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Babylonian Number System

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Lydia Miranda

on 4 January 2013

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Transcript of Babylonian Number System

By Lydia Miranda Babylonian Number System A Little History Base 60 Unlike the Hindu-Arabic system we use today, which is a base 10, the Babylonian number system uses a base 60, also known as sexagesimal system. In other words, they have symbols that represent every number up to 60, and then they have a new symbol to represent every group of 60. Comparing Similar to the Hindu-Arabic number system, which is the system most commonly used today, the Babylonians had a seperate representation for each number through 59, while our number system only goes up through 9. "0" Represented The Babylonians did not have a symbol for the number "0"; however, they did represent a place for 0. They simply left a space where the "0" was suppose to be. The Babylonian civilization took place right after the Summarian and Akkadian civilizations. The Babylonian number system has many similarities to both of the civilizations that took place just before it. The Babylonian number system is very similar to the Egyptian number system in the way that their symbols for 1 are one symbol, 2 is one and one, 3 is one and one and one, and so on, up until 10. Then the number is turned on its side to represent a 10. They simply stack the symbols into a neat pile so they can discern each number easily and correctly. Symbols The Babylonians use triangles as their symbols for numbers. The number "1" is represented by . The number "2" is , and "3" is . The triangles are then stacked neatly for easy reading, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9: , , , , , and . After 9, a group of 10 is represented by a side ways triangle: Symbols Cont. Following the number "10", they go back to using the single digits right after a side triangle. For example, the number "15" would be written as . For every group of a ten, another side traignle is added. For example, the number "20" would be represented by two side triangles, . "30" would be , and then the triangles would start to stack neatly just like the single triangles, like for the number "50": Symbol for 60 As previously stated, the Babylonian number system is a base 60, which means that there is a different symbol used for the number 6o. In the Babylonian system, the symbol for 60 is actually exactly the same as the symbol for "1". 60 = This concept has confused people who have attempted to decipher the Babylonian number system because the space left for a zero looks similar to the space representing a new set of 60. The Babylonians seemed to have no struggle with it though. Addition, Subtraction, Division and Multiplication The Babylonians had a very confusing use of the arithmetic methods. They did not have symbols for addition, multiplication, etc..., instead they increased the gap between numbers. This led to more confusion because of the gaps used for the number"0" A little more History The Babylonians took over Sumeria around 2000 BC, and established Babylon by 1900 BC, which is also around the time their number system was established. The Hindu-Arabic system groups by 10, while the Babylonian system groups by 60. Both use a place value, just different values. Both systems are also multiplicative and additive, the Babylonian is just more confusing than the Hindu-Arabic system. Sources http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Babylonian_numerals.html http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/babylon/index.htm http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Babylonian_mathematics.html http://www.basic-mathematics.com/hindu-arabic-numeration-system.html
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