A brief history of number system

Sraboni Modak
2 min readOct 9, 2020
A brief history of number system

Numbers are the main base of Mathematics. There are only ten symbols from zero to nine to represent any numbers. we had no idea about zero at first, it was introduced by the Indians much later. But the question is where and how did these numbers come from? who invented this numbers? Why are there only ten symbols? This was exactly a long journey of mathematics. Our mathematical notation has evolved a lot since ancient times.

Egyptian

Centuries later Egyptians came. They were very fascinated with numbers. They used symbols to represent the values that are multipliers of ten. For representing one they used the symbol of a staff,

a heel bone for ten and a coil of a rope for hundred. Similarly, a lotus flower for one thousand, pointing finger for ten thousand, a tadpole for one lakh and an astonished man for ten lakhs.

Roman

The Roman numeral system depended on seven symbols that could be arranged to represent any positive number. The seven symbols are: I — one, V — five, X — ten, L — fifty, C — one hundred, D — five hundred, M — one thousand.If we choose the number 2543, so this number is MMDXLIII in Roman number. Note that there is no mention of zero and negative numbers in Roman numerals. Roman numerals are very similar to the Egyptian system, but are based on five instead of ten.This system continuous to be utilized in several places nowadays.

Babylonian

Babylonians, were very famous for their astrological observation and calculations, used sexagesimal (base-60) numbering system. According to historians, approximately 5000 years ago Babylonians developed their system of numeration and it was first positional numbering system which has 60 as its base. Babylonian number system came from earlier Sumerian and Akkadian number systems, which was so sexagesimal. Historians believe that numbers and counting expanded beyond one around 4000 B.C in Sumeria which was located in Southern Mesopotamia in what is now Southern Iraq.

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Sraboni Modak

Interested in Science, Technology and curious about recent activities.