The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

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  

                                         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 

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

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!

Associated Topics:
Elementary Math History/Biography

Search the Dr. Math Library:

Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.