but "mathematical" contacts with the two cultures, the European and the "arab" one were much earlier, since the IX century).

(to be continued...)

from decimal notation back to the decimals webpage

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