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Topic: How old are decimals?
Replies: 5   Last Post: Jun 18, 1996 11:11 PM

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hawthorn@waikato.ac.nz

Posts: 14
Registered: 12/12/04
Re: How old are decimals?
Posted: Jun 18, 1996 11:11 PM
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Per Erik Manne writes:
> Don Redmond wrote:
>> Ashley Romain wrote:

Re decimals ...

>> > Am I right in believing that decimals have been used for approx 6000
>> > years in Europe?


>> In Europe decimals have only been around 1500-1600s. In the Arab
>> world they showed up around 900AD.
>> Most asny history of mathematics could give you the full details.


> A quick look at Howard Eves' History of Mathematics give the
> following facts:


> In Europe: 10th century Spanish manuscript. (1500 is given as the
> time when decimals had gained complete supremacy over Roman numbers.)


To complete the story, Spain was really part of the Islamic world at
that time. Decimals were transferred to christian Europe from Spain by
Leonardo of Pisa (aka Fibonnacci), and are described in his book
`Liber Abaci' which appeared in 1202. There may have been previous
introductions of the idea into Europe, but Fibonnacci's was the one
that germinated.


Ian H







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