Friday, January 10, 2014

The oldest base-10 "calculator" discovered in China

From an article appearing in Nature:
"Such an elaborate multiplication matrix is absolutely unique in Chinese history,” says Feng. The oldest previously known Chinese times tables, dating to the Qin Dynasty between 221 and 206 bc, were in the form of a series of short sentences such as “six eights beget forty-eight” and capable of only much simpler multiplications. The ancient Babylonians possessed multiplication tables some 4,000 years ago, but theirs were in a base-60, rather than base-10 (decimal), system. The earliest-known European multiplication table dates back to the Renaissance.
And what's really interesting is that the multiplication matrix is made out of bamboo strips! You can read the rest of the fascinating news release here. [ht: io9.com]