Numerals [Was: Western propoganda]

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Neil Ozman

Sep 1, 2002, 4:12:37 AM9/1/02

Number products in even tens (such as the number 20 or 30) leave the first
right hand column empty (void). When expert abacus users had no abacus
available to them, they could remember and visualize the operation of the
abacus so clearly that all they needed to know was the content of each
column in order to develop any multiplication or division. They then
invented symbols for the content of each column to replace drawing a picture
of the number of beads. Having developed symbols to express the content of
each column, they had to invent a symbol for the numberless content of the
empty column -- that symbol came to be known to the Hindus as "sunya", and
sunya later became "sifr" in Arabic; "cifra" in Roman; and finally "cipher"
in English.

Jeffrey Goldberg <{$news}$> wrote in message
> > I thought the major advance was the discovery or rediscovery of the
> > concept of zero.
> Yes and no. The crucial invention is that position within the written
> number has a consistent and coherent meaning. That is the one's place, the
> ten's place, the hundred's place, etc. A zero digit is needed for that.
> But it is the semantics of the place based representation that is the
> advantage. It means that algorithms based directly on the representations
> (like "long division") become easy.
> In Arabic, which reads right from left, the right most digit is the
> one's place assending toward the left (as in English). The actual arabic
> digits are deceptively similar to the ones we use, but can be really
> misleading.
> -j
> --
> Jeffrey Goldberg
> Relativism is the triumph of authority over truth, convention over
> I rarely read top-posted, over-quoting or HTML postings.

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