From One to Zero: A Universal History of Numbers by Georges Ifrah

By Georges Ifrah

The common heritage of Numbers is the main accomplished ebook i've got stumble upon at the topic via fairly a way, and i've most likely learn over a hundred. the fashion of writing makes the ebook effortless to learn, and it assumes virtually no previous wisdom. nevertheless the ebook isn't precisely gentle mattress time analyzing, there are approximately 650 huge pages of relatively small writing. it's going to take a *very* devoted or reader to take on the booklet from hide to hide. for my part you should learn the advent and primary one or chapters, after which to dip into the bits of the ebook you're rather drawn to.

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1-10. Counting a "cloud" of dots. From the foregoing it is clear that people cannot count the objects in a collection (using "count" as we have defined it) unless they are able to do all three of the following: 1. Assign a rank to each object. 2. Associate each object with the memory of all those considered before it. 3. Convert succession into simultaneity. The number concept, which might seem elementary at first sight, is now revealed as being much more complicated. An anecdote told by a man named Bourdin, and reported by R.

Ten fingers for counting In the past, fingers were often used as a material support for the number concept, and sometimes they still serve that purpose. It is important that the hand, or both hands together, can be regarded not only as a total but also as a natural succession of collections of fingers (one finger, two fingers, . . five fingers, . . ten fingers). With the hand, the ideas of car-dinal and ordinal number become intuitive. It provides the simplest and most natural succession of model collections that human beings have, so to speak, at hand.

The notion of number is limited to what can be perceived at a glance. To people at this stage, number is a concrete reality insep-arable from the nature of the objects directly related to it. ) To solve the problem of dealing with quantities greater than four, they develop concrete procedures, based on the principle of one-to-one correspondence, that they can use up to a certain point. Among them are techniques involving the fingers and other parts of the body, which pro-vide simple and readily available model collections.

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