As easy as 1,2,3…

The Renaissance Mathematicus

In every day life we all do our calculations, whether for the taxman, our purchases, paying the household bills or in some academic discipline, using the place value decimal number system. It consists of just ten symbols (numerals) – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 – with which we can express any number, of any size that we may require. The value of the symbol changes according to its position – place – within the number that we write. This is an incredibly powerful and efficient method of writing numbers and the algorithms that it uses also make it a very efficient system for conducting calculations. The numerals are usually referred to as Arabic numerals or more correctly as Hindu-Arabic numerals because we Europeans inherited them and the entire system of how to use them from the Islamic Empire in the High Middle Ages, which in turn had inherited them from India in the Early…

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