Current Number SystemDate: 6/13/96 at 9:53:11 From: dhautree Subject: Current number system Do you think our number system nowadays is sufficient for its uses? Date: 7/17/96 at 12:43:10 From: Doctor Patrick Subject: Re: Current number system Hi! That's an interesting question. I may have a biased point of view, but I do think our system is sufficient for its uses. I'm not really sure what exactly is needed to say that a number system is doing a good job, but I guess that it would have to be able to let people express the idea of "How many" easily and efficiently so that everyone using the system could understand what the other people meant. It would also have to be able to let us do calculations without too much trouble. Can you think of any other things it would have to be able to do? Our number system does both of the things I thought were important. We can communicate numbers easily and we can do all kinds of math with our numbers. One reason for this might be the relative simplicity of our system--we only use 10 different symbols for counting (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9) and just mix them up to form new numbers. What do you think would happen if we had to use a different symbol for every number we wanted to express? We would need so many different symbols that no one could *ever* learn them all. We only have to learn a few, and to learn how to put them together, which makes our number system easy to learn, understand, and communicate. What other reasons can you think of as for why our system works well (or why it doesn't, if you think it need some improvement)? -Doctor Patrick, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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