Do Natural Numbers Start with 0 or 1?
Date: 7/4/96 at 7:27:46 From: Anonymous Subject: Natural Number Start with 0 or 1? Hi Dr. Math! Some of our 6-10 year olds learn that natural numbers are the numbers one uses for counting. As they never start counting with 0, when they enter the next school type they insist on their historic definition of the natural numbers and start with 1. Which arguments would you give these 10-year-olds to convince them to start with 0? Thanks, Dr.Math Uli
Date: 7/5/96 at 10:20:12 From: Doctor Darren Subject: Re: Natural Number Start with 0 or 1? When I first learned about natural numbers, I was told to think of them as anything you could use to fill in the blank of the following sentence: I have ____ bowls of ice cream (or pieces of cake, or piles of dirt, etc.). If you think of it this way, it is easy to see that only integers count, and also that only positive numbers count as natural. Furthermore, it is possible to have no ice cream, so zero must be a natural number. I hope this helps! -Doctor Darren, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Date: 2/13/98 at 2:36:23 Subject: Re: Natural Number Start with 0 or 1? I feel compelled to point out here that there's not solid agreement in the mathematical community about whether zero is a natural number or not. Some say it is, some say it isn't. Here are a few interesting discussions on the topic, from the math-history-list: http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=1379424 http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=1379463 http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=1379474 Several of the participants are well-respected mathematicians and math historians. -Doctor Ken, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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