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topic 53381

Who invented numbers?

October 17, 2009

I've always wondered this, and I find it quite interesting. Maths is my favourite subject to think and speak about. So I'm just popping this question on here because as I said, I find this topic interesting!

Simon R.
Student - Scotland

October 19, 2009

Hi, Simon. There is a lot of information in history books about early number systems and counting systems, but numbers preceded written language, so nobody will be able to answer who invented them. But there are many interesting things about the history of numbers that you could investigate, such as who invented the concept of zero? Who invented negative numbers? Who invented irrational numbers? Who invented imaginary numbers? Who invented base-10 arithmetic? One of these might be a good science project. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 20, 2009


Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
   supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina

October 21, 2009


This sounds very much like a homework question, not a query based on curiosity (one of my boys had a very similar question last year for their homework).

Your best bet is to go to the library and research the origin of numbers. As Ted said there is a lot of conjecture about the origin of numbers, but the origin of the number 0, the decimal system (the UK has only relatively recently adopted this system), irrational numbers etc are very well researched. Quite fascinating but you have to do the research.

Brian Terry
Aerospace - Yeovil, Somerset, UK

October 21, 2009

Sheldon: Crows are known to be able to count to at least three. I think they invented numbers; we just aren't fluent in their language.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
      South Carolina

October 23, 2009

Like written language, early written counting systems were invented many different times in different places. Probably the earliest form is the most basic form still in use today, keeping a tally with a straight line for every object counted. Doing it as groupings of five was no doubt a clever advancement of the system somewhere along there. You can still see traces of this, look at 1, 2, and 3 as written in Roman Numerals and Japanese kanji. Even the Arabic numeral 1, serifs aside, is just a vertical line.

Wikipedia and/or Google can probably tell you more if you just want to know out of curiosity. If you need proper sources for a report, visit the library as the others suggested.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
stellar solutions banner

October 28, 2009

Crows it is. What was I thinking?

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
   supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina

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