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Topic: [HM] The Universal History of Numbers
Replies: 8   Last Post: Jun 7, 2000 7:06 PM

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Alfred Ross

Posts: 56
Registered: 12/3/04
[HM] The Universal History of Numbers
Posted: May 27, 2000 12:17 PM
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The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention
of the Computer
Georges Ifrah, (Translated from the French by David Bellos, E. F.
Harding, Sophie Wood, and Ian Monk)

ISBN: 0-471-37568-3
Price: US$39.95
Published: Nov 1999
Copyright: 1998

A riveting history of counting and calculating from the time of
the cave dwellers to the late twentieth century, The Universal
History of Numbers is the first complete account of the invention
and evolution of numbers the world over. As different cultures
around the globe struggled with problems of harvests, constructing
buildings, educating their citizens, and exploring the wonders
of science, each civilization created its own unique and wonderful
mathematical system.

Dubbed the "Indiana Jones of numbers," Georges Ifrah traveled all
over the world for ten years to uncover the little-known details
of this amazing story. From India to China, and from Egypt to Chile,
Ifrah talked to mathematicians, historians, archaeologists, and
philosophers. He deciphered ancient writing on crumbling walls;
scrutinized stones, tools, cylinders, and cones; and examined carved
bones, elaborately knotted counting strings, and X-rays of the
contents of never-opened ancient clay accounting balls. Conveying
all the excitement and joy of the process of discovery, Ifrah writes
in a delightful storytelling style, recounting a plethora of
intriguing and amusing anecdotes along the way.

From the stories of the various ingenious ways in which different
early cultures used their bodies to count and perfected the use of
the first calculating machine-the hand-to the invention of different
styles of tally sticks, up through the creation of alphabetic numbers,
the Greek and Roman numeric systems, and the birth of modern numerals
in ancient India, we are taken on a marvelous journey through
humankind's grand intellectual epic.

We meet those who only count to four-anything more is "a lot";
discover the first uses of counting fingers and toes; learn of the
amazing ability of abacus users to calculate with brilliant efficiency;
and ponder the intriguing question: How did many cultures manage to
calculate for all those centuries without a zero? Exploring the many
ways civilizations developed and changed their mathematical systems,
Ifrah imparts a unique insight into the nature of human thought-and
into the ways our understanding of numbers and how they shape our
lives has slowly changed and grown over thousands of years.

In this illuminating and entertaining work, you'll learn about:

The earliest calculating machine--the hand
Tally sticks--accounting for beginners
How the Sumerians did their sums
Greek and Roman numerals
The invention of alphabetic numerals
The achievements of the Mayan civilization
India and the birth of modern numbers
Indo-Arabic numerals and how they reached the West
The final stage of numerical notation
Praise for The Universal History of Numbers


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