What is the origin of numbers?


The numbers that are used worldwide nowadays are basically Arabic numbers. They were actually developed by Arabic Muslim scientists who revised the Indian version of numbers that contains only nine numbers. That took place during the 8th century (771 A.D) when an Indian Gastronomist came to the Almansour royal palace with a book – famous at that time – about astronomy and mathematics called “Sod hanta” written by Brahma Jobta around 626 A.D. Almansour ordered to translate the book into Arabic and explore more sciences.

There were different forms in the Indian version of numbers, Arabs kept some of these forms and changed others to create their own vision of numbers which was used in the Middle East and mainly in Baghdad. Thanks to Al Khawarizmi (Algoritmi), Arabic numbers took their final form. At the beginning, they were not widely spread but they became known in the Maghreb and Andalusia. Europe then adopted these numbers because of their practicality in comparison with Roman numbers. Now they are used worldwide.

1 -Indian numbers:



2-Arabic numbers:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

In designing the Arab numbers, Al Khawarizmi based his choice of a particular form on the number of angles that each number should contain. For instance, the number one contains only one angle, number two has two angles, and number three includes three angles, ects…

This picture clarifies the original forms of the Arab numbers, in each angle contains a dot:





These numbers were later modified until they reached the present forms in which we use them now. But the genius invention that Muslim scientists brought to us is the zero (as it contains no angles).

The first usage of the zero dates back to 873 A.D, but the first Indian zero was registered around 876 A.D.
The numbers used worldwide nowadays are all Arabic numbers not only because of their beautiful forms, but also because of their practicality . Indeed, unlike Indian numbers, Arabic numbers make a clear distinction between the zero and the dot so that no confusion would be made while reading numbers.

[اللغة العربية]

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