Our number system has been inappropriately called the
“Arabic number system”. The correct name is the “Hindu number system”,
since it actually originated in India.

Positional number systems
In a positional number system like we use today, a
single symbol (like “5”) can be used to mean five, or fifty, or five
thousand, depending on its position. It is easy for us to take this number
system for granted, unless we compare it to the Roman system of numbers.
Our positional system of arithmetic was completely
unheard of in thirteenth century Europe. The
Roman system, where V meant “five” and L meant “fifty”, was use for
notation by European merchants. However, since even adding two numbers
together was very cumbersome with Roman numerals, they used the abacus when
they wanted to do arithmetic.
Because of this positional notation, there are
relatively simple longhand methods for addition, subtraction,
multiplication, and division.

Hindu beginnings
The Babylonians had probably the first positional number
system around the 19th century BC. Their number system was, however, a sexagesimal system, being based on 60. Remnants of the
Babylonian system remain today in the fact that there are 60 seconds in a
minute and 60 minutes in an hour.
The Mayan culture independently developed a positional
number system that was based on 20 and 18. This system was in use perhaps
as early as 400 BC.
A positional number system was also developed in India as
early as 594 AD, where it was used to record a date. Numerous other dates
were written in positional notation in the 700’s and 800’s. Historians have
disputed all these documents. It is possible that they were forgeries
actually written at a later date. The first appearance of Indian positional
notation that historians have accepted was in 876 AD.

Arabic
Of the three positional number systems, the Indian
system has survived largely because
of a good PR man. The Arab alKhwarizmi wrote a book entitled “Concerning
the Hindu Art of Reckoning” sometime in the early 800’s. This book largely
was derived upon the earlier work of Brahmagupta.
The account of
the Hindu numbers and their use in calculation by alKhwarizmi was so clear
that he was mistakenly credited for developing the system. As a result, we
even see historians of mathematics refer to our number system as the Arabic
system. [Rouse Ball, p. 166 and p. 167]
AlKwarizmi was a Persian from
around 800 AD. He belonged to a school in Baghdad that was responsible for the
preservation of much of the earlier science. Greece was the center of
science up until about 300 AD. India took over, and then the
torch was passed to the Persians, thanks to a very forward looking ruler
whose name escapes me right now. (This is all from memory, sorry.) We have
this king to thank for the knowledge of Euclid's Elements, for the works of
Ptolemy and Aristotle, and for the math contributions of the Hindus.
This Persian school was also the birthplace of Algebra.
AlKwarizmi wrote the first book on algebra. A
word or two from the title became our word "algebra".

Europe
Fibonacci wrote the book Liber
Abaci in 1202, in which he introduced what he called the Arab system of
numbers into Italy.
Adelard of Bath
and John of Seville also introduced the
Hindu system to Europe [Boyer, p. 252]
Enter Leonardo di Pisa, also
known as Fibonacci. Today, he is known for inventing the Fibonacci series
which has to do with counting generations of rabbits. He had a much more
significant contribution to European math and commerce, though. He was
studying Arabic texts, and came upon a book by AlKwarizmi
entitled "On the calculation with Hindu numerals".
Getting back to the story, Leonardo was quite taken with
the idea of doing calculating with this notation. He understood that, with
the Hindu notation, businessmen would no longer need an abacus to multiply
two numbers together. They could do long multiplication like we do today.
He translated this book by Alkwarizmi into Latin
to make it available to the businessmen of the day.
Leonardo was careful to credit the book to AlKwarizmi. He even included the name of the original
author in his Latin title: Algoritmi de numero Indorum. Unfortunately
for the history of math, the populace did not understand that "Algorithmi" referred to a person. It was assumed
that this word was the name for the method of calculation that was
introduced to Europe in this book. As an
aside, this misconception is the origin of the word algorithm.
Somewhere along the line, Europe also forgot that the
original number system came from India,
and not Persia.
Today, we incorrectly refer to our numbers as Arabic. It is somewhat more
correct to refer to our number system as HinduArabic, as they are
sometimes called. The accurate description, though, is "Hindu".

The effect of the Hindu number system on European
mathematics cannot be over. In the words of Laplace:
The ingenious method of expressing every possible number
using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an
absolute value) emerged in India.
The idea seems so simple nowadays that its significance and profound
importance is no longer appreciated. Its simplicity lies in the way it
facilitated calculation and placed arithmetic foremost amongst useful
inventions. The importance of this invention is more readily appreciated
when one considers that it was beyond the two greatest men of Antiquity,
Archimedes and Apollonius.

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Our Arabic number system?
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The system was not jointly developed by Hindus (inhabitants of India) and Arabs. With HinduArabic each place is populated by only one character and that represents that places value but in Egyptian each character is repeated for the desired value of each place.Therefore, yes it is arabic
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