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What’s in a Number? Who invented Place Value?
Grade 5 students are right now learning about place value in math. But what is place value? And who invented it anyway? And why?
The Arabs? Well, there is some discussion about that. In general it is said that the Hindus (from India) invented the system, and the Arabs introduced it to Western Europe.
It is uncertain when the zero was invented, but a similar (like) symbol was in existence by 500 BC (that’s some 2,500 years ago). The inventor of the zero symbol is unknown. Before its invention, Indian mathematicians had already taken to leaving an empty column on their counting boards and clearly at some point this empty space was filled.
In those days, many Arab travelers came to India to trade. They saw the system and thought “Hey, now that’s a smart thing to do”, and took the idea, complete with the Hindu method of writing numerals, to Baghdad. Baghdad was then part of the Arab empire, and pretty soon all scholars (educated people) were using it.
Why? Because it was much more logic than the systems they were using at the time. Arabic scholars during this time improved the system by introducing decimal fractions.
The system than slowly spread to Europe. Many mathematical books from the Greeks and Hindus were translated in Baghdad and were then sold in Europe.
Those ten marks (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) are also known as the Arabic numerals; for it was the Arabs who introduced them into Europe.
So the Europeans are using the Arabic numerals, and the Arabs are now using the Hindi numerals. How about that?
You want to hear a rap about place value? Go to Mrs. B's blog!!! http://www.classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=152060
Article posted November 4, 2010 at 05:38 AM •
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