Number Systems

Topics: Numeral system, Number, Decimal / Pages: 6 (1435 words) / Published: Nov 3rd, 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

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