Magic numbers

The Conversation, an online forum from the Australian academic research community and aimed at the interested public, has featured an essay written by the present bloggers. Entitled “Magic numbers: the beauty of decimal notation,” it is available here: Conversation article.

This piece briefly mentions the history of positional decimal arithmetic, from its original discovery by unknown Indian mathematicians approximately 2000 years ago, to its modern incarnation (at least in binary) in computers. The article then speculates how history may have changed if either arithmetic had been discovered earlier, or it had been communicated to Greek mathematicians such as Archimedes.

It is based on an earlier blog by the present authors, available here: Math Drudge blog. This in turn has been cited by NPR in a discussion of the current  economy.

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