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Unformatted text preview: By 100 AD, the Chinese were handling fractions much as we do today. The use of decimal fractions really got entrenched in the West around 1600. (This late date would help explain the old British monetary system, etc.) Irrationals That 2 and other integers werent the square of any positive rational number was discovered by the Greeks around 400 BC. Arguably precipitated by their lousy number system. (Compare to epicycles.) Evidence seems to indicate that our standard algebraic proof (known to Aristotle) wasnt used. Possibly a geometric proof based on a diagram like: and a calculation like p 2 = 2 q 2 p/q = ( 2 q p)/(p q) . This indicated that there were irrational lengths, but it didnt explain what all lengths do look like....
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- Fall '10