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Topic: [HM] Two (unrelated) questions
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jun 24, 2000 2:10 PM

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J.G.Fauvel (John Fauvel)

Posts: 25
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] Two (unrelated) questions
Posted: Jun 24, 2000 2:10 PM
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John Conway wrote

> The division symbol is just a little picture of the general fraction
> p
> --- , as you'll find from any of the standard books.
> q

I wonder if it is as simple as this? In drawing attention to the symbol's
appearance as a division sign in Rahn's Algebra (1659), Cajori remarks that
"Many writers before him had used �· as a minus sign" [Cajori, A history of
mathematical notations, 1928, vol 1, p.270].

Cajori goes on to say, interestingly, "There are perhaps no symbols which
are as completely observant of political boundaries as are �· and : as
symbols for division. The former belongs to Great Britain, the British
dominions, and the United States. The latter belongs to Continental Europe
and the Latin-American countries." Is this still the case?

John Fauvel

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