• Home
  • Education
  • Primary Education Mathematics - The development of the decimal number system

Primary Education Mathematics — The development of the decimal number system Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

7 The development of the decimal number system

The development of the decimal number system

The number system has been used over the past years, and its basis has been the decimal system, which is based on digits from zero through nine (Wiegand., 1996). The name decimal is a Latin name know as decem, which means“ten,” while the symbol which is used to represent these digits came from Europe around 13th Century from the Arabs who, in turn acquired them from the Indians. The number system which is based on ten digits, it is said to be radix-10 or base-10, the term radix is a Latin word which mean the “root.” Decimal system has been adopted all over the world due to the fact that human beings have ten fingers which include the thumbs. If Mother Nature gave human beings six fingers, human beings would probably be using base-12 numbering system (Harris, 1995).

The decimal system that had bases other than ten have been used in the history, for example, the ancient Egyptians used base-12 (duo-decimal) systems in which they used finger-joints instead of fingers. Each person fingers have three joints, so if a person uses his/her thumb to point to the joints of other fingers on the same person hand, he/she will be able to count 1-2-3 on the first finger, 4-5-6 on the second finger, and so on up to 12 on the person little finger. If both hands are used, twenty-four values will be represented. This has the connections why ancient Egyptians divided their day into 24 periods. Strangely enough, ancient Egyptian hour was equal to one of our hours. This was for the reasons that ancient Egyptians liked things to be tidy and nice, so their days and nights had twelve hours each. And when the amount of daylight varied throughout the year, they were able to adjust their lengths of their hours which was affected by seasons (Wiegand., 1996).

In ancient Babylonians who were famous for their calculations and astrological observations. Babylonians used a base-60 (sexagesimal) numbering system. This numbering system appeared around 1900 to 1800 BC, and has been credited to be the first known place-value number system, in which the value of a particular digit depends on both the digit itself and its position within the number (Harris, 1995). Although 60 is a large number value to have as a base, it has advantages. Sixty can be divided by one, two, three, four, five and six, twelve, fifteen… and it can also be divided by ten and fifteen, and so on. In addition, ancient Babylonians used six and ten as sub-bases. Through the ancient Babylonian, their base of 60 is being used today in 60 minutes and seconds of angular measurements in clocks, in the 360 degrees of a circle, and in the 180 degrees of a triangle (Harris, 1995).The Babylonians also introduced the place-value concept, in which the same digit will have different value and this will depend on the place in the number sequence. Another development of decimal number system was found at Maya, they independently arrive at a place-value system. In their case they had base-20 system; in addition, they had a symbol for zero. Similar to that of Babylonians, their digits were not separated from their base figure. Maya’s used a dot for one and a line for five. For example, 14 were written as 4 dots that had two lines below them (Harris, 1995).

People’s lives will be difficult if they had no knowledge of mathematics, on a basic level mathematics do play a big role in people’s daily lives. From the rich to the poor, all have in some point used mathematics to help them in their lives. Consider a person, who has to run his/her home on a given budget. He/she will divide money according to her expenses and needs and then spend the money according to her needs. In more advance careers, mathematics is essential in professions such as engineering. Working on geometry and algebra will help a person with reasoning skills and later in life with technical skills in technical problem solving. Moreover, it will be extremely difficult for a person to live in his/her day to day life. Even if a person was a pastoralist in the desert he would need to count his/her livestock’s.

Mathematics has been used as a problem solver in every field. In fact mathematics is involved directly or indirectly wherever we go and everything that a person may need. If an individual is quick at mental arithmetic, mathematics will help him/her save hundreds of dollars or pounds in the shop. And if an individual have knowledge of statistics it help him see the truth in newspaper adverts or television. In addition, a person can be able to understand different kind of information about cricket or football team. Even simple mathematics equations are just around human beings, like ripples on the surface of water, spherical shapes of soap bubbles. Mathematics will help people in engineering profession in making geometrical shapes of structures in buildings.

Mathematical modeling is a process that uses various mathematical functions such as equations, graphs, diagrams, or scatter-plots to represent real world situations. Mathematical models will provide an abstraction that will reduce a human problem to its essential characteristics. Foremost, mathematical models will represent a situation without extraneous information. The equation a= b + 6, for example, will remove all of the unwanted words from the original statement. Fredrick is 5 years older than Linda.” In addition, different people can be able to use mathematical models to solve various scenarios cost-effectively. A car manufacturing company would create a mathematical model and conduct simulations on that model, rather than incur the costs of manufacturing cars for testing purposes.

Regression model is used in business to predict one variable from other variables, these models are used by business as a tool to predict about the future events using information about past or presents events in the business (Motulsky 2002). Most business use regression models because they are less expensive in term of time. A suitable model that can be used in business is multiple regression-was first used by Pearson (1908), it is best used to analyze relationship between many independent variables or between a dependent and independent variable or criterion variable. In order for a person to construct a regression mode, both the sample of objects which will be used to make prediction and information which will be predicted must be obtained, then, the relationship between dependent and independent variable is model with a linear transformation (Motulsky 2002).

For any businessman making a decision is crucial because there is always a lot of uncertainty about the future of that decision (Philipps 2006). In making decision, you must be prepared to forgo alternative to pursue a certain action, in other word; what are the benefits of choosing an alternative action (Philipps 2006). For example, a business man wants to invest in two different investments, such as stocks and government bond. If he/she chooses to invest in bond he will get a paltry return of 2 per cent over the year on initial investment, but if the same business man will invest in government bond which will yield him/her 6 per cent, not forgetting it is a risk-free. The opportunity costs for that businessman will be 4 per cent, the businessman will invest in government bond because it is risk free and has higher returns than investing in shares.

A business metric is a standard measure which is used to assess performance in a particular area in a business (Trimble 2010). The main purpose of a business metric is to focus mainly on customers and the performance that are in the business. For example, if the business venture wants to measure their customer satisfaction, a good metric for the business would be direct feedback from their customers on how they feel about the business product or service that are being offered by the business ventures. A poor metric for business would be the number of returned products or customers are complaining about services which are being offered by the business. Another example is call center that are found in most businesses. Most customers will return to buy goods once they are satisfied with customer services(Trimble 2010).


(4th edition). London: Wesley History of Libraries in the Western WorldHarris. M. (1995).


. New York: Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil DeweyWiegand. W. (1996).

Cambridge Press

Motulsky, H. (2002).Multicollinearity in multiple regression.
GraphPad.Retrived from


Philipps, R. (2006, September 15). Effective Decision Making For Small Business Leaders.

SA Business Hub. Retrieved from http://www.sabusinesshub.com/section/content.php?SectionId=8&SubsectionId=12&ContentId=1408

Resnick, L. B. (1995). ‘Learning in school and out’, Educational Researcher, 16, 13-20..

Romberg, T. (1994). Classroom instruction that fosters mathematical thinking and problem

solving: connections between theory and practice. In A. Schoenfeld (Ed.). Mathematical

Thinking and Problem Solving. (pp. 287-304).

Schoenfeld, A. (1998). Reflections on doing and teaching mathematics. In A. Schoenfeld (Ed.).

Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving. (pp. 53-69).