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Who Invented Multiplication?


Date: 7 Jun 1995 14:13:26 -0400
From: cad05
Subject: question math

Dear Math people, 

Who made up multiplication? Our names are Paula, Hakeem, and 
Gina.  Our address is cad05@harker.harker.pvt.k12.ca.us.  

                                         Sincerely,
                                         Paula, Hakeem, Gina


Date: 8 Jun 1995 10:20:16 -0400
From: Dr. Ken
Subject: Re: question math

Hello there!

Well, multiplication seems to be one of those things that was invented so
darn long ago that we don't know exactly who made it up.  In fact, to a
certain degree even nonhuman animals can do multiplication; if there are six
piles of coconuts and each pile has seven coconuts, a monkey would be 
pretty surprised if there were a thousand coconuts total.  They expect 
about 42.  

Early humans probably knew how to multiply long before they decided 
to make it a formal system and call it something like our "multiplication" 
word. They may have seen how things line up in rows and columns like 
this:

* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * *

and they decided to think about what was happening, just like you guys
learned to see patterns in numbers when you learned to multiply.  But the
truth is that we don't really know who invented multiplication.

Thanks for the question!

-K
    
Associated Topics:
Elementary Math History/Biography

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