Abacus - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics

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The Suanpan

In China, the abacus is called a "suanpan." Little is known about its early use, but rules on how to use it appeared in the thirteenth century. The suanpan consists of two decks, an upper and a lower, separated by a divider. The upper deck has two beads in each column, and the lower deck has five beads in each column. Each of the two beads in the ones column in the top deck is worth 5, and each bead in the lower deck is worth 1. The column farthest to the right is the ones column. The next column to the left is the tens column, and so on. The abacus can then be read across just as if you were reading a number. Each column can be thought of in terms of place value and the total of the beads in each column as the digit for...

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This section contains 1,143 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Abacus Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics
Abacus from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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