History of numbers

History of numbers

In early civilisations different types of counting systems were used in business and other fields. It all started with the use of lines, which later developed into alphabets (Rome, Greece), symbols (Babylon), hiero-glyphics (Egypt), pictorials (China) and lines and symbols (India). The Roman numerals (I, V, X, L, C, D and M), although widely used in com- merce and architecture, had two major flaws. Firstly, there was no zero and secondly, for large numbers different types of systems were used.Indian–Arab numerals, the forebearers of the modern numbers, were used in India more than 2500 years ago. Originally there were nine symbols to represent 1–9 and special symbols were used for tens, hundreds and thousands. It appears that the Indians later introduced zero in the form of a dot (to represent nothing), which they either borrowed from other systems or invented themselves. The credit for disseminating to the European countries goes to the Arabs who started to expand their trade about 1500 years ago and had links with several countries. After some resistance, the use of Indian–Arab numerals became widespread during the sixteenth century and the Roman numerals were restricted to special use. The  main  reasons  for  the  universal  adoption  of  the  Indian–Arab numerals were that it was a place value system and also very easy to use.For example, if you were to write, say, 786 and 1998 in Roman numerals just imagine the time taken to do so. 786 in Roman numerals is written as DCCLXXXVI. Similarly 1998 is written as MCMXCVIII.
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