The Hindu-Arabic numeral system (1, 2, 3, .) is one of mankind's greatest achievements and one of its most commonly used inventions. How did it originate? Those who have written about the numeral system have hypothesized that it originated in India; however, there is little evidence to support this claim. This book provides considerable evidence to show that the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, in spite of its commonly accepted name, has its origins in the Chinese rod numeral system. This system was in use in China from antiquity till the 16th and 17th centuries. It was used by officials, astronomers, traders and others to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and other arithmetic operations, and also used by mathematicians to develop arithmetic and algebra. Based on this system, numerous mathematical treatises were written. Sun Zi suanjing (The Mathematical Classic of Sun Zi), written around 400 AD, is the earliest extant work that has a description of the rod numerals and their operations. With this treatise as a central reference, the first part of the book discusses the development of arithmetic and the beginnings of algebra in ancient China and, on the basis of this knowledge, advances the thesis that the Hindu-Arabic numeral system has its origins in the rod numeral system. Part Two gives a complete translation of Sun Zi suanjing. In this new edition, Lay Yong Lam has included an edited version of her plenary lecture entitled "Ancient Chinese Mathematics and Its Influence on World Mathematics", which was delivered at the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Beijing in August 2002 immediately after she had received the prestigious Kenneth O. May Medal. This should serve as a useful and easy-to-comprehend introduction to thebook.
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- Lay Yong Lam, Tian Se Ang