ARABIC NUMERALS, also called HINDU–ARABIC NUMERALS are the ten
digits : 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, based on the Hindu–Arabic
numeral system , the most common system for the symbolic
representation of numbers in the world today. In this numeral system ,
a sequence of digits such as "975" is read as a single number, using
the position of the digit in the sequence to interpret its value. The
symbol for zero is the key to the effectiveness of the system, which
was developed by ancient mathematicians in the Indian subcontinent
around AD 500.
The system was adopted by
Arabic mathematicians in
Baghdad and passed
on to the Arabs farther west. There is some evidence to suggest that
the numerals in their current form developed from
Arabic letters in
Maghreb , the western region of the
Arab world . The current form
of the numerals developed in North Africa, distinct in form from the
Eastern Arabic numerals . It was in the North African city
Bejaia that the Italian scholar
Fibonacci first encountered the
numerals; his work was crucial in making them known throughout Europe
and then further to the Europeans who spread it worldwide. The use of
Arabic numerals spread around the world through European trade, books
and colonialism .
The term _
Arabic numerals_ is ambiguous. It most commonly refers to
the numerals widely used in Europe and the Americas; to avoid
Unicode calls these _European digits_. _
Arabic numerals_ is
also the conventional name for the entire family of related numerals
Indian numerals . It may also be intended to mean the
numerals used by Arabs, in which case it generally refers to the
Arabic numerals. It would be more appropriate to refer to the
Arabic numeral system_, where the value of a digit in a number
depends on its position.
Although the phrase "
Arabic numeral" is frequently capitalized, it is
sometimes written in lower case: for instance, in its entry in the
Oxford English Dictionary _, which helps to distinguish it from
Arabic numerals" as the East
Arabic numerals specific to the Arabs.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Origins
* 1.1.1 Popular myths
* 1.2 Adoption in Europe
* 1.3 Adoption in Russia
* 1.4 Adoption in China
* 2 Evolution of symbols
* 3 See also
* 4 References
* 5 Sources
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
Main article: History of the
Hindu–Arabic numeral system
Hindu–Arabic numeral system was developed in India by
around AD 700. The development was gradual, spanning several
centuries, but the decisive step was probably provided by Brahmagupta
's formulation of zero as a number in AD 628. The system was
revolutionary by including zero in positional notation , thereby
limiting the number of individual digits to ten. It is considered an
important milestone in the development of mathematics. One may
distinguish between this positional _system_, which is identical
throughout the family, and the precise glyphs used to write the
numerals, which varied regionally.
The glyphs most commonly used in conjunction with the Latin script
since early modern times are 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 . The first
universally accepted inscription containing the use of the 0 glyph in
India is first recorded in the 9th century, in an inscription at
Central India dated to 870. Numerous Indian documents on
copper plates exist, with the same symbol for zero in them, dated back
as far as the 6th century AD, but their dates are uncertain.
Cambodia dating to AD 683 have also been
Brahmi numerals (lower row) in India in the 1st century AD
The numerals used in the
Bakhshali manuscript , dated to sometime
between the 3rd and 7th century AD. Modern-day
keypad with two forms of
Arabic numerals: Western Arabic/European
numerals on the left and
Eastern Arabic numerals on the right
The numeral system came to be known to both the Persian mathematician
Al-Khwarizmi , whose book _On the Calculation with
Hindu Numerals_ was
written about 825 in
Arabic , and the
who wrote four volumes, _On the Use of the Indian Numerals_ (_Ketab fi
Isti'mal al-'Adad al-Hindi_) about 830. Their work was principally
responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in
the Middle East and the West.
In the 10th century, Middle-Eastern mathematicians extended the
decimal numeral system to include fractions , as recorded in a
Syrian mathematician Abu\'l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi in
952–953. The decimal point notation was introduced by
Sind ibn Ali ,
who also wrote the earliest treatise on
A distinctive West
Arabic variant of the symbols begins to emerge
around the 10th century in the
Al-Andalus , called
_ghubar_ ("sand-table" or "dust-table") numerals, which are the direct
ancestor of the modern Western
Arabic numerals used throughout the
world. Ghubar numerals themselves are probably of Roman origin.
Some popular myths have argued that the original forms of these
symbols indicated their numeric value through the number of angles
they contained, but no evidence exists of any such origin.
ADOPTION IN EUROPE
Adoption of the
Hindu numerals through the Arabs by Europe
Woodcut showing the 16th century astronomical clock of Uppsala
Cathedral , with two clockfaces, one with
Arabic and one with Roman
numerals. A German manuscript page teaching use of Arabic
numerals (Talhoffer Thott, 1459). At this time, knowledge of the
numerals was still widely seen as esoteric, and Talhoffer presents
them with the
Hebrew alphabet and astrology . Late 18th-century
French revolutionary "decimal" clockface.
In 825 Al-Khwārizmī wrote a treatise in Arabic, _On the Calculation
Hindu Numerals_, which survives only as the 12th-century Latin
translation, _Algoritmi de numero Indorum_. _Algoritmi_, the
translator's rendition of the author's name, gave rise to the word
_algorithm _ (Latin _algorithmus_, "calculation method").
The first mentions of the numerals in the West are found in the
Codex Vigilanus _ of 976.
