lecture10 - CountingDevices .Withtheuse ofmoredurablemat

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HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS – LECTURE 10 – WEDNESDAY 11 TH OCTOBER Counting Devices In order to speed up the process of performing arithmetic calculations many different civilizations independently created counting boards which used sand spread on clay or wooden tablets. With the use of more durable materials such as marble and bronze, the Greeks and Romans improved on the early counting boards and developed the abacus , with parallel grooves in which pebbles could be placed to denote ones, tens, hundreds etc. Ex. Add 2769 (MMDCCLXIX) and 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) Very similar devices to the abacus were created in other countries, for example the “suanpan” in China, the “soroban” in Japan, and the “schoty” in Russia, which allowed the arithmetic calculations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to be quickly performed. The main disadvantage of the abacus is that a calculation cannot be checked unless a record is also kept on paper, and given the cost of paper in the past this was not practical. However doing calculations on the abacus is still a useful way of understanding the place value of digits. John Napier John Napier (1550 1614) was born and raised in Scotland at a time of religious strife between Catholics and Protestants. He entered St. Andrews University at the age of 13 (not uncommon in those days) and inherited the title Baron of Merchiston, living in a castle near Edinburgh (which today has been converted to an expensive private school) for most of his life. During his lifetime Napier was more renowned for his inflammatory religious doctrine (declaring the
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This note was uploaded on 09/22/2011 for the course MAC 2311 taught by Professor Evinson during the Spring '08 term at University of Central Florida.

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lecture10 - CountingDevices .Withtheuse ofmoredurablemat

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