Decimal System - Research Article from World of Scientific Discovery

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Decimal System

It is suspected that our decimal system originated with the ancient practice of counting on fingers, first with one hand, later wih both hands. Thus the use of the number ten as our number base. In fact, the word decimal is derived from the Latin word for ten, decem, and the word digit means "finger" or "toe," as well as referring to the numerals 0 to 9. However, among the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations (beginning with the Sumerians), base 60 was the earliest positional numbering system developed. Remnants of the base 60 system are still evident today in our division of degrees, hours, and minutes.

Like the history of many mathematical discoveries, the exact origins of our base ten (decimal) system are somewhat unclear. As noted earlier, the base 60, or sexagesimal system, was commonly used among the Babylonians around 1900-1800 b.c. By 300 b.c., India had adopted and modified the...

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This section contains 401 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Decimal System Encyclopedia Article
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Decimal System from World of Scientific Discovery. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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