From the 980s, Gerbert of
Pope Sylvester II ) used
his position to spread knowledge of the numerals in Europe. Gerbert
Barcelona in his youth. He was known to have requested
mathematical treatises concerning the astrolabe from Lupitus of
Barcelona after he had returned to France.
Leonardo of Pisa ), a mathematician born in the
Republic of Pisa who had studied in
promoted the Indian numeral system in Europe with his 1202 book _Liber
When my father, who had been appointed by his country as public
notary in the customs at Bugia acting for the Pisan merchants going
there, was in charge, he summoned me to him while I was still a child,
and having an eye to usefulness and future convenience, desired me to
stay there and receive instruction in the school of accounting. There,
when I had been introduced to the art of the Indians' nine symbols
through remarkable teaching, knowledge of the art very soon pleased me
above all else and I came to understand it.
The numerals are arranged with their lowest value digit to the right,
with higher value positions added to the left. This arrangement was
adopted identically into the numerals as used in Europe. Languages
written in the Latin alphabet run from left-to-right, unlike languages
written in the
Arabic alphabet. Hence, from the point of view of the
reader, numerals in Western texts are written with the highest power
of the base first whereas numerals in
Arabic texts are written with
the lowest power of the base first.
The reason the digits are more commonly known as "
Arabic numerals" in
Europe and the Americas is that they were introduced to Europe in the
10th century by Arabic-speakers of North Africa, who were then using
the digits from Libya to Morocco. Arabs, on the other hand, call the
Hindu numerals", referring to their origin in India. This is
not to be confused with what the Arabs call the "Hindi numerals",
Eastern Arabic numerals (٠ - ١ - ٢ - ٣
-٤ - ٥ - ٦ - ٧ - ٨ - ٩) used in the Middle
East, or any of the numerals currently used in Indian languages (e.g.
Devanagari : ०.१.२.३.४.५.६.७.८.९).
The European acceptance of the numerals was accelerated by the
invention of the printing press , and they became widely known during
the 15th century. Early evidence of their use in Britain includes: an
equal hour horary quadrant from 1396, in England, a 1445 inscription
on the tower of Heathfield Church,
Sussex ; a 1448 inscription on a
wooden lych-gate of Bray Church,
Berkshire ; and a 1487 inscription on
the belfry door at
Dorset ; and in
1470 inscription on the tomb of the first Earl of Huntly in Elgin
Cathedral. (See G.F. Hill, _The Development of
Arabic Numerals in
Europe_ for more examples.) In central Europe, the King of Hungary
Ladislaus the Posthumous , started the use of
Arabic numerals, which
appear for the first time in a royal document of 1456. By the
mid-16th century, they were in common use in most of Europe. Roman
numerals remained in use mostly for the notation of
Anno Domini years,
and for numbers on clockfaces.
Roman numerals are still used for enumeration of lists (as an
alternative to alphabetical enumeration), for sequential volumes, to
differentiate monarchs or family members with the same first names,
and (in lower case) to number pages in prefatory material in books.
ADOPTION IN RUSSIA
Cyrillic numerals were a numbering system derived from the Cyrillic
alphabet , used by South and East
Slavic peoples . The system was used
in Russia as late as the early 18th century when Peter the Great
replaced it with
ADOPTION IN CHINA
Iron plate with an order 6 magic square in Persian/ Arabic
numbers from China, dating to the
Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368).
Arabic numerals were introduced to China during the Yuan Dynasty
(1271–1368) by the Muslim
Hui people . In the early 17th century,
Arabic numerals were introduced by Spanish and
EVOLUTION OF SYMBOLS
The numeral system employed, known as algorism , is positional
decimal notation. Various symbol sets are used to represent numbers in
Arabic numeral system, which may have evolved from the
Brahmi numerals , or developed independently from it. The symbols used
to represent the system have split into various typographical variants
Middle Ages :
* The widespread Western
Arabic numerals used with the Latin script
, in the table below labelled _European_, descended from the West
Arabic numerals developed in al-Andalus (Andalucía, Spain) and the
Maghreb . Spanish scholars because of the geographic proximity, trade
and constant warfare with the Muslim kingdoms of Southern Spain saw a
potential in the simplicity of
Arabic numbers, and decided to adopt
those symbols, later other Europeans followed and incorporated them
too. (There are two typographic styles for rendering European
numerals, known as lining figures and text figures ).
* The Arabic–Indic or
Eastern Arabic numerals , used with the
Arabic script , developed primarily in what is now
Iraq . A variant of
Eastern Arabic numerals used in the Persian and Urdu languages is
shown as East Arabic-Indic.
Devanagari numerals used with
Devanagari and related variants
are grouped as
Indian numerals .
The evolution of the numerals in early Europe is shown on a table
created by the French scholar
Jean-Étienne Montucla in his _Histoire
de la Mathematique_, which was published in 1757:
Arabic numeral glyphs 0–9 are encoded in
positions 0x30 to 0x39, matching up with the second hexadecimal digit
Counting rods – decimal positional numeral system with zero
* Regional variations in modern handwritten
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"Arabic" numerals and system of place-value notation used in most
parts of the world today
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Arabic Numerals - A. Boucenna - Université
Setif (in French)
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