Muslim mathematicians were the first people to write numbers the way we do, and, although we are the heirs of the Greeks in geometry, part of our legacy from the Muslim world is our arithmetic. This is true even if it was Hindu mathematicians in India, probably a few centuries before the rise of Islamic civilization, who began using a numeration system with these two characteristics:
  1. 1.

    The numbers from one to nine are represented by nine digits, all easily made by one or two strokes.

  2. 2.

    The right-most digit of a numeral counts the number of units, and a unit in any place is ten of that to its right. Thus the digit in the second place counts the number of lens, that in the third place the number of hundreds (which is ten tens), and so on. A special mark, the zero, is used to indicate that a given place is empty.



Fractional Part Decimal Point Hindu Numeral Muslim World Islamic World 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Berggren
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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