Don H

2008-04-18 19:16:10 UTC

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Article in "The Age" (14/4) on Dyscalculia (Education supplement) raises theRaw Message

possible problem of coping with the number 10, its whys and wherefores.

What is the arithmetic "alphabet", ie. those basic concepts on which all

else is based?

Presumably, it is - 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 - assuming zero is a number. But

when we come to "10", it is a combination of existing numbers, and thus a

"word" or at least a "digraph", in an English language analogy.

But what if we had a special symbol for 10, eg. "Q", then what would a

number such as "3024" mean?

The zero in such number denotes an "empty" column in an abacus, or is a

place-holder without which the number would contract to 324, and be

incorrect.

Is such zero column really empty? Or is it a "complete" column for which

some more appropriate marker is needed.

Consider "3Q24" instead, and what is this but -

3QQQ + 2Q + 4, where 3QQQ = 3 x 10 x 10 x 10, and 2Q = 2 x 10.

After all, for the 3 in number 3024 to have reached its thousands status,

it must have accumulated those thousands, and a physical nothing on a

counting frame is not what exists in reality. Put three thousand people in

a stadium, and they all exist, no matter the notation.

Hence 3Q24 is the superimposition of 3QQQ, 2Q, and 4 - a form of

shorthand.