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Arabic numerals are the ten : 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The term often implies a written using these digits (in particular when contrasted with ). However, the term can also refer to the digits themselves, such as in the statement " numbers are written using Arabic numerals."

The numerals were developed in in . It was in the city of that the scholar first encountered the numerals; his work was crucial in making them known throughout Europe. European trade, books, and helped popularize the adoption of Arabic numerals around the world. The numerals have found worldwide use significantly beyond the contemporary spread of the Latin alphabet, intruding into the writing systems in regions where other numerals had been in use, such as and Japanese writing.

They are also called Western Arabic numerals, Ghubār numerals, or digits. Official Unicode Consortium code chart The Oxford English Dictionary uses lowercase Arabic numerals for them, and capitalized Arabic Numerals to refer to the Eastern digits."Arabic", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition


History

Origin of the Arabic numeral symbols
The reason the digits are more commonly known as "Arabic numerals" in Europe and the Americas is that they were introduced to Europe in the tenth century by Arabic speakers of Spain and North Africa, who were then using the digits from Libya to Morocco. In the eastern part of Arabic Peninsula, Arabs were using the Eastern Arabic numerals or "Mashriki" numerals: ٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩Shown right-to-left, zero is on the right, nine on the left.

Al-Nasawi wrote in the early eleventh century that mathematicians had not agreed on the form of the numerals, but most of them had agreed to train themselves with the forms now known as Eastern Arabic numerals.: "Les personnes qui se sont occupées de la science du calcul n'ont pas été d'accord sur une partie des formes de ces neuf signes; mais la plupart d'entre elles sont convenues de les former comme il suit." The oldest specimens of the written numerals available are from Egypt and date to 873–874 CE. They show three forms of the numeral "2" and two forms of the numeral "3", and these variations indicate the divergence between what later became known as the Eastern Arabic numerals and the Western Arabic numerals. The Western Arabic numerals came to be used in the and from the tenth century onward.: "While specimens of Western Arabic numerals from the early period—the tenth to thirteenth centuries—are still not available, we know at least that Hindu reckoning (called ḥisāb al-ghubār) was known in the West from the tenth century onward..."

Calculations were originally performed using a dust board ( takht, Latin: tabula), which involved writing symbols with a stylus and erasing them. The use of the dust board appears to have introduced a divergence in terminology as well: whereas the Hindu reckoning was called ḥisāb al-hindī in the east, it was called ḥisāb al-ghubār in the west (literally, "calculation with dust"). The numerals themselves were referred to in the west as ashkāl al‐ghubār ("dust figures") or qalam al-ghubår ("dust letters"). later invented a system of calculations with ink and paper "without board and erasing" ( bi-ghayr takht wa-lā maḥw bal bi-dawāt wa-qirṭās).

A popular myth claims that the symbols were designed to indicate their numeric value through the number of angles they contained, but no evidence exists of this, and the myth is difficult to reconcile with any digits past 4.

(1998). 9781860463242, Harvill Press.


Adoption in Europe
The first mentions of the numerals in the West are found in the of 976.

From the 980s, Gerbert of (later, Pope Sylvester II) used his position to spread knowledge of the numerals in Europe. Gerbert studied in in his youth. He was known to have requested mathematical treatises concerning the from Lupitus of Barcelona after he had returned to France.

Leonardo Fibonacci (also known as Leonardo of Pisa), a mathematician born in the Republic of Pisa who had studied in Béjaïa (Bougie), , promoted the Indian numeral system in Europe with his 1202 book :

When my father, who had been appointed by his country as public notary in the customs at Bugia acting for the merchants going there, was in charge, he summoned me to him while I was still a child, and having an eye to usefulness and future convenience, desired me to stay there and receive instruction in the school of accounting. There, when I had been introduced to the art of the Indians' nine symbols through remarkable teaching, knowledge of the art very soon pleased me above all else and I came to understand it.

The European acceptance of the numerals was accelerated by the invention of the , and they became widely known during the 15th century. Early evidence of their use in Britain includes: an equal hour horary quadrant from 1396, in England, a 1445 inscription on the tower of Heathfield Church, ; a 1448 inscription on a wooden lych-gate of Bray Church, ; and a 1487 inscription on the belfry door at church, ; and in a 1470 inscription on the tomb of the first Earl of Huntly in Elgin Cathedral. (See G.F. Hill, The Development of Arabic Numerals in Europe for more examples.) In central Europe, the King of Hungary Ladislaus the Posthumous, started the use of Arabic numerals, which appear for the first time in a royal document of 1456.Erdélyi: Magyar művelődéstörténet 1-2. kötet. Kolozsvár, 1913, 1918 By the mid-16th century, they were in common use in most of Europe. Mathforum.org remained in use mostly for the notation of years, and for numbers on clockfaces.

The evolution of the numerals in early Europe is shown here in a table created by the French scholar Jean-Étienne Montucla in his Histoire de la Mathematique, which was published in 1757:


Adoption in Russia
Cyrillic numerals were a numbering system derived from the Cyrillic alphabet, used by and . The system was used in Russia as late as the early 18th century when Peter the Great replaced it with Arabic numerals.


Adoption in China
Positional notation was introduced to China during the (1271–1368) by the Muslim . In the early 17th century, European-style Arabic numerals were introduced by Spanish and Portuguese .
(1997). 9780792340669, Springer. .
(2021). 9780700716913, Psychology Press. .
(2021). 9780486414454, Courier Dover Publications. .


Encoding
The ten Arabic numerals are encoded in virtually every character set designed for electric, radio, and digital communication, such as .

They are encoded in at positions 0x30 to 0x39. Masking to the lower 4 binary bits (or taking the last digit) gives the value of the digit, a great help in converting text to numbers on early computers. These positions were inherited in . used different values, but also had the lower 4 bits equal to the digit value.

0011 00000604830U+0030 DIGIT ZEROF0
0011 00010614931U+0031 DIGIT ONEF1
0011 00100625032U+0032 DIGIT TWOF2
0011 00110635133U+0033 DIGIT THREEF3
0011 01000645234U+0034 DIGIT FOURF4
0011 01010655335U+0035 DIGIT FIVEF5
0011 01100665436U+0036 DIGIT SIXF6
0011 01110675537U+0037 DIGIT SEVENF7
0011 10000705638U+0038 DIGIT EIGHTF8
0011 10010715739U+0039 DIGIT NINEF9


See also


Notes

Sources

Further reading
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