Number Systems

Topics: Numeral system, Number, Decimal Pages: 8 (1435 words) Published: November 2, 2010
|The Mayan Number System | |The Mayan number system dates back to the fourth century and was approximately 1,000 years more advanced than the Europeans of that | |time. This system is unique to our current decimal system, which has a base 10, in that the Mayan's used a vigesimal system, which | |had a base 20. This system is believed to have been used because, since the Mayan's lived in such a warm climate and there was rarely| |a need to wear shoes, 20 was the total number of fingers and toes, thus making the system workable. Therefore two important markers | |in this system are 20, which relates to the fingers and toes, and five, which relates to the number of digits on one hand or foot. | |The Mayan system used a combination of two symbols. A dot (.) was used to represent the units (one through four) and a dash (-) was | |used to represent five. It is thought that the Mayan's may have used an abacus because of the use of their symbols and, therefore, | |there may be a connection between the Japanese and certain American tribes (Ortenzi, 1964). The Mayan's wrote their numbers | |vertically as opposed to horizontally with the lowest denomination on the bottom. Their system was set up so that the first five | |place values were based on the multiples of 20. They were 1 (200), 20 (201), 400 (202), 8,000 (203), and 160,000 (204). In the Arabic| |form we use the place values of 1, 10, 100, 1,000, and 10,000. For example, the number 241,083 would be figured out and written as | |follows: | |Mayan | |Numbers | |Place Value | |Decimal Value | | | |[pic] | |1 times 160,000 | |= 160,000 | | | |[pic] | |10 times 8,000 | |= 80,000 | | | |[pic] | |2 times 400 | |= 800 | |...
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